It may not be London's Borough Market, nor Seattle's Pike Place Market nor even San Francisco's farmers market at the Ferry Building, but Kota Bharu's Siti Khadijah Market is perhaps Malaysia's most colourful and unique market: with its predominantly female (95%) traders, selling everything from fresh vegetables to fish, meats, even turtles eggs.
One section on the ground floor was totally dedicated to Kelantanese snacks. What I tried:
- Nasi dagang: aromatic steamed Kelantanese unpolished rice flavored with coconut milk, ginger, shallots and fenugreek seeds, with a slathering of chicken, beef or fish curry, all wrapped up conically using banana leaves.
- Nasi tumpeng: steamed, compressed white rice, with accompanying curries, also wrapped up in banana leaves into a long, conical form which is unique to the state of Kelantan (you don't see this in any of Malaysia's 12 other states). Tastewise, this *is* the best Malay food one can find in the country.
- Pulot bakar: steamed glutinous rice, flavored with coconut milk and sugar, and scented by cloves. These cakes are wrapped using banana leaves into round hockey puck shapes, then barbecued over charcoal flames, imparting an intoxicating fragrance to the end-product. Delish.
Other stuff I didn't try there - beef serondeng (mounds of spiced beef floss), etok (tiny local clams dredged from the Kelantan River) and a huge variety of Malay cakes and sweets, many Thai-influenced.
This market is a definite must-not-miss on any visit to Kota Bharu.
Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah
Jalan Pintu Pong
15000 Kota Bharu