Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Buka puasa fare

On the bazaar beat

Sunday, August 22

By Aida Ahmad
sundaymetro@thestar.com.my

ADILA Shakir is on a food hunt. The 34-year-old RedFM DJ, better known as Dilly, is on a mission to suss out the best Ramadan bazaars in the Klang Valley, and today she is at the Pasar Ramadan in Shah Alam. With her is Jason Desmond, aka JD, the other half of the RedFM Breakfast show duo.

Since the start of Ramadan, they have both been visiting the food bazaars specifically set up to cater for the breaking-fast crowd. They will later share their findings with their listeners through the radio show which airs from 6am to 10am.

Both have taken on the job as a seasonal addition on their show and have developed a ranking for the places they visit. They call it the “Lemang Scale”, and the bazaars are ranked on a scale from one to five.

Favourite dish: RedFM DJ Dilly getting some putu piring, her favourite dessert for breaking fast at the Ramadan bazaar in Kampung Sungai Penchala, Selangor.

“For the past week of Ramadan, JD and I have been getting recommendations from our listeners on which are the best bazaars to go to. So we’re going to try to visit as many of them as we can,” says the petite lass from Johor.

The aroma of different types of food permeating the bazaar is enough to make one salivate. “Suffice to say, we are spoilt for choice. But since there are still so many days left in Ramadan, JD and I have agreed to try different types of food slowly so we don’t end up wasting them,” explains Dilly.

So does she have a favourite bazaar? “Not really. The ones I’ve tried in the past have been in Bangsar, Penchala Link and TTDI. Recently, I went to Section 14, PJ, and I was very impressed! This one in Shah Alam is huge and there is so much to choose from.”

Dilly says her favourite food during Ramadan are ikan bakar and ayam percik.

“I usually make a beeline for the Roti John too. I also love murtabak but the lines are always so long. And I also love kuih lopis and putu piring for dessert.”

With all the food around, it must be difficult to remember that it is fasting time and one should actually be cutting down on the amount they eat.

“I make it a point to not go overboard at the bazaars because when you’re hungry you want to buy everything,” Dilly says. But she did confess to buying more food than she should have during the first few days of Ramadan. “The eyes are always bigger than the tummy,” she says, chuckling.

The first bazaar they visited was the one in Bangsar. This one, unfortunately, did not score well on their Lemang scale, managing only 1 out of 5.

“It did not have much variety, to be honest,” explains Dilly. “They have the usual fare like Roti John, nasi campur, ayam percik, murtabak, etc. But the murtabak line was so long that we decided not to go for it.”

Ayam Percik is one of the popular items in all the Ramadan bazaars that Dilly and JD have checked out.

Acting upon the recommendation of their listeners, both DJs visited the bazaar in Section 14, Petaling Jaya, on the second day of Ramadan. “It was as good as our listeners said it was. At the end of the day, I walked away with a packet of laksa utara (RM3), ikan pari bakar (RM5) and soya milk (RM2). I was very happy with everything I bought.”

They have also checked out the Ramadan bazaar in Kampung Sungai Penchala, and it was there that Dilly found her favourite putu piring. For this, the bazaar scored a 3 out of 5 on the Lemang scale.

Born in London, Dilly spent her childhood growing up in Saudi Arabia and, from the age of 13, she lived with her family in Johor Baru.

“They didn’t have big bazaars in Saudi Arabia like we do here during Ramadan,” she recalls. “My mother usually cooked at home for us. Otherwise, we met up with other Malaysians at the Malaysian embassy to break fast together.”

These days, Dilly lives by herself in KL, her family having opted to stay put in Johor Baru. “I find that I miss my family even more during this month than any other,” she muses.

Dilly says it usually takes a few days to get used to fasting during Ramadan but her daily schedule keeps her occupied. “After the first week, I don’t really notice it as much. Work is such a whirlwind anyway that time passes by pretty fast for me and by the time I get home, I need to take a nap.”

I’m done: There’s lots of food to be had but Dilly makes it a point to buy only what she requires.

During Ramadan, she spends most of her leisure time at home, she adds. “I focus on my prayers and recite the Quran to make the most of this holy month.”

Her co-host, JD, is not Muslim but he has been observing Ramadan for the past 13 years. “I actually look forward to it,” he says. “It changes your perspective in the long run.”

Ipoh-born JD admits it was tough for the first few times. “But it’s second nature to me now. The best feeling is when you break fast and realise how fortunate you are to have all these delicacies in front of you,” he says, pointing towards the food laid out in front of him.

Lawyer Zuhaida Zakaria Merican, 29, a fan of the RedFM Breakfast Show, made her way to the bazaar in Shah Alam especially to meet the DJs. “I knew they were coming here after catching their show in the morning. My favourite food here is the Roti John and lamb murtabak,” she says.

Ramadan bazaar in SS18, Subang Jaya.
Bursting with buka puasa fare

Wednesday, August 18

By Tho Xin Yi
thoxinyi@thestar.com.my Photos by Sam Tham

Wafts of charcoal smoke fill the air as visitors arrive at the Ramadan bazaar in SS18, Subang Jaya.

Traders can be seen busy fanning stick of satay and chicken wings on skewers while calling out to passers-by to try their delicacies.

On sale at the stalls are mouthwatering drinks in different hues and kuih-muih in assorted shapes. The offerings include roti bom, roti john, char keuy teow and chicken rice.

A rare find: Fragrant steam billowing from Aminah Isnin’s nasi lemak kukus stall.

What sets this bustling bazaar apart from the rest in town is the number of stalls and the variety of buka puasa fare offered.

The many interesting goodies to be found at this largest bazaar in Subang Jaya include Putu Bambu and jacket potatoes, which sell like hot cakes.

Mohamed Kamisan Buang’s stall is a particularly busy one.

A worker moves swiftly from lifting the cooked Putu Bambu from the steamer, to refilling the steamer with bamboo moulds brimming with a mixture of ground rice flour, grated coconut and palm sugar.

Uncle Jilli’s jacket potatoes, wrapped in foil, are arranged neatly on charcoal pits.

They come with six different toppings — beef, cheesy cheese, corned beef, cheesy chicken, chicky island paradise and chicken sausage — although Mohd Razali Jaafar said he had about 15 varieties that he would rotate during the month.

Plenty of choice: Ramlah Jaafar (left) offers more than 40 dishes a day at her mixed rice stall.

Zainal Abidin makes a living by selling nasi lemak but during Ramadan, he switches to kebab.

“There are many stalls offering nasi lemak here, so I decided to make something unusual,” he said.

Other than chicken, mutton and beef, he also offers chicken liver kebab.

While the ubiquitous nasi lemak is sold at every other stall, nasi lemak kukus is a rare find.

Fragrant steam billows from Aminah Isnin’s wooden rice steamer that can hold up to 15kg of rice.

“It’s the traditional way of cooking rice. Other than the taste, we believe nasi lemak kukus contains less cholesterol than the usual variety,” she said.

Unusual buka puasa fare: Mohd Razali (right) has 15 Jacket Potatoes recipes to be rotated throughout the month.

Situated in the middle of the bazaar, Faisol Ahmad Tajudin’s stall stands out with a long queue of customers.

He manages a book store normally but has been putting his murtabak-making skills to use during Ramadan for the past six years.

“A friend shared his recipe with me and I assume it’s the extra eggs that makes it so popular,” he said, busy scooping a ladleful of filling onto the flattened dough on the hot plate.

Nasi campur is also easily available but Ramlah Jaafar’s offerings attract more customers than the rest.

The secret of her success is in the number of dishes available — which can easily be about 40 trays of Malay delights.

“It only takes me two to three hours to prepare all the dishes,” she said.

Her loyal customers, retirees Hapsah Zakaria and Abu Bakar Ahmad, were seen choosing their favourite buka puasa dishes at the crowded stall.

“We are her regular customers for the variety of dishes she has,” Hapsah said.

The husband and wife, who live in SS14, would walk to the bazaar every other day to buy food for buka puasa.

With Ramadan, bubur lambuk is back (TMI)

By Melissa Zavier

The first day of Ramadan and hundreds have already started queuing at the Masjid Jamek Kampung Baru, not so much for prayers but for its famous bubur lambuk or rice porridge with meat and herbs.

Most Malaysian states have their versions of this Malay rice porridge which is specially prepared for the break of fast or iftar or buka puasa as it is known in Malaysia during Ramadan.

The aromatic spices used in preparing the porridge makes the porridge taste delicious and includes cardamom pods, star anise and cumin seeds are added to the boiling pot of rice. Meat is then added and boiled for hours before it is ready.

The rice porridge is usually distributed after the Asar or evening prayers at the mosque where it is prepared by volunteers. Outside the mosque, stalls line the streets during Ramadan selling their versions of the bubur lambuk.

It is also available at the numerous Pasar Ramadan or bazaars that spring up in the evening across Malaysian towns and cities, catering to those who want a taste of delicacies to break their fast.

Muslims fast from dawn to dusk for the entire month of Ramadan before celebrating the Eid or Hari Raya Aidilfitri as it is known in Malaysia.