Local stall serves up mantou buns with a twist at Ramadan Bazaar

Crispy mantou kebab, stuffed with black pepper beef filling.

By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING May 26: Every year during the holy month of Ramadan, they is an abundance of light savoury dishes available for Muslims to break their fast.

During this period, many Muslim vendors participating in various Ramadan Bazaars throughout the city prepare some light dishes not commonly found during non-festive occasions.

This writer took the opportunity to have a quick peek at a Ramadan Bazaar in Stutong Community Market and met a stall operator, the bubbly Ema Ismail.

Ema, who tends to her stall on behalf of her in-laws, told this writer that this year, the family wants to share some light dishes that would be ideal for breaking fast during dusk.

Ema tends the stall together with her family members at the Stutong Ramadan Bazaar.

“My in-laws have specialised in cooking halal steamed buns for many years, and during Ramadan, they wanted to try something different for their Muslim brothers and sisters breaking fast.

“We usually offer fillings of chicken, beef, red bean, butter, kaya and coconut bun for our customers over the years. So this year, we were a little innovative and prepared a light dish from our leavened bread.

“We came up with the idea of selling crispy mantou kebab,” she said.

“I believe crispy mantou kebab is something different from other light dishes prepared by fellow food operators here,” she added.

Hailing from Serian, Ema revealed that she started to get involved in food preparation in 2019.

She added that her in-laws had been making steamed buns for a long time, and now they have made it their business.

“I learned food preparation from my in-laws, and I am glad I can prepare and make steamed buns. I also learned to make crispy mantou kebab,” she disclosed.

“You know, there is nothing new in the savoury steamed bun that we prepare. With this new recipe, we also can have a light dish that customers can look forward to not just during the month of Ramadan.

Ema said that before they introduced the dish to the Ramadan Bazaar this year, their regular customers who had sampled their crispy mantou kebabs were very enthusiastic about the new item.

“We hope people like the light dish, and hopefully, we can do it on a bigger scale in the near future,” she added.

She explained that crispy mantou kebab involves rolling the leavened dough into flatbread; the size of a small pizza.

“The flatbread is deep fried. Then you fold the flat mantou bread into half and fill it up with savoury meat fillings of either chicken or beef,” she explained.

Ema said that these fillings gave the dish its crunchiness paired with the tenderness of handmade mantou.

She disclosed that their stall serves three variations of the crispy mantou kebab: ginger chicken mantou, egg chicken floss and black pepper beef.

Stacks of ready fried flat mantou bread to be filled with savoury chicken or beef fillings at Ema Ismail’s stall.

Ema revealed that the favourite this year so far is the black pepper beef.

She added that if not for the Covid-19 pandemic during the last two years, they would probably had introduced the dishes much earlier.

“There are many food business affected during the last two years. We are lucky to get a space at this Ramadan Bazaar this year,” she said.

After missing in action for over two years, the return of Ramadan Bazaars has brought hope to many food vendors, who have been kept busy with large crowds thronging bazaars to get a taste of the ubiquitous kuihs and many other local dishes.

“Do come and try all the light dishes we have here at our stall as Ramadan month is ending, and the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations is just around the corner.

“We will continue to be innovative in the culinary world. We want to make this crispy mantou kebab into a popular food among locals and have a place in the local culinary scene,” she added.

For more information, call 017-844 6830. — DayakDaily