Ramadan is a fasting month for Muslims all over the world. During this month, Muslims perform their obligatory abstinence from food and drink from dawn to dusk. But Ramadan is not just about fasting. It is also a time for spiritual reflection and devoting themselves to worship and pray to Allah.
For Malaysians, be it Muslims and non-Muslims, there’s another reason why Ramadan is one of the eagerly awaited months of the Islamic calendar. Perhaps the most special and distinguishing aspect of Ramadan in Malaysia is the Ramadan bazaars that can be found at almost every corner all over the country, offering a huge array of mouth-watering delicacies for you to break your fast with. A visit to these bazaars are a feast for the senses, especially olfactory, as you would be assaulted with all kinds of wonderful smells wafting in the air as you walk from one end to the other.
There is no better time for locals and tourists to titillate their taste buds than by touring the various buka puasa (breaking of fast) spots and trying out the various delicacies each site offers during the month-long Bazaar Ramadan held throughout the country. This year, the Bazaar Ramadan will be held during the fasting month from 17 May to 14 June.
As in previous years, there will be a variety of delicacies and freshly baked treats to tempt the eye from basketfuls of assorted kuih (sweet and savoury snacks) to rows of side dishes to complement a family dinner.
Usually, stalls open as early as 4.00 pm, when sellers start bringing in their wares. There are stalls selling fruits, drinks, foods and it will be a hive of activity with sellers arranging their foods, some grilling fish, with the smoke blowing gently in your eyes.
Try the specialty porridge, bubur lambuk (mix porridge), kueh jala emas (a form of sweet cake) found mainly in Kelantan, pulut panggang (grilled sticky rice with prawns in coconut mixture), ikan terubuk bakar (grilled fish), oh, and so much more!
The thirst-quenching ABC (air batu campur or syrupy ice shavings, with nuts, corn etc.), cincau (jellied drink), tasty soya bean drink, cooling sugar cane, are some of the selections of drinks sold at the bazaar.
Sometimes, especially on a hungry stomach, it is difficult to make choices of what to eat and drink for buka puasa. One would want to buy everything. It is such a great temptation with so much wonderful food!
The prices are affordable, and everyone can visit the bazaar. Just get ready for the thronging crowd, long queues, occasional shouting frenzy from the sellers vying for your attention and a truly local atmosphere. It is worth visiting a different bazaar every day as each bazaar offers a different experience and menu. It is advisable to plan what you want to buy beforehand and bring just enough cash as it is easy to get carried away at a Ramadan bazaar – resulting in you buying more than what you can stomach, which defeats the purpose of the holy month.
Food aside, the bazaar also enhances racial harmony, religious tolerance and boosts Malaysia’s image as a peaceful Islamic country.