Strong appetite for traditional buns

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EVERY morning the wonderful aroma of bread baking in a traditional brick oven wafts out of Kilang Roti Mokhtar in Slim River, Perak.

Owner Mokhtar Amat Mohamad Taqi, 54, is believed to be among the last bakers in the country who still uses a traditional brick oven to bake.

The bread do not undergo any modern style of baking, from kneading the dough until they have been baked in the oven.

Mokhtar, who was born and bred in Slim River, learned the bread-making skill through his father.

“The bakery is our family business, When I was about seven years old I assisted my father in the bakery.

“My father took over the business from my uncle after he died and now I’m continuing the business. I’m the third generation in this family bakery.”

Although her has been in the business for 34 years, Mokhtar said he did not know the history of the traditional brick oven and it was already there when his uncle bought the shop in 1949.

“I did some repairs to it, but it still uses charcoal and wood. I like to keep it this way as the cooking method produces a special aroma.”

Mokhtar, who is running the business together with his wife Nor Hashimah Amir, 50, said making bread was not difficult but acquiring the skills took time.

He added that the baking process takes about 20 minutes to one hour depending on the size of the bread.

Preparation takes a longer time. He starts to knead the dough as early as 6am while firing up the oven.

“We open at 11.30am and will only close after the last pieceof bread is sold. But the breads in my bakery will finish within two hours.

“I have some customers who came from other states and are disappointed that they cannot taste all the types of bread in the bakery as they have been sold.”

He sells seven types of bread and buns: roti kelapa (coconut), roti kaya, roti kacang (nuts), roti bijan (sesame seed), roti krim/pelanta (cream), roti bantal (pillow) and roti biskut.

He said the prices range from 50sen to RM2.50 depending on filling and size, adding that he bakes about 800 bread and buns daily on weekdays and about 1,000 on weekends.

Mokhtar said his bread and buns have no preservatives and can last for two to three days.

Despite his cheap and freshly baked bread and buns, another point that attracts customers to his shop is his ability to converse in Mandarin and Tamil.

Mokhtar, a father of seven children aged between five and 28, hopes at least one of them will take over the business to keep the family legacy going.

Customer Manaharan Gopal, 59, said he has been buying bread from Mokhtar for 40 years.

“The taste of the bread never changed, it’s still tasty, soft and healthy,” he said.

Manaharan said he comes to the bakery at least five times a month and his favourite are roti kelapa and roti kaya.

Another customer Rozarina Mohd Rusli, 41, said visitors can see how the bread are baked, suggesting visitors try the roti bijan and roti krim.

Peter Seng, 73, said he only knew about the shop two years ago and it is now his go-to bakery.

“The bread are fresh and cheap. They don’t harden even though kept for a few days. That’s the specialty of the bread,” he said.

Kilang Roti Mokhtar can be reached at 016- 518 6200 or 05-452 0159.

The bakery closes on Fridays.