Culinary Adventures: The Ramadan Markets in Malaysia

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Ramadan is an important month in the Islamic Calendar, and it is when faithful Muslims spend one month fasting from sunrise to sunset. It is believed that this ritual will help to develop patience and spirituality, as well as helping them to be grateful for what they’ve got.

The elderly, sick and pregnant woman are exempt from this. I really respect this faith, for their ability to do this. Whilst at university, as Muslim friend would happily sit with me during lunch and watch me eating, knowing she couldn’t eat for another 7 hours or so. Such discipline.

Malaysia, is predominantly an Islamic country. Many people and books advised against travelling here during Ramadan, as places would be closed and there wasn’t much happening. However, I travelled into Malaysia on the first day of Ramadan and left a few days before it ended, and found plenty to do, with most services operating as normal (apart from some banks at certain times of the day).

The one great thing about Ramadan, is the delicious food at the markets. Also known as the Ramadan Bazaar. Everywhere in Malaysia, little markets are set up around 3pm, and people come to buy food items before sunset. These are normally packaged up into bags, and are taken home, to enjoy, after evening prayers with family.

 

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The other great thing, especially if you’re travelling on a budget, is that the food at these markets is so varied and so cheap.

I was first introduced to the Ramadan markets, on my first day in Malaysia by my Couch Suring Host, and loved it.

Here are some of the things I tried in the Ramadan markets:

Mangosteens

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ok, so these are just at the Ramadan Market, but in various markets in South East Asia. The dark, and hard shell reveals a soft white, seed like fruit, which is quite sweet, but I tried these for the first time at a Ramadan market.

Kuih Ketayap
A sweet treat. These are pancakes made with rice and coconut sugar. Very delicious.

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Roti Canai

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An Indian style pancake, fried and folded over with egg, meat or vegetables. I often got Roti Ayam (chicken).

I also ate numerous rice dishes, samosas and Spring rolls. I loved exploring some new and cheap eats.

 

Tips for the Ramadan Bazaar

  • Dress appropriately. Like more places in SE Asia, cover your shoulders and at least have long shorts on.
  • Don’t eat on the street, before sunset. It is considered rude, unless you ask. Take your foods in a plastic bag and eat at your hotel/guesthouse, or elsewhere
  • Bring plenty of small change – most foods cost 1-5RM, and they often have difficulty changing bigger notes.

Have you been to the Ramadan Bazaar’s .. what are your favourite foods?

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