Not your typical ketupat: Meet Saiful Bahari and his ‘ketupat roket’ family business

The rocket-shaped ketupat sold by Saiful Bahari.

By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, May 24: It is common during festivals or big events to see the ketupat, a diamond-shaped casing made from coconut or palm leaves used to cook and hold the glutinous rice cake usually served with savoury dishes like beef or chicken curry or rendang, or sometimes just peanut sauce.

For food operator and businessman Saiful Bahari, his family took making the ketupat casing to another level by weaving it to resemble a rocket ship.


According to the 47-year-old, it was his Melanau grandmother who passed down her knowledge of how to weave the casing, which he has been doing for the past 20 years.

“The shape does attract many people. I am glad we have made it (the ketupat) into a lucrative business.

“We call it ‘ketupat roket’, but customers also call it ‘ketupat apollo’ or ‘ketupat ikan’. This legacy is something that our family now cherishes, and it has been part of our catering business,” he said to DayakDaily.

Hailing from Petra Jaya, Saiful said that the way they prepared and cooked the ketupat was the same as any normal ketupat, but he also believed in being creative in selling food with innovative ideas.

He said there must be a need to know what customers want, and sometimes, the food should look as good as it tastes.

“Everybody in my family, including my two children, can weave the casing and cook the rice cake,” he said.

Saiful Bahari showing his ‘ketupat roket’.

Saifuk said they often use fresh palm or coconut leaves from their local supplier, and once they had made and cooked the savoury rice, the ketupat would be sold or stored to ensure they could meet daily demand.

He added that to ensure there is enough supply, they store their ketupat in the freezer.

“This way, customers could order from us at any time, and all they need to do is steam it or put it in a microwave to consume it,” he said.

Saiful said to enhance his business, he continuously gets advice from relevant food authorities, as well as culinary and food handling training, to ensure the quality of his food.

“At the moment, I am looking for more capital to expand my business and learn how to produce lemang,” he said.

For more information on his ‘ketupat roket’ or his savoury cake rice, call 011-2160 8144. — DayakDaily