Here's Why Ramadan Bazaar Vendors Are Selling Tepung Pelita Inside Plastic Containers

Some argue that the use of banana leaves is what gives the dessert its special charm and traditional appeal.

Cover image via @ainnadhirah (Carousell) & @RiduanAdullah (X)

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If you've recently strolled through a Ramadan bazaar, you might have noticed something different about our beloved traditional Malay dessert, kuih tepung pelita

Before we delve into the changes that this dessert has seen in modern times, let's first appreciate the key components that make kuih tepung pelita a unique and beloved treat.

Kuih tepung pelita is known for its dual-layered structure. The upper layer, soft and white, is crafted from coconut milk, lending a rich and creamy texture. Contrastingly, the bottom layer comprises sugar syrup infused with the essence of pandan leaves, offering a sweet and aromatic base.

But there's one more key ingredient that is not a part of the consumable layers — the banana leaves that help wrap the dessert together.

Not only do the leaves impart a fragrant aroma and taste, but they also play a crucial role in securely encasing the dessert, adding to its visual appeal and traditional charm.

Image via foodpanda

However, many Ramadan bazaar vendors have opted to package kuih tepung pelita in plastic containers and cups, moving away from the traditional method of wrapping it in banana leaves

This change led one X user, @RiduanAdullah, to express their disapproval of the modern packaging method.

"They're no longer using leaves, just a green plastic cup. Do I have to give this back to the seller tomorrow?" he asked.

At the time of writing, the post has garnered over 4,200 reposts and 980,000 views, with netizens sharing their observations on how vendors in their respective areas are packaging their kuih tepung pelita in the comments section.

One user commented that the sellers in their area have also transitioned to using such containers, but have maintained the inclusion of banana leaves in their packaging.

Image via X

Another user, @puteriarchy, shared that a popular kuih tepung pelita seller, Tepung Pelita Paya Jaras, has also shifted to using plastic containers but expressed that the taste is still good.

The usage of plastic material has also sparked questions from netizens who are uncertain about the safety of this practice

"Without knowing, we traded environment for health," wrote one user.

Image via X

"The Health Ministry (MOH) cares more about staples than microplastics that could cause cancer. What is this s--t?" commented another.

Image via X

Meanwhile, one user noted that the dessert may now be more expensive due to the additional cost of the plastic containers.

Image via X

But if you're curious about why vendors are suddenly abandoning the traditional method of wrapping the kuih, here's the answer:

In the past, the banana leaf around the kuih tepung pelita is usually held together with a staple.

But in 2022, MOH advised food vendors against using nails, wire staples, or similar materials to wrap food, citing the risk of serious injuries if these items are accidentally ingested by consumers.

Former health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah highlighted that vendors using such materials in food packaging could face legal repercussions, including fines of up to RM10,000 or imprisonment for up to two years, or both, reported Sinar Harian.

"The public, especially parents, are advised to check the food given to their children before consumption," he said during a press conference on Tuesday, 4 January 2022.

He also reminded food providers and vendors that there are various safer methods for food packaging.

As a result, many kuih tepung pelita vendors have shifted to using plastic containers, although the safety of this material has not yet been discussed by MOH.

Regarding the additional cost of using plastic containers, you can purchase 40 pieces of the same green cups vendors are using at Healthy Baker Malaysia for RM13.90, or approximately RM0.35 each.

The price isn't far off from banana leaves, which go for approximately RM1.99 for 150g. Therefore, the price of kuih tepung pelita should not change much despite the shift in packaging materials.

Meanwhile, most Ramadan bazaar vendors have had to increase the prices of their food by around RM1 to RM2:

A dietician recently shared that 'kurma butter' is a good food choice for those seeking a simple and calorie-dense meal for sahur:

Last year, a Ramadan bazaar vendor went viral for selling murtabak for RM20:

Check out our list of special Ramadan discounts to ease your iftar plans:

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