If you haven’t visited Lakemba before, now is the time to go especially if you’re a street food lover. Every night during the month of Ramadan Lekemba’s main street will transform into a welcoming food festival. Families and friends can be seen walking the paths of Haldon Street as stalls are lined up on both sides of the road with charcoal grill BBQ’s, juice stands, dessert stands and many different types of stalls selling traditional food and drinks.
Everywhere you look there are people lining up outside the stalls and plumes of smoke can be seen rising from charcoal BBB’s and large pots of sahlab, smells and aromas of seekh kebabs tantalise the taste buds. It’s an experience you have to try once for yourself.
What is Ramadan
The month of Ramadan marks the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is considered the most holy and blessed month. During this month Muslims fast from dawn till dusk and strictly follow prayers and reciting of the Koran. At Sunset Muslims will pray either at home or at the mosque and upon finishing the prayers will be allowed to break the fast. This break in fast is called ‘Iftar’ otherwise known as a meal shared with family and friends after sunset.
The food festival has been happening in Lakemba every year for the last 10 years with lots of people arriving here after evening prayers to feast on the delicious food and drink.
The stalls begin setting up at around 4pm and trade continues until early morning. The best time to visit is around 7 – 8pm when all the stalls have been set up and the food is ready to be served.
This is the first time we visited after hearing all my friends talk about it. I’m happy we decided to check it out as it allowed us to taste traditional foods and try a variety of different cuisines all in one place.
Each stall holder has to have a permit to be allowed to serve street food that complies with health and safety regulations. This is provided by Canterbury City Council and each stall has its own unique number to identify they have authorized permission to serve food.
While the food festival has been designed for Muslims observing Ramadan, everyone is welcome to purchase and enjoy the food.
You will need to bring cash with you to purchase food. Prices are reasonable but have increased over the years. Some of the popular options like ‘Camel’ burgers cost $8 each. Sahlab which is a traditional cold dessert costs $5, corn on the cob $5 so most items range between $5 – $10.
You will find a range of different cuisines here to try such as Lebanese, Indian, Chennai, Pakistani and more.
We tried as many different foods as we could until we were full. It was a fun experience overall and enjoyable. It’s great to come down here with the family or gather a group of friends. Brings your jackets for those colder evenings and remember to bring lots of cash.
Here’s are the photos taken from our evening in Lakemba.
Chicken chennai roti was the first thing we ate. It was really fresh, packed with flavour and delicious. It was really interesting to watch them stretch out fresh paratha dough and fry it. It cost $7 per roti. You can also order with beef and they add on top cheese, chilies and onions. Be sure to tell them you don’t want chilies if you don’t like it spicy.
Creamy rich Sahlab dessert. $5 each they were served in nice dessert bowls and they had a topping of cinnamon and chopped pistachios. They were Delicious. It’s traditionally eaten hot, but it can be eaten cold too, once it has set into a pudding.
We tried this drink for the first time. Salab is a creamy rich sweet milk that is traditionally served with a dusting of cinnamon. It’s made with sahlab flour that comes from wild orchid root. You can buy it from any Lebanese grocery store. It’s the perfect hot drink for the cold winter nights.
How to get here
Drive to Haldon Street Lakemba. Parking is hard to find during the food fest but if you get here early you may be lucky to find parking on the main street otherwise you will have to look on the side streets. Alternately you can catch a train to Lakemba station which would be the best option. Food stalls are set up along Haldon Street near Lakemba rail station.
Food Festival start and end dates
The Lakemba Ramadan food festival will run from Wednesday, the 16th of May and will continue for 30 days until Thursday, the 14th of June 2018. Stalls will open every evening from 4pm until 3am. Restaurants and shops will also be open during this time.