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Visit A Penang Ramadan Bazaar And Try These Food Favourites!

Heritage and Culture, Malaysian Festivals, Malaysian Food, Penang FoodDanny MahesComment

Hello, friends! We have just over two weeks left in Ramadan, the holy fasting month for Muslims. It’s a month of solemn reflection and prayer, but also lots of food! Yup, it’s a paradox. But a delicious one.

During Ramadan, evening bazaars full of colourful food come to life. Tents are erected in fields and streets, and the intoxicating smell of food perfumes the air - spices, sweets, grilled meats all jostle for the attention of ravenous visitors.

If you’re visiting for the first time it can all be a bit overwhelming. Or maybe you’ve been plucking up the courage, unsure about what to try? Never fear, we’re on the case. Here are some delicious foods to try at your next/first Ramadan Bazaar!

Penang Pasembur, Roti Jala and Other Goodies

Whether its fried in a wok, grilled over a hot plate or slowly turning over a fire, we love that crunchy delicious goodness. At your nearest Bazaar you’ll find an almost endless amount of choices. Here’s a few you should look out for:

1. Pasembur: Like a salad - of fried things. Smooth silken tofu, fritters with shrimp or peanuts, eggs, sausages, croutons. The choices are limitless. Some of the best pasembur are judged not just on the freshness of their ingredients but also the charisma of their vendors. It’s not uncommon to hear them singing, or even doing a dance to get attention. But really what it boils down to is the sauce. Usually a thick red colour and garnished with anything from cucumbers to jicama root, the starchy tomato & potato sauce is the make or break of pasembur.

1. Pasembur: Like a salad - of fried things. Smooth silken tofu, fritters with shrimp or peanuts, eggs, sausages, croutons. The choices are limitless. Some of the best pasembur are judged not just on the freshness of their ingredients but also the charisma of their vendors. It’s not uncommon to hear them singing, or even doing a dance to get attention. But really what it boils down to is the sauce. Usually a thick red colour and garnished with anything from cucumbers to jicama root, the starchy tomato & potato sauce is the make or break of pasembur.

2. Roti Jala or Murtabak: Roti Jala is a flat wheat and coconut milk crepe coloured with turmeric. The secret of a great roti jala is its balance of flavours, textures and feel - it’s gotta be soft, crispy, sweet & sour all at the same time. A murtabak is like a Moroccan pastilla - egg frittata filled with meats, shallots and spices which is then wrapped in a thin, stretchy dough and grilled. A really great murtabak is a phenomenal experience, bursting with aroma and flavour. The gentleman in this picture has developed a cross between the roti jala and murtabak and it was delicious.

2. Roti Jala or Murtabak: Roti Jala is a flat wheat and coconut milk crepe coloured with turmeric. The secret of a great roti jala is its balance of flavours, textures and feel - it’s gotta be soft, crispy, sweet & sour all at the same time. A murtabak is like a Moroccan pastilla - egg frittata filled with meats, shallots and spices which is then wrapped in a thin, stretchy dough and grilled. A really great murtabak is a phenomenal experience, bursting with aroma and flavour. The gentleman in this picture has developed a cross between the roti jala and murtabak and it was delicious.

Ok, so we wanted to get pictures of the boundless choices of barbeque meats at the bazaars we visited. Unfortunately, they were so good we forgot to take pictures. So please enjoy this montage below instead XP

When it comes to those delicious chickens, goats and cows cosying up very close to a fire, we’ve found the best advice is to follow your nose and ears. You want the aroma of spices and generously slathered butter and marinade. You want to hear the slow fizzle and crackling of fats and flesh, and the drip drip of oils and juices. Only thirdly do you use your eyes to judge. Follow this simple three step and you’ll have the choicest barbeque meals at the bazaar.

P.S.A. BREAK!

It’s good etiquette to refrain from eating or drinking while at the bazaar. Most of the vendors and visitors are Muslim and will be observing the fast. Get your food to go, and enjoy it back home/at the hotel.

Thirst Quenching Malaysian Fruit Juices

It’s easy to work up quite a thirst hunting for great food at a bazaar. There are usually plenty of vendors offering refreshing drinks throughout, but remember, it’s good etiquette to wait until leaving the bazaar before drinking. Here’s a couple of our favourite juices at the Ramadan Bazaars!

1. Sugarcane Juice: You’ll come across stacks upon stacks of sugarcane neatly (or sometimes not so neatly) arranged beside tents at the bazaar. Sugarcane juice is really refreshing and vendors often add a little (OK a lot) of sugar syrup to sweeten it and restore energy. Some will take special requests, so you can get it without sugar syrup if you prefer. Our preference is lightly sweetened with lots of ice.

1. Sugarcane Juice: You’ll come across stacks upon stacks of sugarcane neatly (or sometimes not so neatly) arranged beside tents at the bazaar. Sugarcane juice is really refreshing and vendors often add a little (OK a lot) of sugar syrup to sweeten it and restore energy. Some will take special requests, so you can get it without sugar syrup if you prefer. Our preference is lightly sweetened with lots of ice.

2. Red Dragonfruit Juice: Although sometimes available outside of Ramadan, these colourful fruits are most popular at the bazaars. Like the sugarcane, it is usually sweetened with syrup but you can often ask for it unsweetened. We prefer the red dragonfruit over the white, and the texture is very much like a smoothie.

2. Red Dragonfruit Juice: Although sometimes available outside of Ramadan, these colourful fruits are most popular at the bazaars. Like the sugarcane, it is usually sweetened with syrup but you can often ask for it unsweetened. We prefer the red dragonfruit over the white, and the texture is very much like a smoothie.

Malaysian Kuihs and Snacks

There’’s a lot lot more going on at our yearly Ramadan Bazaars. So much, that the entire month is often not enough to try all the delectable delicacies on offer. Case in point, the vast array of kuihs and snacks designed to tease the appetite or satiate cravings throughout the night.

You can read about more Bazaar favourites in our first Ramadan post here. Or if you’d like to learn more about traditional Malaysian kuihs, we have a whole series on banana leaf-wrapped kuihs here.

Penang Kuala Lumpur Ramadan Food Market 7

That’s all for now, folks! Go forth and experience the joyous month of Ramadan. Do remember to observe local etiquette and if you’re not sure about anything feel free to ask us in the comments. Safe travels and good eating!

*Photo Credits Jeremy & Danny