Feast for the Senses @ Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah, KelantanAugust 26, 2010 | 9,738 views
Fresh produce @ Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah – The sisterhood of Kota Bharu, Kelantan doing their thang!!
Now wait a minute there, Motormouth. Didn’t this visit to the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia take place back in June of (wait for it) … 2009?!!!!
Yeah, a little later than usual; I knew I just had to put into words this amazing escape to Kelantan; that happened slightly more than a year ago. Before this poor old man’s memory fails him, allow me to share some of the shots taken in and around Kota Bharu; the capital of the state Kelantan.
After the jump, be mesmerized by the sheer vibrancy and burst of colours streaking the iconic market of Kelantan; Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah, as well as the availability of various sweet snacks sold at the market ……
Fascinatingly linear structures – The comparatively clean wet market segment of Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah; the most photographed market in Malaysia.
Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah was previously known as Pasar Besar Buluh Kubu, before the renaming process by the Menteri Besar of Kelantan; Y.A.B. Tuan Guru Dato’ Haji Nik Abdul Aziz bin Nik Mat to commemorate the sacrifices and contribution of the fairer sex. An interesting trivia question here : Wanna know who is(was) Siti Khadijah, and why the feminine tag?
A Malay lady routinely packing those fresh, snaking rolls of ‘fish sausage’ or Lekor to be purchased and steamed or deep-fried back in the comfort of one’s home.
Answer : Siti Khadijah was the name of the wife of Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam. The market is named as such because the majority of the traders at the market are ladies. But no worries, it does not matter whether you’re a guy, a girl, a child or an elderly, you’re bound to be charmed by the picturesque ambience of the largest market in Kelantan.
Neatly placed on metal trays and displayed on their respective elevated platform; the fresh produce sold daily at Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah is a vivid sight to behold
Clockwise from top left : Beautiful tiffin carriers hanging from the hooks, Colourful layers of fabrics for the ladies, Ready-to-eat snacks from another stall, and the Dried Fresh “Lekor” to be fried before consumption
Bite-sized, individually-packed ‘dodol‘ – A type of sweet and sticky delicacy that is popular on the east coast of Malaysia. Usually cloyingly sweet, the snack is usually flavoured with “pandan” (screwpine leaf) essence, “gula melaka” (palm sugar), or even durian.
Of course, since everything’s made freshly and by the traders mostly; the “Dodol” can also be purchased in blocks, and in specific grams.
Serunding – Meat Floss with a spicy nuance. A traditional favourite especially come Hari Raya Puasa (in about half a month from now !!!), the finely-shredded meat from either beef or chicken (rarely; fish as well) is fried until absolutely dried with lots of spices to achieve that special texture and taste.
Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah is separated into four floors. The ground floor covers the fresh produce like chicken, fish, vegetables etc. The first floor is dedicated to dried foods such as the ‘serunding’, ‘dodol’, and even cooked dishes with rice, and noodles. The other floors are solely populated by stalls selling clothings, souvenirs, household apparatus, decorative ornaments, etc.
While at a separate segment outside of the eight-cornered structure (an octagon-shaped building), you can find various stalls populated by traders selling cooked food, Kelantanese sweets (and dang they’re LEGENDARY for their high tolerance to tooth-numbing light bites!), cakes, confectioneries, and so forth.
Boiled corn kennels taken with coconut flesh and salt. You can opt for sugar if you want to.
The myriad of kuih-muih (snacks/light bites) sold at the market was mind-boggling. You would have a tough time recognizing them all, let alone picking your choices. If all else fails, go with the flow and ask for the names or recommendations. Or just buy a little bit of everything!
Most of the sweet delights are made from duck eggs; the egg white used in the making of Kuih Tahi Itik (or literally translated to an unsavoury name of duck’s droppings!) while the golden yolk used in Kuih Jala Mas, Bunga Tanjung, Pauh Dilayang, etc.
Children will definitely fall for this. The pandan-flavoured chiffon cake with icing comes with the extra ‘toy’ to grab your attention!
Foreground - Kuih Jala Mas, Background – The infamous Tahi Itik
Some stalls are still making their kuih the traditional way; extremely generous with the sweets. But thankfully (or unfortunately?), the rising cost of sugar and higher awareness of healthy lifestyle rendered some of the traders to reduce the sugar content. Hence making the sweet snacks more palatable to the masses, in my opinion.
The golden-hued items such as Jala Mas and Bunga Tanjung had a rich, dense and creamy flavour to them; no thanks to the use of caloric-laden egg yolks. The soft, mashed balls of Tahi Itik on the other hand, were not as appealing aesthetically, but somehow eating egg whites should be healthier … no?
And my favourite; AKOK. A wrinkly patty made from wheat flour, eggs, coconut milk and most importantly; gula melaka (palm sugar syrup).
My favourite “kuih” from the market? The Akok of course. And you can find this snack at various Ramadan bazaars this fasting month; even in Ipoh as I was told. A palm-sized snack with a fluffy texture, and baked until golden brown and wrinkly (some believe that the more wrinkles the “kuih” has, the better!), I could munch on these during my tea break on any day! And not as sweet as the other “kuih-muih” I sampled that day.
Stand near, feast your senses, and try not to get in her way. But you can ask for the names and such, if you’re curious and need to double check.
We spent about an hour or so at the market. More than enough, if you’re only seeking for the food items; whether to be eaten on the spot (various kuih-muih, laksam, nasi kerabu) or to be brought back home (dodol, serunding daging, lekor etc).
Navigating around the market was not tough, but the lack of proper signage made us go rounds and ended up bumping into our colleagues again and again (oh, did I mention this visit was for WORK?). Try to go in a larger group to enhance your bargaining power.
The Iconic Siti Khadijah Market of Kota Bharu, Kelantan.
Here are some pleasurable reads on Kelantan:
Pak Zawi did TWO informative parts on Food of Kelantan, Old Memories Never Die mentioned about the traditional foods of Kelantan, An interesting article on how the MB of Kelantan suggested to change the name of Tahi Itik into something more pleasing to the ears.