Dipping into the world of ‘cacah ambuyat’

Rokiah Mahmud

It was a major decision to let go of life with a steady income and venture into an unpredictable business. For Nurhalifah binti Mohammad, this decision led her to run an enterprise she inherited from her family, selling a local favourite – cacah ambuyat.

Nurhalifah started her venture into the business world back in 2002 with strong support from her husband, Shahrin bin Haji Rosli. They had initial doubts in running the business, but with her family as the backbone for her strength, she pursued her dream.

Naming the business Perusahaan Al-Watieq, Nurhalifah and her husband started to sell various types of cacah ambuyat (dipping sauce for ambuyat) with different variations of flavour, type and size.

The variations include Cacah Ambuyat Tempoyak Binjai, Cacah Ambuyat Tempoyak Membangan, Cacah Ambuyat Tempoyak Pidada, Sambal Belacan, Sambal Tempoyak and blended chilies (lada kisar).

When they started their business, not many people were selling cacah ambuyat. “Today we can see many types and variations of cacah ambuyat ranging from traditional taste to modern ones,” said Nurhalifah.

File photo of ‘ambuyat’. PHOTO: HJ MOHD NOOR AFIQ HJ MOHD NOOR

“For me, one needs to have knowledge in blending the items and ingredients to make cacah ambuyat. Everything must be balanced and cannot be overpowering. The flavours also need to complement each other to produce the right taste whenever you dip ambuyat into it.

“The taste must be on point: Meaning not too salty, sour or spicy. If the taste is not balanced, it will be bland,” she said. “If we mix the ingredients wrongly, we can’t bring the authentic or traditional taste of cacah ambuyat.”

“This could affect our customers’ trust and they might not purchase the cacah ambuyat from us anymore,” she added.

Nurhalifah affirmed that she regards cacah ambuyat as a serious matter “as I am doing business not only to make profit, but it allows me to control the quality and quantity of the cacah ambuyat as well as other condiments that we are selling.”

She shared that her parents used to sell cacah ambuyat at local retail stores, but as she wanted to expand, they started to sell to broader and wider markets such as department stores nationwide.

“We wanted our products to reach our customers at their convenience,” she explained.

About the challenges, she said, “As years went by and many were selling cacah ambuyat, we started to find obstacles. However, due to the positive response from customers, we felt we were back on our feet again. The comments from our customers make us believe that our product is one of the best with nice packaging and at an affordable price. Anyone can make cacah ambuyat based on their own recipe, but the taste may be different from one product to another. We put 100 per cent of our commitment into the business.

“Like any other business, we cannot escape challenges especially during this current situation of COVID-19. We also promote our business via social media and word of mouth.”

She said they also feel the impact but keep positive. “What makes us happy is when our products are sold out, especially at retail shops and department stores. There are even customers who purchase direct from our house.”

“We need to learn from our experiences, do not give up easily. We also need to learn from mistakes so that we can be more successful in the near future,” she added.