Popia carbonara a specialty at Kota Sentosa Ramadan bazaar this year

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Apart from ‘popia carbonara’, Suhaina’s stall at the Kota Sentosa Ramadan bazaar also offers other varieties of spring rolls.

KUCHING (March 23): Food innovation has always been a prevailing trend at many Ramadan bazaars and this time around, at the Kota Sentosa Ramadan bazaar here, the ‘popia carbonara’ has garnered a particular interest.

The seller Suhaina Tenimo, 48, said she decided to list it on her menu after seeing such an encouraging response from her customers.

“We started with the regular spring rolls, which we sold at the Ramadan bazaar last year and they received highly positive responses from the shoppers.

“We then explored a variety of innovative ideas to make it our signature offering – that’s how our ‘popia carbonara’ came about.

“It was actually during the Covid-19 pandemic that my family and I sat down together to think of items that would suit the taste buds of the majority of people, and could be eaten without much hassle,” said the full-time food entrepreneur from Kampung Sri Arjuna in Padawan, near here.

It was, indeed, a simple innovation with a successful outcome.

The ‘popia carbonara’, in essence, is a regular deep-fried spring roll with a filling of finely cut vegetables and meat, inspired by the Teochew-style ‘popiah’.

Suhaina’s twist is the special spicy carbonara dipping sauce.

At her stall, her ‘popia carbonara’ comes with options of vegetable, beef, chicken or lamb filling, and each roll is priced at RM1.

“We’ve been selling the usual Muslim food at Ramadan bazaars for many years, but our ‘popia carbonara’ really gives us better returns and I’m grateful for the encouraging response from the customers.”

For this Ramadan, Suhaina said at least 2,000 rolls of ‘popia carbonara’ would be prepared daily, and distributed between her stalls in Kuching and Kota Samarahan.

Meanwhile, her stall operator Aiman Firdaus said theirs was the only one at the Kota Sentosa Ramadan bazaar selling ‘popia carbonara’.

“Not only is our spring roll special, even our cheese sauce is special too,” said the 21-year-old.

Aiman attends to customers at Suhaina’s stall.