During Ramadan, Yogyakarta mushrooms with seasonal culinary markets, offering enterprising residents a chance to earn some extra cash, and patrons a vast array of tantalising fare.
Ramadan is celebrated in almost every market in the city. And new stalls crop up in Muslim-majority neighbourhoods (Kampongs) such as Jogokaryan, and Nitikan, and in high-traffic areas like Bulaksumur, where Gajah Mada University is located, and near Syuhada Mosque, one of Yogyakarta's oldest.
Traditional food and snacks are on offer, but interestingly, the markets are quite diverse, with flavours from Sabang to Merauke – the eastern and westernmost cities of Indonesia -- and beyond, due to the large number of migrants, particularly students, in the region.
Mardiah, a vendor at Kampong Kauman, said that during Ramadan, the venerable evening market – a Yogya landmark since 1973 – is bursting with desserts, such as traditional Indonesian pastries and Western Indonesia treats like mud cake, known as Kue Lumpur.
"Mud cake is one of the favourites here. We are often overwhelmed with requests for mud cake," she told Khabar Southeast Asia.
Duman Pereira, a graduate student at Gadjah Mada University from Timor-Leste, says Ramadan is a good time to earn additional income while respecting the Muslim fasting month.
"We usually make some East Timorese dishes during Ramadan and sell it in front of Bulak Sumur Boulevard," in front of the university gates, he said. "It is a good opportunity to earn some money for the next holiday."
Duman stated, "I receive approximately 200,000 rupiah ($21) per day selling these foods. For students, this amount of money is quite a lot. Especially for me, a foreign student," Duman told Khabar.
He also noted that his efforts are supported by many of his Indonesian colleagues.
"This is not only a chance to earn money but also to maintain friendships. I am Catholic, but I respect and encourage my Muslim fellows to finish their fast."
According to the chairwoman of Yogyakarta Cultural Foundation, Widya Utaminingsih Widi, the seasonal markets attract a diverse clientele – and should be developed as a tourist attraction in the region, already a major tourist draw due to its wealth of traditional culture.
Widya noted that the Ramadan market is usually crowded in the afternoon before the time for breaking fast. Local and international tourists buy a variety of traditional snacks and culinary dishes.
"If the managers obtain guidance, especially in terms of structuring their business, the Ramadan markets can attract a large number of tourists," Widya told Khabar.
Haryadi Suyuti, the mayor of Yogyakarta, shares that view.
"These activities in many Kampongs in Yogyakarta can stimulate the tourism industry, and it can be an asset for Yogyakarta," he told Khabar after opening of the Ramadan market in Kampong Jogokaryan on July 20th.
The chairwoman of the event in Jogokaryan, Swasta Gustami, said this year's market is much bigger than last year's.
"All these activities are making for a more festive Ramadan," she said.