Sunday, October 22, 2006

Ramadhan market

Our local market, Pasar BenHil, is not particularly famous - in fact, it didn't even make it onto the Heritage Society's list of notable Jakarta markets, which hurts my hometown pride a bit. But during the fasting month, our sleepy little collection of fruit stands and noodle vendors gets transformed into a jam-packed Ramadhan market that draws people from as far away as Bandung (three hours from here).

All the local restaurants bring out big platters of their specialties, and some local people just put out little tables of home cooking. Some of the foods are ordinary things you see year-round, like roasted fish with chili sauce and beef rendang. Others are apparently special Ramadhan foods. The only one I know of for sure is Opor Ayam, a delicious kind of coconut curried chicken, which is traditional for the end-of-Ramadhan celebration, Idul Fitri.

There's no Opor Ayam in the picture above, but there's chicken in what looks like a sweet or spicy red sauce, and next to it some chopped tempe with dried anchovies and peanuts. To the right are some spinachy greens, which are often cooked up with coconut milk and spices, and the very last bowl in the back is piled with tasty cubed potatoes in chili sauce.

Everybody buys little cookies and cakes and especially the sweet, brightly-colored drinks people use to break the fast.

One function of the Ramadhan market is to serve people stuck in rush-hour traffic on Jalan Sudirman, a major north-south street that's always a parking lot at the end of the workday. That way you can break your fast, and maybe pick up something special for dinner.


michele said...

have you partaken of any of these bright green or yellow concoctions? they look suspiciously like our (american) scary jello/fruit desserts.

kopisusu2 said...

Yep, we've tried a few. They're definitely really sweet, but every now and then they hit the spot. Some of the cubes are jello, but some are fruit, so they do have some redeeming value. The difficult part is getting the drink out of the little plastic bag without ending up covered in it.

The most common Ramadhan drink is kolak, which is a coconut milk based liquid with chunks of banana and sweet potato. Tasty!