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Facing Food While Fasting: A Muslim Hawker's Life During Ramadan


Shasha Dania •  May 23, 2019


Tell us a bit about yourself and the story of Deanna’s Kitchen.
When I married my husband and reverted to Islam, I found that I wasn’t able to get hold of the Chinese Hokkien prawn mee that I grew up eating. Every time I head out, I will only see the non-halal versions. I loved prawn mee a lot when I was young and many childhood memories of mine involved my grand aunt and my mum cooking prawn mee at family gatherings. Hence I decided to try to recreate the dish myself at home.
Credit: @denisedeanna on Instagram It took me about 6 years to get the recipe right and I posted on my Instagram page that I could eat the prawn mee that’s halal. It’s surprising that many came to me and asked if they can purchase it from me. So I decided to hold a pop up sale every now and then when I have the time. The responses were very good and when we realised that there is an empty stall opposite our house for rental, we decided to take the plunge and open a physical shop.
What tips do you have for aspiring stall owners out there?
My tip is to start small so that there are less financial risks. As a startup, as long as you are not exposed to too much financial risk, the stress is lesser. That was our mentality too. We started at a hawker stall where it is cheaper and we thought to ourselves is that if we fail, we won’t go bankrupt or starve. With that in mind, we had the confidence to go ahead. And believe in God. We were so thankful that everything fell into place as naturally as could be so much that when we think about our journey to this 3rd stall, we can only say it is by God’s Grace that we have managed to come this far. So we did a lot, a lot of charity since we opened the shop, it is our way of giving thanks.
What do you love most about Ramadan and what do you look forward to every year?
Credit: @denisedeanna on Instagram
I love that it is our chance in the entire year to be as close to God as possible and I love how it instils in me a sense of discipline and the yearning to do good and be good throughout the month.
How’s a typical day like for you during Ramadan? How does it compare to your day outside of Ramadan?
Ramadan is a more relaxing time as compared to usual because we operate later from 3pm to 9pm instead of from 9am. So after sahur, I will still manage to take a nap before getting ready to go to the shop.
Congratulations on opening your third stall! How different is Ramadan this year with the third stall?
Credit: @denisedeanna on Instagram It is more challenging as the footfall to this new stall is higher than the rest. Actually, all our stalls are opened during Ramadan and we see it as a blessing.
What’s it like being an F&B stall owner and dealing with food the whole day? Would you say that’s your biggest challenge during Ramadan?
For me, it is the challenge to stay calm and collected especially during rush hours. It was really a great test for my patience. And the thirst because I have to constantly talk to customers and take their orders and relay the orders to my team. So that was a challenge too!
How do you handle the iftar ‘rush’ at the end of the day?
Credit: @denisedeanna on Instagram
So far, there isn’t any rush, Alhamdulillah, as most of our customers preferred to take home and break fast. What we do is to give customers a number and we will take their order. We will prepare beforehand and once it is nearing iftar, they will come and collect, we will then pour soup. This is to ensure that the soup is warm and noodles not soggy.
Do you have time to eat a proper meal when breaking fast?
Yes! We always managed to get at least a meal during iftar as we take turns in the shop to sit down and break our fast.
One of the things that we really love about your prawn noodles is of course, the broth (: How do you manage to maintain the standards during Ramadan especially when you can’t taste food?
Credit: @denisedeanna on Instagram We will have to use our instincts and also smell to gauge whether the soup is up to standard. We have a fixed measurement of how each condiment is added so as long as proportions are right, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
How do you cope with tending to the stall, family commitments and ibadah during Ramadan?
Credit: @denisedeanna on Instagram I have the help of my workers at the stall to manage it, I have the support of my mum to take care of my son, and also the support of my bibiks at home to ensure my house is clean. Most importantly I have the support of my husband who makes sure that I have the time for everything.
What keeps you going during Ramadan even though it’s tough sometimes?
I believe that God doesn’t give me challenges that I cannot overcome and with that, I have managed to get through every obstacle thrown my way. It’s the belief and faith that guides me through.
How has Ramadan changed for you since you reverted to Islam? What was the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt thus far?
Credit: @denisedeanna on Instagram I reverted to Islam 10 years ago. The most valuable lesson that I have learnt is that when you knock on the door a hundred times, it doesn’t open, means it won’t open. But a door will open even if you don’t knock it because of God’s will. Sorry, I’m not able to put it in a more learned way. What I’m trying to put across is that it is already planned and we will just have to follow along and in the journey itself, to be true to God and to be true to your beliefs. Deanna's KitchenHalal Status: Muslim-Owned Address: 127 Toa Payoh Lor 1 #02-25 (closed during Ramadan, reopening 14 Jun) 214 Jurong East St 21 Padi Emas (open during Ramadan) 129 Bedok North St 2 Mukmin (open during Ramadan) Ramadan Opening Hours: 3pm - 9pm (Tues-Sat), closed on Sundays and Mondays (only for Jurong East and Bedok outlets) * The Bedok outlet will be open on 26 May (Sun) and 2 Jun (Sun) from 2pm - 8pm. Contact:delivery form FacebookInstagram [iframe seamless="seamless" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" height="450" width="100%" scrolling="no" src="https://pollbuzz.co/frame/3194?type=poll"][/iframe]