Sweet switch of careers

Labour of love: Farrah has been making nian gao since 2018. She now has her own shop and staff.

PETALING JAYA: Growing up, Nur Farrah Dira Azhar would go to her neighbour’s house often to get her hands on their nian gao (kuih bakul).

It was her all-time favourite food.

Eventually, she decided to make it based on her neighbour’s recipe.

By 2018, Farrah started her own business selling nian gao and love letters.

Her family was initially against her decision to quit her job as a state government officer. But an uncle, who is a businessman, was supportive.

“He taught me how to start a business, from managing finances to managing the business,” said the 32-year-old mother of one.

Her family saw her progress and started to lend her support.

“I was so excited when I saw my business start to grow. From being a home-based baker, I now have my own shop and staff,” said Farrah, a Chinese whose mother is a Muslim convert.

She has since stopped selling love letters due to a lack of manpower, focusing instead on nian gao and mooncakes now.

Since last year, Farrah has been selling nian gao every day.

“But I limit the quantity to 100 a day,” she told mStar.

The process of preparing the traditional glutinous rice cake takes about 18 hours, given the complexity of the baking process.

“I use traditional materials and methods such as banana leaves as the wrapper to ensure quality and to maintain the aroma of the nian gao.

“It takes seven days for the nian gao to dry, and only then can they be delivered to our customers throughout the country,” said the eldest of five siblings.

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