THE fasting month of Ramadan is a month of blessing for some Muslims to earn extra income by getting involved in the food business.
With some 12 hours of fasting from dawn to late evening, many Muslims develop a love for “special dishes” which they hardly find during other months.
The demand for food for the breaking of fast has driven food traders, both men and women alike, to seize the opportunity to come up with a variety of food and delicacies to attract Muslims.
Desserts are top on the choice of many during the fasting month.
Selected delicacies such as nekbat, akok, buah melaka (onde-onde), bubur caca, badak berendam, tahi itek and puteri mandi, to name a few, are hardly found in other months.
However, they are now found in abundance and are among the main attractions.
Other prominent foods like murtabak, nasi briyani and nasi lemak are not left out.
To meet demand, local councils give temporary licences to food traders to open stalls at selected locations.
The Kuantan Municipal Council, as an example, has opened 17 areas and more than 700 stalls are operating daily from 4pm to 8pm to provide easy access mainly to office workers to shop for their desired food.
According to the council’s public relations officer Haslinda Hassan, it was normal for the council to give temporary licences during the Ramadan month.
However, Haslina said they had to abide by rules and regulation set by the council mainly involving health aspects.
“They have to undergo a medical check-up before they are given the licences to ensure healthy food is served,” Haslinda said.
She said, in Kuantan, the area near Stadium Darul Makmur has been the most popular spot.
“We also opened locations in Balok, Beserah, Taman Tas, Tanjung Lumpur, Tanjung Api, Jaya Gading, Cenderawasih and other housing estates for the convenience of the public.
“Office workers in town find it more strategic to stop near the stadium to buy food before heading home,” Haslinda said.
She, however, said that some preferred to search for their desired food and visited every stall for their satisfaction.
Meanwhile, a check by The Star showed that some traders carried out the business only during Ramadan and worked elsewhere during other months.
Kimi Azrul, 44, from Padang Lalang, said for the past four years he had traded in akok panas.
In other months, he worked as a welder.
“It is easy for me to increase my income during this month by selling akok panas and puding telur.
“Previously, the akok panas was baked at home using charcoal and brought to the stall when it was ready.
“Now, to make it more attractive, I cook it using gas in a specially-designed plate at the stall. It is fresh and hot all the time. My customers just love it,” he said.
Kimi said he could sell 500 pieces of akok panas a day at RM1 for two pieces.
Akok panas is made of flour and eggs, and with extra eggs, the taste is more delicious.
Another operator, Maziatul Mustafa, 38, who sells ayam pusing said she had been in the business for the past eight years.
Maziatul said that only during Ramadan could she sell more than 200 chicken a day at RM16 each.
“Sometimes, even the 200 chicken are not enough.
“I actually requested more but the supplier has problems delivering,” she said, adding that she had another two stalls selling similar food in Balok and Beserah.
Maziatul said, on normal days, she found it difficult to sell even 50 chicken.
“Ramadan can really help us earn additional income,” she said.