Friday, September 19, 2008

Hari Raya Bazaar at Geylang Serai

Lots of greasy goodies
Once a year during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, Geylang Serai becomes transformed into a huge bazaar for Hari Raya Aidil Fitri. I only managed to check out the tiny side near the market/hawker centre, and already I was exhausted. Here's a quick overview of what's there.

Lots of greasy goodies like roti john, fried noodles, deep-fried snacks and even Chinese style squid-paste yew char kway (dough fritters). These can also be found at the regular roving "pasar malam" (night market).

Beef dendeng - looks like "bakwa"
There's this guy selling stuff that looks like bakwa (BBQ'd dried meat) that's made of beef. Wonder if it tastes like sweet beef jerky.

Middle Estern dates - nutritious candy!
All kinds of Middle Eastern dates, kurma or medjool, for your choosing. These are practically nature's candy, but at least there's some nutrition in them and laxative power to boot. Also available are dried figs and other dried fruit.

Sinar Pagi Nasi Padang
Many of the Geylang Serai market stalls put out extra dishes for those wishing to pack home their meal for buka puasa (breaking fast). Sinar Pagi Nasi Padang has a perpetual long queue.

Hajjah Mona's Ramadan offerings
Here's Hajjah Mona's selections. Mind-boggling. I do have a curious concern though. Given that Muslim food operators cannot taste-test their cooking during the fasting month... I am wondering if the dishes are as finely tuned as they are during other months. 
(this paragraph has been reworded to be upfront instead of just vaguely hinting, as someone mistook my earlier line as a real question and one of ignorance)

Buy some if you're not baking
Everywhere you will see cookies, chips and savoury snacks. Most households will bake their own, but some busy ones may like to supplement with these supplies for variety.

I'm always a little bit alarmed by the amount of food colouring that goes into the drinks
The festive mood is reflected in the colourful drinks. I think my eyeballs will turn pink/yellow/blue if I drink too much of this stuff. I love the katira with the crunchy, chewy biji selasih (basil seeds) that look like frog eggs.

Hari Raya means home decor for the house proud
The bazaar is not all about food. Hari Raya often means the home gets rejuvenated as well, so there's lots of home decor items for the house proud.

Table runners, curtains and such
New curtains, table runners, cushion covers and assorted embroidered pieces.

Brightly coloured outfits
New clothes are a must, as there's lots of visiting to be done. Festive colours are very popular. Hey, the colours match the drinks above!

There's even a Visit Malaysia tourism booth!
Even Malaysia is inviting visits!

Hari Raya Bazaar is from 1-30 Sept
Whoa, is this a Chinese MP wearing Malay attire? That's jolly sporting of him. Now I'd like to see Barack Obama or John McCain do the same!

The bazaar is on until Sept 30. It's still not too late to go take a peek.
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19 comments

  1. Barack can't wear Malay attire lest the average American thinks he's Muslim. Wait a minute, they already do! It's funny being in America, you know some of them are so ignorant they think Barack is Middle-Eastern?

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  2. Oh dear, and I suppose they (the ignorant ones) associate Middle-Eastern folks with terrorists too! Oh well, this is a country that voted Bush in, not once but twice!

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  3. Mc Cain can't do it. He will alienated his voters

    Barack's background is a big question mark. If he wears... good luck to him lol.

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  4. Oh and can your recommend some good food places at $20 per pax and below? Ambiance must be good! thank you~~~

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  5. I'm a sad panda. There are no wonderful fairs like this in the States.

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  6. Best time of the year to be home!

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  7. Well I can't say that you are very informed either. For someone staying in Singapore, I would have thought that you knew what Ramadan entails for Muslims.

    You wrote: "I wonder if Muslim food operators are allowed to taste-test their cooking during the fasting month..."

    Now, given that the bulan puasa means that no food or drink is to pass one's lips between sunrise to sunset, it should be a given that they CAN'T taste-test their cooking in that duration. Its not that I like to nit-pick, and I genuinely enjoy reading your blog. But as a Muslim (albeit not a Singaporean one), I think that these misconceptions/inadequacies of knowledge need to be corrected.

    I've lived in Singapore for a while, and since the Malay community is quite sizeable, I must say it was a bit of a disappointment to read that little bit of commentary.

    No hard feelings though. I just hope you take interest in the beliefs of those around you and start gathering information while you can! There is no better place to do so than Singapore, believe me.

    -M

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  8. I love Kurma. I have not bought any this year!

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  9. Anon: it is precisely because I (and most locals) know Muslims CANNOT eat or drink during Ramadan, that I used my rather flippant question to hint at my underlying concern - that dishes may not taste as good during Ramadan. I can't imagine cooking without tasting. That's like cooking blind!

    If you notice, I used the "..." to trail off the question, in hopes of triggering some thought along that line.

    But my apologies, I should have just been upfront. I did not mean for my question to be taken so literally. I will reword it since it may cause offence or misunderstanding.

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  10. Hi sorry but what time do these stalls start selling?

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  11. Camemberu: Hi there, long time follower of your blog but first time poster. Just want to say first that I love your blog and it just keeps getting better!

    Ok, now, as another Muslim and as a scholar in Islamic studies, I just want to tell you that I personally see no wrong in your question. It was purely asked out of curiosity and I apologize for anon's curt reply which often make us appear as stand-off-ish. I don't see how he/she can be disappointed with your commentary! Sometimes, it is difficult to distinguish between oversensitivity and faith in our religion. Our religion is one of peace and especially in this day and age, we welcome questions about Islam. It is precisely that quote: "misconceptions/inadequacies of knowledge be corrected" that one needs to ask questions right? =)

    Ok now, back to the topic, I am highly familiar with the bulan puasa but there are always exceptions to the rule. Persons exempted from that in most Islam faiths (there are different types of Muslims too eg Sunni, Shi-ah)are:

    1. Women undergoing menstruation
    2. Pregnant or nursing mothers
    3. Children who have not reached puberty (encouraged but not compulsory)
    4. Elder, or sick individuals

    Therefore, it is possible that some of the cooks in your picture may actually be able to taste-test their cooking since alot of them are the elderly grandmas (the ones with the best recipes!).

    Hope this provides are more informative, in-depth answer instead of just creating more necessary hostility and tension between our faith and the rest of the world.

    السلام عليكم
    Assalaamu 'Aleykum

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  12. oops! I meant "unnecessary" hostility and tension.

    لسلام عليكم
    Assalaamu 'Aleykum

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  13. Hello عيد الفطر - thank you so much for chiming in. You have been informative in a most helpful and friendly manner! I really appreciate you taking the time to explain to everyone here.

    Indeed, the elderly grandmas have the best recipes! And you are right that some of the cooks could be exempt from fasting. So I'm glad we have no worries about how stall food might taste during Ramadan!

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  14. T_T: sorry for the delay...I'm still racking my brains to think of places that have good ambiance for $20 per pax or less. I assume you want the food to be decent as well. Quite tricky for this price.

    Probably good to hit some restaurants for their more affordable lunch sets in this case. Will post when I think of more places.

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  15. Hmmm, sorry but I'm not sure what time these stalls start selling. Should be safe closer to noon?

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  16. Where can one buy dates (any kind, Medjool etc) or date paste all year round in Singapore? It seems that they only pop up in the supermarkets around Hari Raya and I need them more often. Somewhere in Geylang Serai perhaps?

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  17. I'm not too sure myself. Maybe the baking supply shops may carry some. And yes, perhaps somewhere in Geylang Serai.

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  18. I like the drinks and the clotes

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  19. Is the food tasty?

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