The annual Lantern Festival (15th day of 8th month in Chinese lunar calendar) not only provides sustenance to the Chinese people in preparing and selling mooncakes but it is also a source of income for Malay entrepreneur Nur Farrah Diba Azhar, 33.
This is because enterprising Malays who sell various types of biscuits and traditional sweets and desserts also receive a windfall when their mooncake products are not only the choice of the Chinese community but also Indians and Malays.
Nur Farrah Diba’s ability to produce mooncakes according to the original recipe of the Chinese community is no longer a secret to regular customers; in fact, she often receives orders directly from Muslims as it is halal.
Fondly known as Farrah, she said she bakes mooncakes throughout the year because of constant orders, but during the Mid-Autumn Festival, more flavours of the product are released to meet the discerning taste of customers.
“If you ask about the recipe or where I learned to make it, well I started getting seriously involved in this business in 2016 after studying for over a year with my maternal grandfather the late Atuk Teh Naik Ming, who died in 2015.
“During the last years of his life, my grandfather, who was indeed from China, taught me meticulously on how to make mooncakes steeped in the Chinese tradition. I finally succeeded in learning it, not only using traditional Chinese recipes but also in a halal way,” she told Bernama recently.
Farrah said mooncakes are indeed synonymous with traditional Chinese desserts and are now common among people of various races, including the Malays, who also enjoy them without qualms because they are made with halal ingredients.
She often gets orders from the Chinese community to be presented as gifts to their Malay friends.
“Throughout the year, I produce mooncakes with various fillings including walnut, pandan, red bean paste, lotus seed paste, red velvet, salted eggs and many more, but most orders in September are lotus seed and salted egg yolk.
“They (the Chinese community) these days not only buy to eat it but also as a treat for friends or neighbours of different races. That’s why they choose halal; after all, the mooncakes I sell are priced from RM5 to RM12,” she said.
Farrah said she is currently assisted by four workers to produce mooncakes at her shop in Bandar Perda here, with sales made online through Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.
She is glad to make halal mooncakes because it gives Muslims the opportunity to enjoy the delicacy without apprehension and her company also produces various types of mooncake fillings for other mooncake entrepreneurs.
“During the Lantern Festival last year, the company received orders of about 8,000 mooncakes and was able to generate profitable revenue. This year sales are a little slow but I am increasing my marketing through social media every day,” she said.
Farrah’s business also receives staunch support from her husband and four younger siblings and although they have their own careers, when her kitchen receives many orders for mooncakes, someone in the family would pitch in to help out.
“Honestly, my younger siblings do not have the (full) expertise to make mooncakes yet because they did not study the art from our grandfather. But I am determined to one day pass on this knowledge and recipe to them so the baking tradition can be continued and most importantly, it is halal,” she said.
In fact, Farrah also aspires to have her own factory to produce mooncakes and various types of cakes and pastries within the next five years.
Source: BERNAMA News Agency