In Singapore’s bustling Bukit Merah Central area is a seemingly inconspicuous and humble stall offering delicious Halal food and even better inspiration. Aziema Muslim stall, run by Azizah and her younger sister, is always buzzing with people, especially during lunchtime.
Azizah is a warm and bubbly Muslimah. She is the eldest of three siblings, and works alongside her sister at her Halal food stall, serving customers delicious home-style food every day. We sat down for an interview with Azizah, and left feeling the utmost respect for her, her work ethic, and her devotion to her family.
Azizah tells us the story of how her journey as a food stall owner began. She was only about 9 years old when her mother fell sick, and she spent the subsequent two years taking care of not only her sick mother, but her siblings as well.
They also struggled a lot with money. As an attempt to earn a bit of extra pocket money for herself and her siblings, she asked her neighbors to make anything they could that she could sell. She would then give them most of what she made and keep a very small amount for herself as commission.
Her food stall is not just as a way for her to make an income, but also for her love of food. She says she used to spend her time as a young girl every day in the kitchen after school, cooking all kinds of dishes for her siblings. Nasi Lemak was always a hit at home.
An anecdote she tells us about this time in her life shows us her perseverance from a very young age. When her mortar began to dull as the result of crushing chili every day by hand and she found that the tool had become useless, she didn’t think of giving up. “If there’s a will, there’s a way,” she said. As a young girl with limited resources, she somehow came up with the idea of taking a small pestle and beating on the mortar repeatedly until it became sharp again.
She has been running Aziema Muslim stall at Bukit Merah Central for 10 years now, before which she had another stall at Telok Blangah Crescent for 20 years. According to her, most of her customers are from the younger generation, and the best part of her day is when they come back, plates empty and bellies full, to thank her for her food and service.
The secret of her success? She says it’s cooking with love! She follows the advice of her late mother-in-law every day, that whatever she cooks should be of impeccable standard, quality and taste. She also advices that we must learn from our mistakes, and not let them knock us down. And of course, it’s important to have fun in what you’re doing.
If you’re ever in the area and are looking for Halal food stalls at Bukit Merah Central, you cannot miss Aziema Muslim stall. While you’re there, make sure to try all the crowd favorites like fried chicken, begedil, rendang, sambal goreng and asam pedas. And have a little chat with Azizah, she might inspire you as much as she inspired us!
Address: Aziema Muslim Stall, 1001 Bukit Merah Central