An attempt to visit every suburb in Sydney.

We interrupt your regular programming with a Completing Sydney Holiday Special. For Muslims, Ramadan is a holy month where people fast durin...

Holiday Special: Lakemba Ramadan Markets

We interrupt your regular programming with a Completing Sydney Holiday Special.


For Muslims, Ramadan is a holy month where people fast during the day and only eat and drink at night. The post-fast meal (breakfast, if you will), is often characterised by great feasts with friends and family. 


If, like me, you're not a Muslim, you can still participate in the festivities by heading to Lakemba during the month of Ramadan for their becoming-famous Ramadan markets. I've held off on covering this suburb until I've had a chance to visit these markets (Covid has stepped on those plans the past couple of years), so I'm excited to check them out for myself.

Lakemba

In a spot of rare after-work suburbsing, Mrs Completing Sydney and I headed to Lakemba by train, arriving literally at sunset. 

Rather than head straight for the markets, I figured it would be good to give the suburb a spot of exploration while we still had a bit of light (and before we got too full of food). 

Plus it seems a bit mean to be first in line for a meal in front of folks who haven't eaten since 6am.

As such, we headed to the northern exit of the station to start seeing what Lakemba has to offer. Unlike most suburbs on a Monday evening, the shops here were very much open today, ready for folks to come shopping. 

Here, I found the misspelled Egiptian Gifts,

and groceries and restaurants from across the Islamic world raring to go.

Other highlights on this side include this grocer with some particularly vivid fruits and vegetables outside, 

and perhaps the most verbose store sign I've ever come across. 

The North is definitely the smaller end of Lakemba's CBD though, with the stores quickly being replaced with houses,

apartments, 

and this gang of ibises.

I also passed this church,

with a cute secondary building on its side, 

before heading in for a quick touch of residential Lakemba.

This bit of suburban Lakemba is full of older brick apartments and houses, 

and a lot of cats. 

Carrying on, 

I found this one over-the-top house, 

complete with front-yard-fountain,

before making my way towards a point of interest in this bit of the suburb. 

Here's Lakemba Mosque. It's quite large and was very nicely lit up today (I can't tell you if this is just for Ramadan or if it's always lit up at night). I chose to take my picture from a bit of a distance as there was lots of people streaming in and out just after the sunset and it felt a bit rude taking a photo, so please enjoy my off-centre photo of the place. 

Anyway. The mosque sits next to this smelly canal which was dramatically lit up in the day's dying light, but from here it was time to head back to the CBD for the main event. 

On the way back I passed someone's Ramadan fairy lights, 

a child's abandoned car - with the crime scene taped off by the council, 

and, of course, Bongo House. 

Made it. 

As alluded to earlier, the Ramadan Markets are mostly at the southern side of the station, 

with this helpful council sign offering a map of all of the participants. 

So what do you get at the Ramandan Markets? Well, lots of food from across the Middle East, South Asia and a sprinkling of Southeast Asia too. 

Being a Monday night, things aren't nearly as busy here as they can get (on the weekends I believe they close the entire street and you have giant crowds), 

but the atmosphere was still great regardless, with lots of people from different backgrounds enjoying lots of different food. 

Here's a limited selection of photos I managed to take (the crowds on the narrow footpaths made it a bit difficult to capture everything I wanted unless I just wanted pictures of people's backs).

Burgers (the camel burger is one of the more famous draws here).

Middle Eastern desserts,

and coffee,

chicken skewers on hot coals,

a chocolate fondue fountain (for some reason),

and some great looking falafel. 

For our dinner, we decided on a camel burger and some chicken tikka with naan. 

The camel meat was actually super tasty and definitely worth trying (not far from beef, with a bit of extra flavour - probably mostly due to the spices they've added to the patty), but the star of the show was the chicken tikka from those blokes above cooking it over hot coals. Super juicy, flavoursome (and spicy!)

To quell the fire, some ice cream went down nicely. I don't know if this is traditional or not as I've never seen it before, but this is an ice-cream version of a milk, pistachio and rosewater pudding that they do in the Middle East called muhalayeh (or however the hell you transliterate it). The pudding version is pictured in one of the images above. I actually enjoyed this ice cream version more than I enjoy the pudding version that I've had before. 

I also couldn't say no to some Palestinian knafeh - a dish primarily consisting of plenty of cheese and sugar. As a Palestinian myself, I found this version to be a bit too far on the sweet and rich side, but if you haven't had it before, it's still worth a try, even if my mum can do it better 😉. 

We ate our knafeh standing in front of the bootleg "AGA" supermarket. 

And a strawberry and lemon drink was a refreshing option to cut through it all. 

Sadly, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs today, and we couldn't try everything we wanted. 

For instance, there was a huge line in front of a Southeast Asian place making murtabak (a type of stuffed pancake), the falafels in one of the pictures above looked worth a taste, and it's always hard to say no to a fresh jalebi (a fried, bright orange, sweet snack popular across South Asia). 

I guess I'll have to come back before the end of Ramadan. 

The markets are on every night until the end of Ramadan, from 2 April to 1 May. You can find more info on the Canterbury Bankstown council website https://www.cbcity.nsw.gov.au/events/ramadan-nights-lakemba.

Thanks for bearing with me on this different-to-usual blog post. My regular suburbsing will resume on Sunday with where we left off.

Lakemba: Is it cheating to feast without the fast?

2 comments:

  1. Magnificent post! Really captures the spirit of the place and the early evening light makes the pre-dinner photos ultra-lovely (especially the mosque). I truly loved this slightly different focus -- more suburb special events would be an excellent way to extend the blog.

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    1. Thank you for the very kind comment!

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