Nasi kandar is ours, say Penangites


  • Nation
  • Friday, 25 Sep 2009

GEORGE TOWN: Nasi kandar and pasembur are definitely not Singapore’s — the Penang Indian-Muslim community is laying claim to it.

However, they also expressed disappointment that these two types of food were not included in the list of 100 types of heritage food and drinks in the National Heritage website (www.warisan.gov.my).

Restoran Kapitan chairman Abdul Wahab Mohamad Hanifah said nasi kandar is “definitely a Malaysian original” and should be promoted as such because their ancestors from India first dreamed it up in Penang in the 1900s.

“They worked at the nearby port and would concoct different curries with whatever ingredients they had.

“Nowhere else can you find nasi kandar that comes close to the Penang version because the water here is special — it is sweet.

“Even when my cooks bring all the ingredients to Kuala Lumpur and prepare the food there, the taste is slightly different,” he said, adding that the dish should be promoted as a “Malaysian original”.

Pelita Nasi Kandar chain director K.K. Sihabutheen said nasi kandar should be the number one item in any “original Malaysian food list”.

“Not only was the nasi kandar created here, but Penang nasi kandar is the most popular around.”

Since the 1930s, nasi kandar has played a prominent role in the culinary history of Penang.

Its origins date back to the days of yore when Indian-Muslim immigrants roamed the port and dusty streets of colonial Penang, carrying containers laden with home-cooked dishes and rice slung on both ends of a kandar (a wooden stick).

Most people also believe that pasembur, or Indian rojak, as it is known in some states, is another Malaysian original first served by the Indian-Muslim community here.

Gani Famous Pasembur owner Jamil Kader Gani, whose family had been making this dish for three generations, “guaranteed” that pasembur was born in the state.

“Nowhere else in the world will you find such variety and the gravy is also special because most pasembur sellers make their own gravy according to their family recipes.

“Pasembur arrived here around the same time as nasi kandar and should be promoted as wholly Malaysias,” he said.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen’s recent statement that nasi lemak, laksa, bak kut teh, chilli crab and Hainanese chicken rice were Malaysian dishes has sparked off a “food fight” on the Internet, with some unhappy Singaporeans insisting that chilli crabs, Hainanese chicken rice, nasi lemak and bak kut teh were theirs.

List of Malaysian heritage food items:

Nasi Lemak Nasi Ayam Nasi Kunyit (Pulut Kuning) Nasi Tumpang Nasi Kerabu Nasi Dagang Nasi Himpit Nasi Goreng Kampung Nasi Ulam Ketupat Lemang Pulut Kukus Periuk Kera Mee Mamak Laksa Mee Kari Char Kuay Teow Pulau Pinang Laksa Johor Mee Siam Bubur Pedas Sarawak Bubur As-Sura Bubur Sum-Sum Bubur Kacang Hijau Sagu Gula Melaka Kuih Bingka Ubi Rendang Serunding Ayam Percik Manok Pansoh Masak Asam Pedas Gulai Tempoyak Ikan Patin Ikan Bakar Ikan Panggang Tanah Liat Gulai Lemak Umbut Gulai Asam Rom Kari Kepala Ikan Kurma Daging/Ayam Pajeri Masak Ikan dan Pisang Dalam Buluh Yong Tau Foo Daging Dendeng Ayam Panggang Botok-Botok Ikan Sambal Tumis Chili Crab Teh Tarik Cendol Air Batu Campur (ABC) Air Kelapa Air Selasih Hinava/Umai Pekasam Tempoyak Otak-Otak Sambal Belacan Cencaluk Sambal Gesek Ikan Bilis Sate @ Satay Yee Sang Sata Telur Pindang Kerabu Mangga Muda Acar Kuih Keria Kuih Koci Akok Kuih Seri Muka Kuih Cara Kuih Bingka Kuih Bakul Kuih Bulan Kuih Cincin Kuih Bakar Kuih Sepit Apam Balik Pisang Goreng Keropok Opok-Opok Karipap Buah Melaka @ Ondeh-Ondeh Lempeng Bahulu Dodol Lempuk Durian Wajik Seri Kaya Halwa Agar-Agar Pulut Panggang Tapai Masalodeh Putu Mayam Murukku Roti Jala Roti Canai Tosai Penderam Kuih Lopis Laddu Ubi Kayu

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