SAMBAL Story by Hana Majid, 48, is not a novel; it is the brand of a food product. It is a traditional sambal tumis ikan bilis but with the added taste of chocolate, mangoes or petai.
They have peculiar names like sambal lahar, sambal gedik with added petai, sambal giur with added mangoes and sambal choclis with added chocolate. The bestseller is sambal choclis.
Hana, a Johorean, is a make-up artiste by profession but, because her job does not have a fixed income, she began to dabble with sambal tumis and took it to another level.
“I named my product ‘Sambal Story by Che Peah’ just to add some spice to the common name,” she said with a laugh.
“Living in Kuala Lumpur is very tough. We have to be brave and try whatever that is ‘halal’ to make money.
“It was my mum’s secret recipe but I changed it by adding chocolates, mangoes and petai into the ordinary sambal tumis ikan bilis and it became a hit among my friends.
“They said it was very tasty and wanted me to make more for them.”
Hana began selling the sambal after it became a hit among members of the acting industry and went viral on social media.
“Customers know about my sambal by word of mouth and Facebook,” she said.
A friend gave her the idea to
package the sambal in aluminium foil packages so it will remain fresh, last longer when kept in the fridge and be easy to carry when travelling.
“There are glass-bottled sambal in the market but glass may break,” she said.
A Sambal Story costs about RM15 for 170gm. It is tightly sealed in an aluminium foil package and you can bring it along on your travels.
So far the sambal has travelled to France, China and England.
“During good times, I can easily sell about 40 packages a day,” Hana said.
“When I have a make-up appointment for TV dramas and weddings, I don't make the sambal. But I do have ready stock in the fridge.”
She uses good quality ikan bilis, which is costly, and dried chillies for the paste.
“It takes five hours to really fry the chilli paste so that it can last long before I add other ingredients,” Hana said.
She added that this was her way of making ends meet in the city of Kuala Lumpur.