The Geylang bazaar is an annual fixture near Geylang Serai, one of the cultural seats of the Malay community in Singapore. Held during the fasting month of Ramadan, it’s part of the build up towards the celebrations of Hari Raya Adilfitri, one of the major holidays on the Singapore calendar. The bazaar sells a plethora of items – traditional baju kurung and kebaya, headscarves, rugs, table runners, accessories, fragrances, essential oils, baby outfits, slippers, shoes and more – but the real draw is the food. Apart from traditional pasar malam (or night market) food, there has been an influx of international food trends too. Here are some of our favourites:
Pasar malams have traditionally sold lots of artery-clogging but oh-so-delicious foods – among them grilled food. And at a Hari Raya Bazaar, where Malay food reigns supreme, you have to try dendeng and otah. Dendeng originated in Indonesia, and consists of thin slices of meat (usually beef) marinated in sugar and spices before being grilled. The resulting meat looks like the more widely known bakkwa!
Another grilled food you should try is otah-otah. Sometimes spelt otak-otak, fish paste is sealed within fresh banana leaves and grilled to impart a deliciously smoky flavour.
Apart from dendeng and otah-otah, you can try other barbequed items such as chicken wings and assorted meats and seafood!
Fried Finger Food
Street food all over the world spells paradise for a fried-food lover, and Singapore’s pasar malams are no exception. Dive in and take your pick of various types of fried noodles, fishballs, hotdogs, banana fritters, seaweed chicken, nuggets and more. Want an entire deep fried battered squid? Sure, why not?
A stalwart of every pasar malam, not just the Geylang Bazaar, the Ramly Burger is not for burger purists. What it is, however, is a flavourful burst of mixed textures served with theatrical flair. Eggs are cracked onto a hot metal plate, spread thin as they’re cooked and used to wrap the marinated patty usually made from beef, chicken or fish. This is then served with onions, mayo, and possibly some cabbage on a buttered (or margarined) burger bun. Each vendor does it a little differently, so it’s worth trying a few!
Kebab stalls are one of the most enticing, with the slowly rotating towers of meat slowly cooking in front of a vertical grill. Originally from Turkey, you can find stalls proclaiming to be authentic Turkish kebabs, although local or even Arabic twists on this dish are available.
One of the big hits that everyone’s talking about this year is the availability of rainbow bagels at the Geylang Bazaar. These brightly coloured bagels are part of a trend that originated in New York, but are now available much closer to home!
Rolled Fried Ice Cream
The ice cream base is “fried” on a cold metal plate, forming a thin layer of frozen ice cream that is rolled up. You can take your pick of various toppings and sauces to customise your ice cream – so sinful, but so good! They have the added benefit of being really pretty when packed into the paper cup – great for those food selfies.
Who doesn’t love s'mores?! This melted, gooey marshmallows are perfect paired with graham crackers, and here you can get your melted marshmallows made on the spot for you as a dip.
Deep Fried Oreos
Live a little, you’re on holiday! Oreos are great on their own, but they make fantastic additions to ice creams, milk shakes… and dough. Yep, these iconic cookies have been dipped in batter and deep fried, giving you what is essentially an Oreo-stuffed mini doughnut!
Amazing Fruit Concoctions
Make no mistake, visiting the Geylang Bazaar is going to be a hot, sweaty venture. Not only is it outdoors with no air-conditioning or fans, the crowds will ratchet up the humidity factor. Icy drinks, then, become indispensable. Cool off with a Watermelon Volcano, or a Coconut Shake. Coconut water blended with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and lots of ice is a perfect thirst quencher for our weather.
How to Get There
Have we tempted you yet? To get to the Geylang Bazaar, simply take the MRT to Paya Lebar MRT Station (EW8/CC9) on the East-West and Circle Line, and head towards the Singapore Post building or Tanjong Katong Complex. You can't miss the white tentage and crowds!