Within the row of shophouses beside Simpang Renggam main street, there is a Cendol stall popular with local residents —— Gerai Cendol Sathar. Under the blue canopy, stall owner Ahmad bin Sathar is busy making bowls of snowy fine shaved ice with the ice-shaving machine, topped with fresh green Cendol, brownish Gula Melaka sauce and rich Santan sauce. Among the colourful condiments are maroon candied red beans, pink Sago, golden corn in evaporated milk, as well as the option to add on glutinous rice according to personal preference. All ingredients are made in-house, prepared fresh daily, widely praised by customers and attracts people from near and far.
Sathar Cendol stall operates in the same spot since its establishment, never since relocated. The stall is set up between two shophouses, coincidentally an alley lies behind, therefore simple tables and chairs are placed in the vicinity for customers to be seated while waiting, as well as enjoying the exquisite sweet Cendol. Local residents and neighbouring shop owners achieve a tacit understanding not to drive or park their cars into the alley. A special sentiment flows through this alley, the rustic shaved ice containing fond memories of local residents who enjoy the delicacy since young.
Cendol is a type of jelly made from a mixture of extracted Pandan leaf juice and rice flour, naturally green in colour, originating from Java, Indonesia in the form of a beverage. Cendol has a mellow Pandan taste and a smooth texture, combined with shaved ice, Gula Melaka sauce and Santan sauce for a fresh and cool mouthfeel. In Malaysia’s perpetual summer, it is nice to be able to enjoy a bowl of icy Cendol anytime. Not only is Cendol popular throughout Malaysia, there are also a variety of condiments and eating methods, such as adding in peanuts, cashew nuts, attap fruit, jackfruit, ice-cream, or even durian.
Under the blazing sun, the heavily perspirating Ahmad bin Sathar is currently the fourth generation successor of this family business with over 60 years of history. Ahmad’s great-grandfather migrated to Penang from India during the olden days to seek employment, and learnt the trade from a Javanese. Back then he carried the equipment and condiments on a shoulder pole, selling door-to-door in the villages of Penang to Prai. Afterwards, Ahmad’s grandfather succeeded this trade and went selling Cendol in Teluk Intan, Perak. As he passed away, the third generation successor Sathar, who is Ahmad’s father, shifted southwards to settle down at Simpang Renggam in 1956, establishing his stall with the family trade by selling Cendol on a tricycle.
To make a living in a foreign place is not easy, however generations of Sathar’s family survived and provided for their family with the craft of making Cendol. Sathar perseveres in his only familiar skill, refusing to be underestimated due to being self-employed. Apart from raising ten children, he even managed to open his own Mamak store (Restoran Usaha Berkat). Reminiscing being questioned by government authorities whether he could afford the monthly loan repayment of RM2500, Sathar merely smiled, notwithstanding his bitter struggles where nobody bears witness to. As Sathar’s sons (Ahmad and his brother) succeeded his business, they retained the original stall name out of respect to their father.
The essence of grass-root spirit is tenacity and independence, like a blade of grass, rooted firmly and standing tall even though weather-beaten. Just like Sathar’s family, undeterred by difficulties, working hard to make a living by selling bowls of delicious Cendol.
Text: Daniel Lim & Pua Hui Wen
有你 UNI Production
Producer : Mok Yii Chek
Coordinator : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang
Video Editor : Amelia Lim
Production Assistant : Michael Lerk
Music : Twinkle In The Night
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