Breaking fast

Finally, some local culture!

Yesterday, when I went outside for my early evening 2.5-mile walk, I was overwhelmed by the crowd on the street alongside my apartment building. There were so many parked motorcycles I could barely get to the street.

Making prata, first the dough

Making prata, first the dough is made very flat. Then it is placed on a flat skillet and an egg/chicken/curry filling is added. Then it is folded twice to form a square. When it is fried, it is cut into pieces for eating with a curry sauce.

I had read about the crowds gathering at the end of each day of Ramadan, finding food to end their daily fasting, but having been cloistered at Smiling Hill for my first 2 1/2 years in Batam, I had never experienced Ramadan among the population first-hand. It was a mob scene.

Interestingly, though, the mob scene was not everywhere, only in pockets like the side street next to my apartment. All the regular street and in-building restaurants (warung) were closed. I didn’t realize until the next day that was because their owners had moved their operations to outdoor street scenes like on my street.

So today I decided to venture into the throngs of hungry people with my camera. It was a madhouse, with one lone bule (me) trying to force his way through the crowd, while also trying to take pictures.

The variety of foods being offered was mind-boggling, and I have no idea what most of them were. But there was a selection of fish and chicken curries (kari ikan/ayem), barebeque fish (ikan bakar), fruit juices, breads (roti) of all sorts, filled and fried pancakes (roti prata), fruits, a host of pastries and sweets, and much more. One vendor was even selling tropical fish in plastic bags.

Curry snails, extremely spicy

Curry snails, extremely spicy

The street is normally for traffic and is lined by businesses on one side and warungs on the other. But for now, it is closed to everything but people and motorbikes.

Mostly, people just came to buy their food and take it away in plastic bags. There was no place to sit to dine. And my Aceh friends from the warung across the street from my apartment, where I have eaten numerous times, were there cooking a variety of barbequed fish. I even ran into a couple of women I know from the bars. But the only bule was me, with my camera, which might have made me stand out a bit.

This scene will be repeated every night through Ramadan, which runs through July 18. True believers gorge themselves every morning before the sun comes up, and then do not eat, drink, smoke or have sex until the sun goes down. Then they stuff themselves again.

I did buy several things: roti prata, some sweets and some fried bread items. Roti prata is a fried flour-based pancake that is cooked over a flat grill. It is usually served with a vegetable- or meat-based curry and is from Malaysia and Singapore. Prata is also commonly cooked upon request with cheese, onion, banana, red bean, chocolate. Mine had chicken in it.

Here are my photos:

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About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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5 Responses to Breaking fast

  1. 2bagsandapack says:

    Thanks for the recommendations

  2. Serani Andi says:

    on one of your local wanders try Bu Joko, it’s an authentic sunda resto beside the GoodWay hotel. Sunday buffet’s are spectacular.

    Also do you know if you can still get martabak at night where they play chess in the street at the night bazaar at the Ramayana store in jodoh , it’s not far from where you took those great photos.

  3. 2bagsandapack says:

    thank you sir. it was fun

  4. Cool and good pics

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