Stall owner finds recipe of success in jars

PUTRAJAYA - When Zaidi Alamin Fuaad started using large clay jars to roast chicken last Ramadan, he knew he had hit paydirt.

Learning from mistakes, such as burnt chicken along the way, he figured the clay jars would be a unique selling point that could draw the crowd.

He was spot on. Customers have swarmed his stall, called Ayam Champion, at the Precinct 2 Ramadan bazaar here.

"It's the same thing that we sold last year, but once we started calling one of our recipes 'Italiano', I haven't had any time to sit," said the 30-something man from Gombak.

Zaidi's Ayam Champion is among two popular grilled chicken stalls at the month-long Ramadan bazaar.

He sells at RM18 ($7) per bird in two varieties - Ayam Malaya, which is steeped in Malay spices, and the Western-inspired "Italiano" recipe.

These fancy names have helped to double his daily sales to around 100 birds compared to last year.

Just a stone's throw away, bazaar veteran, known only as Awang, is also enjoying good business.

His Ayam Madu Istanbul stall has an unendless stream of customers hooked on his recipe of slow-cooked goodness slathered in honey.

"This is my eighth year running a stall at the Ramadan bazaar. When I started, I was the only one selling whole chicken. It was a big risk, because if people don't buy, you take a big hit to your capital," said Awang, a 50-year-old native of Sipitang, Sabah.

"I'm thankful my business has been improving every year," added the entrepreneur, who claims to sell an average of 120 birds a day at RM22 each.