Indonesia’s snack sellers eye Ramadan bonanza after pandemic ache | Enterprise and Financial system

Medan, Indonesia – At about 3pm day by day in the course of the holy month of Ramadan, Mohammad Reza, 34, will get to work at his roadside stall within the Indonesian metropolis of Medan.

Utilizing a gas-powered oven set on a grassy financial institution subsequent to a busy roundabout, Reza heats up precooked parts of macaroni schotel to promote to hungry Indonesians who’ve been fasting from dawn to sundown.

“I get pleasure from promoting takjil as it’s easy,” Reza, who runs a hen restaurant throughout the remainder of the 12 months, instructed Al Jazeera. “I solely work from three to 6 o’clock within the night and may make round an 80 % revenue.”

Macaroni schotel stacked in a plastic container.
Mohammad Reza makes about 80 % revenue promoting precooked macaroni schotel throughout Ramadan [Aisyah Llewellyn]

Takjil are small nibbles or gentle dishes eaten in Indonesia for iftar — the meal at sundown when Muslims break quick. Takjil means “to hurry up” in Arabic and has in flip been adopted into Bahasa Indonesia to imply “to hurry up breaking quick”.

Reza mentioned that a few of his common clients at his restaurant additionally double as takjil patrons — they gave him the concept of bite-sized macaroni schotel as a takjil dish, which Reza makes from pasta, hen mince, sausage and marinara sauce.

Because the dish is on the Ramadan menu for the primary time this 12 months, Reza shouldn’t be certain how nicely it will likely be acquired and is just making about 50 parts per day to check the waters.

Whereas Indonesia’s restaurateurs have historically seen takjil as a profitable solution to become profitable earlier than the Eid al-Fitr vacation that marks the top of Ramadan, enterprise took a extreme hit in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the top of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, Reza was pressured to promote his takjil in entrance of his house. The majority of his gross sales got here on-line by way of meals supply apps Seize and GoFood.

Even with the assistance of enterprise on-line, Reza nonetheless solely made roughly half the quantity that he could make with a roadside stall — about $329 in the course of the month. Final 12 months, he made about $658 by promoting takjil by the facet of the street in one of many largest residential complexes in Medan,  one thing that he’s repeating this 12 months.

Naila holds a plastic container filled with fuchsia-coloured takjil. She is smiling.
Naila’s household have been promoting takjil for many years [Aisyah Llewellyn]

Schoolgirl Naila’s household has been promoting takjil snacks since her father, now in his 40s, was at school. Now Naila, 18, and her cousin Dava, 16, are accountable for the household snack stall.

“The chocolate-covered bananas are the most well-liked snack we promote, in all probability as a result of they’re so candy and folks like candy issues once they have been fasting all day,” Naila instructed Al Jazeera.

The takjil stall could make about $130 each day, making it extra profitable than the household hen restaurant, which generally pulls in about $92.

The household sells roughly 50 totally different sorts of snacks, together with fried spring rolls, mini doughnuts, jellies, pancakes and cream puffs. There are such a lot of totally different varieties that they don’t seem to be certain what number of parts they promote, solely that the quantity is in “the lots of”.

Dewi Putri smiles from behind her stall.
Dewi Putri is a newcomer to the takjil enterprise [Aisyah Llewellyn]

In contrast with Naila and Dava, Dewi Putri, who’s finding out at college to be a pharmacist, is a newcomer to the takjil enterprise.

This 12 months, the 22-year-old is hoping to make some further money throughout Ramadan by promoting es buah, a preferred iced fruit cocktail dessert. She selected es buah because it requires no cooking or particular gear and has enlisted two pals to assist her serve clients.

Putri makes the drink by mixing raspberry syrup with condensed milk earlier than including totally different sorts of fruit similar to papaya, dragon fruit, melon and strawberries, in addition to grass jelly and nata de coco.

“That is the primary 12 months that I’ve offered takjil, and I’m hoping it’s profitable,” she instructed Al Jazeera. “I’m simply making an attempt my greatest to see if it really works. It’s higher than sitting in my dormitory all day.”


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