It’s that time of year again here in Malaysia: Ramadan! If somehow you are reading this while living under a rock, a place you have called home for all of your life, here is the skinny on Ramadan. It is a one month period where Muslims around the world fast from sun up to sun down. No eating, smoking, drinking any water, nothing like that. This is the time of the year when it is believed that the Prophet Mohammed received the holy Quran from Allah. What it means for a non believing atheist like me is good food!
A lot of Pasar Malams, or night markets, spring up during this month. A lot of it offers traditional foods that you wont find at these markets during the rest of the year. Needless to say, I was interested. First up, Masjid Jamek!
This is the area right around the first masjid, or mosque, in the city. There is a market there year round, but it gets much bigger during Ramadan. Having been there several times before, I can say that this is true for sure.
The first picture is of the many sampins we saw for sale. This is part of the traditional outfit worn by Malay men, along with baju melayu, which you can see in the second picture. Last picture is just one of many little aisles selling all sorts of food and clothing one can find in the market.
In the first two pictures you can get some idea of how crowded it was. But notice this: These are pictures of the eating areas and it is super crowded. But as my beautiful wife, seen briefly in the third picture, point out to me-no one is eating. We saw this last year during Ramadan too a bit. Because places like this are so popular, people come early, order their food, have their food given to them, and then wait until around 7:30 when they can eat again. The pictures were taken at about 6:45, so you have to figure some of those people had been sitting there with food in front of them before we showed up, all while fasting since about 5am that morning. Will power!
It was actually quite beautiful when the call to prayer went out and everyone broke their fast. This super busy market we had been in all of a sudden turned into a quiet peaceful open air cafeteria. People sat on tables, on the ground, where ever they could to eat. The shoppes all closed, at least momentarily, but putting up a sheet in front of their doors, so the people working there could also break their fast. It was a wonderful site to see.
But wait Kevin, you say. This is a “How To Lose Weight…” post, so where are all the food porn pictures? Oh don’t you worry, they are coming soon.
Like right now!
I have some pictures of the food we got from Masjid Lamek, but I accidentally took them as “live” photos on my phone so they look weird.
The following weekend, I trekked solo to a Pasar Malam near my work. It has a version of murtabak that I was very interested in trying. Murtabak is basically a stuff pan fried bread that is just awesome.
The start of the market. It went a lot further down than you can see in this photo.
Roti Boom! Fried bread, really good!
So this is Roti John. I can’t quite figure out what the deal is with this, in terms of its origin and what not. But it is a sloppy wonderful delight. It is onions, cheese, spcies, all fried up together. You can see that mixture on the left and underneath the roll on the right. Then you get a topping with it. I picked beef pepperoni this time. They add some black pepper sauce and what I believe is some kind of mayonaise, and there you go. The name of the bread they use is called Roti john. (Roti being the name for bread in Malay) so I guess that explains the name but still, a very weird albeit delicious food to find in Malaysia.
This is what I came for, the martabak. It is made with maggi, a kind of short noodle that is popular here. I got one chicken and one beef. Frankly, it was good, but I thought it tasted a lot like the normal kind of martabak, which I mistakenly thought was an egg based dish as first. There is no mistaking this for egg. It is pretty tasty!
Now, the big surprise of the market:
It smelled a bit when I was driving home with it in my car, but thankfully the fried smell was more powerful than the durian smell this time. While I love durian, I do not want my car smelling like it forever!
This was just a delight. It was all the flavors of durian that I love, but breaded and fried! What’s not to love??!?!?!?!
That’s all for now folks!