Medan, Indonesia – At about 3pm each day throughout 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 yr, instructed Al Jazeera. “I solely work from three to 6 o’clock within the night and might make round an 80 % revenue.”
Takjil are small nibbles or mild 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 stated 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 yr, Reza will not be positive how effectively will probably be obtained and is barely making about 50 parts per day to check the waters.
Whereas Indonesia’s restaurateurs have historically seen takjil as a profitable strategy to earn cash earlier than the Eid al-Fitr vacation that marks the tip of Ramadan, enterprise took a extreme hit throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the peak 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 throughout the month. Final yr, he made about $658 by promoting takjil by the facet of the highway in one of many largest residential complexes in Medan, one thing that he’s repeating this yr.
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 in control of the household snack stall.
“The chocolate-covered bananas are the preferred snack we promote, in all probability as a result of they’re so candy and other people like candy issues after 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 positive what number of parts they promote, solely that the quantity is in “the a whole bunch”.
In contrast with Naila and Dava, Dewi Putri, who’s learning at college to be a pharmacist, is a newcomer to the takjil enterprise.
This yr, the 22-year-old is hoping to make some additional money throughout Ramadan by promoting es buah, a well-liked iced fruit cocktail dessert. She selected es buah because it requires no cooking or particular gear and has enlisted two associates 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 yr that I’ve bought takjil, and I’m hoping it’s profitable,” she instructed Al Jazeera. “I’m simply attempting my finest to see if it really works. It’s higher than sitting in my dormitory all day.”