Siti Raya and her kuih bangkit stock awaiting customers Foto Bernama

Siti Raya's Kuih Bangkit Reminds Of Hari Raya

By Kurniawati Kamarudin

BATU PAHAT (Bernama) -- As Muslims count down towards the end of the fasting month, Hari Raya cookies in all shapes and sizes, and what more in modern names like Queen Choc, Puteri Salju and Nutty Butter Cookies, flood the market.

Though there is a myriad of festive cookies available in the market, the traditional cookies like the samperit, pineapple tarts, kuih bangkit and the sugi biscuit (semolina biscuits) remain as the favourites.

This is why a cookie entrepreneur Siti Raya Bachok, 53, decided to stick to the kuih bangkit and its variants.

IN DEMAND

The home business she set up not far from Rengit town, here, 20 years ago has thrived as demand for traditional cookies remain high.

Her kuih bangkit with authentic taste are highly sought after by wholesalers around the country especially before Aidilfitri.

She operates the business from the porch of her house and so far this year she has sold some 20,000 jars of kuih bangkit to wholesalers, and the sales figures keep increasing by the year.

Customers can also come by the shop to watch how she and her 10 staff make the cookies.

"I'm only focusing on kuih bangkit and so far demand for the traditional cookie kept increasing. I have loyal customers who come each year for their supply of kuih bangkit," she said.

When asked about competition from modern Raya cookies, Siti appeared unfazed as she believed people still appreciate the traditional cookies as a treat for their guests. The testament to this fact is the overwhelming orders she receives during the festive season.

"We produce kuih bangkit all year round, but orders for Hari Raya increases by four folds compared with the rest of the year.

"We begin baking our customers' order even before the fasting month," said the woman who is also assisted by her husband Md Haleh Ledek.

Jars of kuih bangkit are kept in the store until wholesalers come by to collect them.

SUCCESS STORY

Born into a Bugis family, Siti Raya whose mother originates from Jambi, Indonesia was brought back to Rengit at the age of 17 by her father who is a local. Siti Raya married her husband a year later.

The difficulties she faced in raising her six children motivated her to find ways to supplement her income to help with the family's expenses.

"My husband does odd jobs in the village. I was working in a factory at the time so we were barely getting by, so I thought of baking cookies to help the family.

"At the beginning I had to take two months leave to get the orders done," she said recalling her earlier days in the business.

After obtaining a recipe for bangkit using coconut milk from her neighbour she tested the recipe several times before she was confident enough to sell the product.

The measurements used in the original recipe depended on the number of coconuts used, which made it difficult to achieve reproductions of the same quality as the coconut milk amount from each coconut varied, she said.

This required Siti Raya to change the measurements to make her work easier while still maintaining the true taste of the cookie.

Her initial sales reached 100 jars, which she sold to neighbours and people around Rengit. Since then orders have been increasing from year to year.

One day about 10 years ago, a customer from Negeri Sembilan stated interest in buying the cookies in large quantities and this led to other wholesalers and traders seeking supplies from her as well.

"More and more traders came to buy and resell my cookies, and I kept my price low and made profit based on volume," she said.

THE SECRET

Her husband Md Haleh manages the supply of ingredients such as coconut milk and tapioca flour while Siti Raya handles the production.

To maintain the quality of the product, they only use coconut milk obtained from coconuts grown locally.

The tapioca flour is fried to make sure the cookie rises to its proper shape when it is baked and has a texture that melts in the mouth, said Siti Raya who added that her cookies could last for a year.

Though there are machines to mix the dough, the kneading process is best done by hand.

Other variants of her bangkit include the bangkit kerisik, bangkit gula merah (palm sugar), bangkit pandan, bangkit kacang hijau (mung beans) and cheese bangkit, all steadily gaining popularity among the public.

"We are slowly introducing new variants of the bangkit so people have a choice. We all have different preferences," she said.

She said since the cheese bangkit debuted two years ago and it had won the hearts of many and quickly became the best-seller.

"Our cookies are popular and our customers come from as far as Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Selangor," she adding that she was hopeful that the cookies would reach a wider market in the future.

-- BERNAMA