The Jakarta Post
The profitability of vendors’ enterprises depends on the number of customers coming to the area on a particular day. (JP/Wienda Parwitasari)
The ongoing revamp works have not deterred vendors from Bendungan Hilir (Benhil) market area to set up stalls selling light iftar snacks, popularly known as takjil.
The street food vendors annually set up these stalls during the holy month of Ramadhan to contribute to the religious, festive atmosphere by selling takjil, while also earning extra income for their family.
The street vendors sell a wide range of dishes, ranging from fried snacks like risoles (fried Indonesian spring rolls), fried tofu and tempeh, to deserts such as kolak (compote) serabi and ice fruit cocktails, to full meals including the favorite fried whole chicken.
The street food vendors annually set up these stalls during the holy month of Ramadhan to contribute to the religious, festive atmosphere by selling takjil, while also earning extra income for their family.(JP/I.G. Dharma. J.S)
Achmadyani, 31, is a seasoned player in the takjil business. He is a Bogor farmer who annually comes to Jakarta with his family for the Ramadhan season. For the past 11 years, Achmadyani’s family has cooked large batches of fried snacks and prepared fruit cocktails to sell at the Benhil takjil market.
Selling the food at a humble average price of Rp 2,000, Achmadyani has always been able to sell most of the products. Aside from the all-time popular kolak and fried foodstuffs, savory martabak (stuffed pancake) are also a big hit at his stall.
With so many vendors selling fried takjil appetizers, one would wonder how each vendor strives to win customers from others. Sigit, one of the active “promotion guys”, shares some insight on their stall’s strategy.
“Organization probably plays a part in it,” he explains, gesturing towards the neatly-arranged trays laid out on his stall, “people will be more attracted if they see that you are organized because it shows reliability and credibility.”
The ongoing revamp works have not deterred vendors from Bendungan Hilir (Benhil) market area to set up stalls selling light iftar snacks, popularly known as takjil.(JP/I.G. Dharma. J.S)
Location matters too, apparently. Vendors located further into the tent-covered area benefit from customers who prefer shopping in a cooler atmosphere. On the other hand, vendors who wish to pull in as many passersby as possible, opt to set up on the edge of the sidewalks.
Buyers visiting Benhil come from near and far. Taking advantage of the summer break, Tessyanti Wijaya, 18, had come with her family from Pekanbaru to celebrate the Ramadhan season and exploring Benhil’s takjil market. She says that her family was planning to buy some fried snacks, and was particularly eyeing the classic fried tempeh.
Usually, takjil refers to the fried appetizer dishes, but vendor Eka, 32, is one of the very few stalls that could be seen selling full meals. “When you break the fast, you need to eat a full meal with your family too right? A lot of people who come here also consider buying chicken or vegetables and that’s why I choose to sell main-course dishes as opposed to deserts or appetizers,” she explains. Some of the favorites at her stall are gulai otak (cow’s brain stew), gulai pakis and kikil.
The profitability of vendors’ enterprises depends on the number of customers coming to the area on a particular day. Usually, the number of customers reaches its maximum between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., when most people have just finished work and are buying food to bring back either to their home or their office to carry out the buka bersama (breaking-the-fast together) tradition.
Regular customer Rini had brought her co-worker Tamam along with her to Benhil to buy takjil snacks for their office’s buka bersama later that day. Similarly, Mrs. Sundari, 45, also came to the Benhil market in preparation for buka bersama at her office in Bank BTN.
“My friend recommended that I come to Benhil,” she says, “There’s so many varieties here. I haven’t bought that many varieties, but as I bought a lot, unconsciously, I’ve already spent Rp 100,000!”
Relatively cheap and offering an array of traditional Indonesian food, Benhil market is definitely one of the must-go places to grab some takjil to bring back and share with your loved ones this Ramadhan. (sab/asw)