KOTA BHARU: Who would have thought Ketupat Bachok, a fried version of ketupat palas (a traditional delicacy made from glutinous rice packed inside a diamond-shaped pouch made from fan palm leaves) would travel as far as the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Egypt?
With almost 20 years of experience in making and packing the ketupat under her belt, Salmiah Ismail, 43, has received orders not only during the festive season, but from individuals as souvenirs for their children living abroad.

“Just yesterday, a couple placed special orders for their children living in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Egypt,” she said, adding that the fried version could last for two weeks there.
“Usually the ‘ketupat daun palas’ are boiled or steamed but we fry the ketupat which is now in high demand. More than 5,000 pieces were ordered during the Aidilfitri and almost 3,000 for the recent Aidiladha celebrations,” she said when met by Bernama in Kampung Sri Kulim Melor, here yesterday.

Ketupat palas maker Salmiah Ismail showing the traditional delicacy made from glutinous rice packed inside diamond-shaped pouches at Kampung Sri Kulim Melor. Photo: Bernama

Salmiah’s job has been made easier, thanks to her husband, Mohd Faris Ab Rahman, 47, who is in charge of ‘mixing’ the already steamed glutinous rice with coconut milk and sugar.
Salmiah said mixing the glutinous rice requires a great deal of energy and steaming it must be done twice or more, for about an hour each time.
After the glutinous rice mixture are cooled and filled in the daun palas casings, they are deep fried for five to 10 minutes.

Salmiah first dabbled in the business by taking up ‘wrapping the ketupat’ jobs from her mother-in-law, Mariam Jaafar, 64, known as ‘Mok Jah’ in Kampung Kubang Golok, Bachok since two decades ago.
“This fried ketupat is also called ‘Ketupat Bachok’. I used to help my late mom, Zabidah Ismail prepare ketupat when I was a teenager, while my mother-in-law is good at making ketupat pulut. After I moved to Melor, I decided to do them on my own.

“My mother-in-law also received large orders in Bachok — 14,000 pieces during the last Aidilfitri where she provided the filling and hired workers to wrap them in Bachok,” she said.
Salmiah explained that that there are two types, ‘the male ketupat’ and the female ketupat’ of ketupat daun palas.

“Our specialty is to wrap the female version which looks neat unlike the male version which is easily available in the market,” she said.
She also exclaimed that the difference between hers and those sold in the market is that her ketupat are softer and delicious because they are fried, larger in size, not easily stale, can be frozen and have to be pre-ordered.

“The preparation is meticulous, for example you have to rinse the glutinous rice numerous times until the water is clear, steam it for a long time and only fresh coconut milk is used.
“The price is relatively low between RM1 and RM1.30 per piece to be enjoyed with serunding (chicken/beef floss)or nuts while the flavours can be bland or creamy. It is usually sold for RM1.60 per piece elsewhere,” she said. – Bernama