It took him sambal, sweat and tears

JOHOR BARU: In a fiery display, a 33-year-old civil servant fought through sambal, sweat and tears to emerge champion in a sambal-eating showdown.

Shaharuddin Abdul Kadir triumphed over 12 other contenders in the spicy challenge, where they were each given two pieces of fried chicken to eat with sambal of varying spiciness levels.

The contestants were required to finish eating each of the sambal dishes before moving on to the next round.

Shaharuddin, from Kulai, said it was his first time coming across such a contest and he decided to enter it just for the fun of it.

“We went through five rounds in the contest and the sambal they served in each round was spicier than the last.

“I usually enjoy eating spicy food but the spiciness of the sambal here was off the charts. I started feeling the heat by the time we got to the third round.

“Despite sweating and tearing up from the spiciness, I powered through and became the first to polish off my sambal in about 40 seconds in the final round,” he said in an interview yesterday.

Shaharuddin added that the contest started with 13 participants but some of them gave up along the way and only five of them remained by the final round.

“Luckily I had a hearty breakfast before joining the contest, otherwise my stomach would have suffered.

“I will drink some milk and have mild food for the next few days after wolfing down so much spicy sambal in one sitting,” he said.

The father of two also took home a pressure cooker and a hamper filled with snacks for finishing in the top spot.

The contest featured escalating levels of spicy sambal in each round, with sambal ijo at a spiciness level of two, sambal tempong (four), sambal gepok (six), sambal geprek (eight), and sambal berapi (10).

Each participant was also given a bottle of water to last them through five rounds of eating.

Preschool assistant teacher C. Selvi, who also made it to the final round, said she did not touch her bottle of water until the end of the contest.

“I heard that drinking water while eating spicy food makes the burning sensation more intense, so I refused to drink it,” she said.

The 45-year-old blazed through the first few rounds where she was among the first to finish her sambal, but slowed down by the end as it was too spicy.

“The first four types of sambal were bearable but the final one – sambal berapi – with a spiciness level of 10, was too hot for me. I could not eat it as quickly as I did in the previous rounds.

“Even though I finished fifth, I still enjoyed the experience as I got to have fun with participants from various walks of life,” added Selvi.

The sambal smackdown challenge was part of the four-day National Unity Week celebration at Angsana Mall Johor Baru which would last until Sunday.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is scheduled to launch the event at 8pm tomorrow.

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