Sunday, April 1, 2012

Pasar Malam (Sunday Night Market)

One unique feature of our Taman Tun Dr. Ismail (TTDI) neighborhood is the weekly Sunday pasar malam (night market).  The vendors start setting up their stalls in the early afternoon, with a double row of tents sprouting up along the four streets around the square below our condo building.  This is the view last Sunday ...

We usually start counterclockwise around the square, starting with the street just outside our complex gates. That section of the market is clothing and dry goods interspersed with fruits and dried fish...  (No, really... you'll see!)
(As usual, clicking on any photo will get you an enlarged version for detailed viewing.)

In this section, can get footwear, plastic goods, and other goodies like this, and you can also get ...

 ... your dried fish (of every size and variety) if your menu calls for them.  Try deep frying the really small ikan bilis (anchovies) with peanuts, shallots, and sliced halapeno chilis...  great to munch on accompanying an ice-cold beverage!

And here's where you get the shallots, onions, and dried red chilis, conveniently located next to the dried fish stall.  Oh, you can get gubers too!

Pat and I usually look for fruits at the pasar malam.  The banana stall has its usual selection of a multitude of varieties.  Some are the tiny pisang mas (golden bananas, not much bigger than your thumb), and others are gigantic plantains, meant for cooking.  I was once told that there are more than 100 native banana varieties here.

Papayas and mangoes are also very popular... here a vendor displays her papayas in the foreground.  The green fruits further down are her mangoes. 

The nice thing about Malaysia is that we can also have our fill of fruits imported from more temperate climates: apples from Washington state and from Korea, oranges from Egypt and from Florida ...

At the end of the first street is my favorite stall, a pickup truck with sugar cane-crushing equipment (to extract sugar cane juice).  The lady's family does the crushing, and she bottles the juice (the green bottles on the left). The white bottles contain coconut juice with young coconut meat in them.  You drink it using straws of very large diameter!

Around the corner from my coconut-sugar cane stall, there are a lot of fish stalls and meat stalls.  Freshly-caught fish from the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca are on sale here...

The market slowly transitions from vendors selling food ingredients to those selling food ready to eat.  Things start getting more interesting now.  You should never go to the night market with an empty stomach!  This lady is selling pastries and bakery items.

Across from her stall is an Indian fellow selling a huge variety of Indian sweetmeats.  To get an idea of what he's selling, check out this Wikipedia article.

The final stall before the food stalls start is the durian stall.  There's really no way to explain durian to you unless you experience the fruit yourself.  So please take a look at:, and
So now we come to the food stalls... some VERY good, some not so good.

This fella's selling giant spring rolls. He offers springrolls with a couple of different kinds of sauces...

This lady's selling fruit rojak, a spicy and tart Malaysian fruit salad also containing some interesting non-fruit ingredients.  For a more comprehensive description, please read

 Malaysian cuisine includes a multitude of Indian-style fried breads and pancakes.  These young fellas are making and selling roti boom (or roti bom).  This is a smaller-sized, dessert variant of the larger roti canai (pronounced "chanai").  Check out

 Your outdoor dining experience has to include satay, skewered beef or chicken, marinated and grilled over charcoal, and eaten with peanut sauce and cubed, compressed rice.  This stall has cooked satay in the far trays, and the nearest trays contain satay skewers waiting to be cooked.

 The field kitchen at the edge of the stall is busy grilling the satay skewers.  This SE Asian dish is done a bit differently in all countries around here.  Check out and

 Another variation on the Indian friend bread theme.  This fella's making murtabak.  There are usually eggs, onions, minced meat (mutton or chicken, usually) all folded into a dough and fried on a grill.  Check out . A very filling dish!

And don't forget to rehydrate yourself frequently in this hot, humid climate --- sugar cane juice, orange juice, iced Milo (a chocolate drink), and a host of local soft drinks.  Note that you can buy the drinks in plastic bags filled with ice!

This booth, run by an ethnic Indian family, sells a variety of Indian sweets --- apom (in the foreground) is a typical Indian pancake very popular here.

More sweets and cakes.  This fella's making putu bambu, a Malaysian/Indonesian sweet that's made of flour, sugar, grated coconut all steamed in a bamboo tube.  He's also selling a variety of western and Malaysian cakes.

These ladies are selling what the fella is cooking: apam balik, a large sweet pancake (turnover) with peanuts and peanut butter inside...

And now for the main dishes ... this fella and his wife are selling three types of fried noodles: the usual mee goreng, the flat kuey teow noodles and a more unusual fried laksa noodle dish, well interspersed with veggies, chicken, and seafood.

This is a fried rice stall.  The nearest giant wok features nasi tomato (tomato sauce fried rice) garnished with veggies and fried chicken.  The others feature fish and vegetarian fried rice dishes.

This stall sells a lot curried dishes --- various veggies, chicken, beef, and mutton, to be eaten poured over packets of rice.  They sell rice cooked in the many styles of the Malaysian state of Kelantan --- the state where I served as a Peace Corps volunteer over 35 years ago.  These were my staple foods then!

Malaysia is not the best place to go on a diet.  The food here --- Malay, Indian, and Chinese cuisines with all their regional variations --- is just too good.  I remember that in the late 1970's, the average female Peace Corps volunteer gained 10 lbs here during her tour.  I don't remember the stats for males, but they were similar.  I sure gained a lot of weight!

Finally, back at home, we unpack our modest haul of cakes and snacks.  A bottle of coconut water and the several types of Malay cakes and curry puffs serve as appetizers for our dinner that night.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of our weekly neighborhood night market...  sorry for the delay in posting, I lost my camera!  But never fear, and stay tuned!  We'll be back with pics of our short trip to Borneo!

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