Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ramadan, a feast of particular food and fireworks in Indonesia

Besides the God's blessing and forgiveness, Indonesians expect a feast of foods particularly available during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

And for the children, Ramadan means the time to play fireworks after breaking the fasting with the family.

The particular foods used to be provided as ta'jil, or snacks for Muslim to break their fasting in the evening. Many people are tapping fortune during Ramadan by selling ta'jil on the sidewalk.

Yuli is a vendor among the numerous ones selling ta'jil in Balai Pustaka Street, East Jakarta. She sells stuffed fried tofu, spring rolls and fried tempeh (soy cake) and kolak, a particular beverage which has been the favorite for Indonesian Muslims to break the fasting.

Kolak is actually a coconut milk soup cooked with coconut brown sugar and filled with banana and sweet potato.

Another beverage that particularly found during Ramadan is Timun Suri. It is an iced beverage filled with syrup and sweet large-sized cucumber that gives sensation of chewing soft and tender sponge-like fruit that melts inside the mouth. This beverage is only found in Jakarta.

"My mother made all of these foods. I sell them with my younger sister. Thank God, I often bring empty bucket home everyday during Ramadan," the teenage vendor said.

Yuli said that she can earn some 100,000 rupiah (about 10 U.S. dollars) in net profit from the ta'jil food she sold per day.

"We save the profit to buy foods and new clothes to celebrate the Idul Fitri," she said.

Most of the vendors start selling the ta'jil food from around4.00 p.m. to shortly before the fasting breaking time take place, or the time period recognized by Indonesian Muslims as 'ngabuburit' that means a time to waste before breaking the fasting.

Other particular foods for ta'jil were lapis legit (a layered cake), dadar gulung (brown sugar wrapped in a pancake), lemper (steamed glutinous rice mixed with meat and wrapped in a banana leaf) and bolu kukus (steamed ball-shaped cake filled with sweet garnishes).

Besides sold on the sidewalk, the ta'jil is provided freely in the mosques for the travelers who fail to get home to break the fasting with the family.

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