A ‘SEMPURNA’ SNACK FOR MALAYSIANS
Buntong’s Kg Kacang Putih started out in 1940s and has since become a legacy
BEFORE branded potato chips and other snacks filled the shelves of supermarkets, Malaysians enjoyed munching on “kacang putih” as their favourite snack.
“Kacang putih” is an assortment of fried peanuts, salted tapioca chips or spicy curry murukku. The origin of the snack is from India and its recipe handed down through the generations.
But not many people know how Kampung Kacang Putih in Buntong here came about.
It began in the 1940s with a group of “kacang putih” sellers and their families who were squatters at the foot of the Gunung Cheroh limestone hill here.
However, on Oct 19, 1973, the massive limestone cliff face of Gunung Cheroh collapsed and crushed 42 people.
Because of the tragedy, the state government declared the area off limits and relocated the residents to a new area here.
Hence, the birth of Kampung Kacang Putih. In 1974, the remaining 30 families from Gunung Cheroh settled into their new homes in the village.
Years later, their business had prospered due to the increasing demand for “kacang putih”. Today, there are more than 40 families in the village involved in the “kacang putih” business.
Murukku, pakoda, poori, pakoda Sri Lanka, omapodi, kadalai and tapioca chips are only a few of more than 50 types of “kacang putih” that can be found in the village.
The third generation of Sempurna kacang putih manufacturer J. Bubaneswary, 27, said the business started when her grandfather, Chinnasamy Nadar, came from India to then Malaya.
“My grandfather brought his wife and three sons to start a new life here by selling ‘kacang putih’.
“However, my grandfather, grandmother and my father’s brother decided to return to India, leaving my father and another brother here. Dad made ‘kacang putih’ at a very young age.”
The second of six siblings said her father, C. Jayabalan, 67, sold “kacang putih” at SRJK (C) Poi Lam’s school canteen.
“After many years of selling ‘kacang putih’ outside the school compound, the headmaster allowed my father to sell it inside the canteen. He used to earn 20 to 30 sen per day when he was selling outside the school but after moving into the canteen, he made RM20 to RM30 per day.”
Bubaneswary said the company was named “Sempurna” (perfect) as her father believed the word was meaningful to Malaysians, who formed a multiracial, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society.
“Ninety per cent of my father’s customers are Malays. Sempurna is perfect for all.
“Everyone enjoys ‘kacang putih’ and my father told me that his business has made the races sit together and share the snack.
“This is something beautiful in Malaysia that my father discovered. People here live in harmony,” said Bubanewasry, who handles the financial and administrative matters of the company.
C. Jayabalan (centre) and his children, J. Bubaneswary (left) and J. Shasikumar, at their shop in Buntong, Ipoh, yesterday.