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Penang Nasi Kandar

When the Indian Muslims arrived in Pulau Pinang a long time ago, they also brought along the gastronomic delight that is now prevalently known as the ‘nasi kandar’.

Nasi KandarThis rice dish, which is eaten with various curried meats and fish as well as special condiments, has developed into a signature cuisine for Pulau Pinang and would always come to mind whenever this ‘pearl island’ is mentioned.

A visit to Georgetown would not feel right without a stopover at any of the nasi kandar joints in this city to sample this out of the world pleasure.

At Restoran Kassim Mustafa here, nasi kandar connoisseurs could testify that the food served at this joint is really tantalising and invigorating to the taste buds.

Inherited Recipe

According to 43-year-old Saleem Manshor, the reason behind why his customers find the nasi kandar fare offered at the restaurant as being so scrumptious and tasty is due to the recipe that has been passed down over the past 18 years.

The various spices and chili are blended using the ‘giling’ (traditional way of blending spices using a baton-shaped rolling pin made from stone), said Saleem who is the restaurant owner.

Saleem said his cooks would never add any of the artificial flavours and the monosodium glutamate (msg).

He also said the cooks never used the ‘chili boh’ (blended chili) sold at the grocery shops.

“Right from the very beginning, all the spices used to cook the various dishes are hand-rolled by the two cooks and the rolling pin used is already more than 20 years old”, he told Bernama here.

Rolling Pin

Saleem said the rolling pin has been in use since the days when his uncle Kassim Mustafa, 72, migrated to Pulau Pinang from India and sold nasi kandar at a stall here.

“This restaurant was named after him as he started the business. The nasi kandar is from our own recipe”, he said.

Among the ingredients used by Saleem’s cooks are dried chili, kunyit (turmeric), jintan putih (cumin) and jintan manis (fennel). They would also add in extra onions to boost the aroma and flavour.

Saleem, who owns nine Restoran Kassim Mustafa statewide, said the eatery’s approach is to ‘roll’ all of the spices used for the dishes.

“That what makes us different from the other nasi kandar shops”, he said.

Saleem also claimed that many of the other nasi kandar restaurants used curry powder from popular brands but if not well mixed, the gravy of the food would congeal and thicken at the surface while being in the cooking pot.

Secret Recipe

Famous Malaysia Food, Nasi Kandar“Only the cooks know what are the ingredients and we will never reveal them to others”, he said when asked about the ingredients of the shop’s nasi kandar.

However he said one of the reasons that made nasi kandar in Pulau Pinang could be the water used to wash the rice and cook the ingredients.

“It could be the water supplied on the island”, he said.

Saleem said he used to receive an order from a national leader for a nasi kandar feast in Putrajaya.

To maintain the nasi kandar’s taste, Saleem said he brought along 30 drums of water from Pulau Pinang to cook the meal for the leader’s guests.

“I am not sure what is so special about the Pulau Pinang water but there are those who said that nasi kandar sold elsewhere is not as tasty as that cooked on the island. Hence it could be the water supplied on the island”, he said.

Art Of Mixing The Gravy

Saleem said the method of mixing the various gravies is crucial towards offering a really tasty nasi kandar meal.

He said the art of mixing the gravies with the rice is unique and only could be done by the restaurant’s hands.

“If too much of each gravy is added, it could alter the taste. That is why nasi kandar at Restoran Kassim Mustafa is well known among the food connoisseurs”, he said.

Saleem said he had received many offers to franchise the restaurant abroad. “We have not decided on anything. Our restaurants are growing well here.”

Source: Bernama (ERMA IDAYU MOHD YUSOP)

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