A selection of popular Ramadan delicacies in Malaysia.
Malaysians love to break fast with an assortment of their favourite food.
Fact: Malaysians love their food. Wherever you go, you’ll find 24-hour restaurants, fast food outlets and roadside stalls. Malls with cafés and eateries serve everything from local cuisine to Thai fare to Greek food.
Even during Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk for a whole month, the subject of enjoying a good meal is taken very seriously.
What’s special about the fasting month is that it is as much about tradition as it is about food. During Ramadan, people sit together with family and friends during the breaking of fast, facing a table groaning with various delicacies. Mosques and business premises hold mass buka puasa events to share food and bring people closer together.
There are hundreds of dishes, varied in their texture, shape and taste, making each offering unique. And they are sold at Ramadan bazaars all over Malaysia.
Get the details on some great favourites below:
The bubur lambuk is a bowl of comfort and goodness.
This dish has become a real classic and it is easily the king of the buka puasa dishes. There are many variations depending on personal tastes, regional preferences and family traditions. The basic ingredients are rice, coconut milk, spices and some meat or seafood.
The bubur lambuk of Kampung Baru is the most renowned version due to its decades-old history and simple but tasty ingredients.
The delectable murtabak is convenient to eat.
The murtabak or martabak is a ubiquitous sight at any evening and weekend markets throughout the year. It’s a savoury dish that’s also very filling, making it ideal for the fasting month when there isn’t much appetite for the usual daily grub.
How is it made? A runny mixture of meat, eggs, chopped onions and spices is poured onto paper-thin wheat flour dough and folded into a neat square. It is then fried on a flat griddle with ghee (clarified butter) or oil. Frequent accompaniments are pickled red onions and dhal gravy.
Tasty and crunchy, the popia is also a winner.
Another popular snack which can be just as filling, the popia is a type of spring roll which consists of vegetables and chicken or prawns rolled in a very thin wheat flour crepe square and fried. The crispy concoction is then dipped into a sweet and spicy chilli sauce.
A popular variation is popia basah (literally wet popia) where a softer crepe is used and eaten fresh instead of fried. You can be sure of long snaking queues during Ramadan wherever these nibbles are sold.
The original ayam percik is a Kelantanese invention.
Ayam percik is a dish of chicken grilled with thickened and delicately spiced coconut milk. This dish comes from the state of Kelantan and is a typical side dish for nasi kerabu (a blue rice dish with fresh herbs, vegetables and fish crackers).
Some vendors, especially in cities and towns outside Kelantan, sell ayam percik which is spiced with chilli, giving it a reddish colour. But purists swear by the original version, which is more mellow in flavour.
Last but not least – Drinks!
At the end of the fasting day, nothing beats a cold drink.
Yes, it really does deserve a category of its own. And why not? After fasting from sunrise to sunset, this is the first item that people reach out for in order to slake their thirst.
Just like the eats, the local drinks are a real delight and come in a kaleidoscope of colours. Discover some of the popular ones below:
Sirap bandung — Very popular among children and young people due to its attractive pink colour and amazing burst of sweetness. Its basic ingredients are rose syrup and evaporated milk, though some variations include grass jelly and basil seeds.
Katira — Originating from Johor, katira (local name for almond gum) is one of the ingredients used in the drink, hence the name. Other components include Chinese red dates, barley, candied winter melon, grass jelly, cendol (rice flour vermicelli) and pandan-flavoured sugar syrup.
A glass of Limau asam boi.
Limau asam boi — Comprising blended calamansi lime and sour plum, this thirst quencher is also the best drink to consume with rich greasy food.
Air kelapa — With a little bit of ice and flesh of the young coconut, having this drink after a day of fasting is akin to discovering an oasis in the desert. It is refreshing, and has marvellous cooling properties and a clean taste.
Check out the list of restaurants and cafés on Yellow Pages Malaysia if you want to plan a quick buka puasa at great eateries across the country.