Ministry Of Rojak By Abdhus Salam Rojak
We had Penang food for lunch that afternoon and looking around, I was amused by a signboard “Ministry of Rojak”. I had thought the shop to be selling music CDs (somehow the name brought to mind, Ministry of Sound) or different types of salad since rojak, to me, means “chap pa lang” (a bit of everything) and this being a food alley near the MRT. It was only when Valerie asked, “Do you want some Indian Rojak, mom?” did I realise OMG I haven’t had them since my last post on it from Siraj at Albert Complex Food Centre and that was in September 2013! “Yes, please.”
I could barely remember but the first time I ate Indian Rojak, it was probably in my pre-teens at Rasa Singapura Food Centre, now defunct. It was located in Tanglin Road at Tudor Court, near The Regent, Singapore and had a signboard that said “Waterloo Street” or something like that.
Rojak (Malaysian and Singaporean spelling) or Rujak (Indonesian spelling) is a traditional fruit and vegetable salad dish commonly found in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. The term “Rojak” is Malay for mixture. – Wikipedia
There are several types of rojak (salad). There’s the Chinese rojak, Malay rojak, Indian rojak and then there’s the standard rojak of fruits & vegetables, the youtiao & taupok rojak and just fruits only rojak and the list may go on. I am not a big fan of Chinese rojak with the pungent prawn paste known as “Haeko” and when I do eat them usually off a friend’s plate, it’s the pineapples, youtiao and century eggs that I go for. When it comes to ethnic “salads” I am most interested in the Indonesian Gado Gado and Indian Rojak!
Indian Rojak is also known as Mamak Rojak in Singapore, or Pasembur in Malaysia (popular in Penang). While the items on offer may have a slight variation, the key difference between the two countries’ offering is the presentation. Pasembur has shredded cucumber and radish piled on top of the chosen ingredients and then drowned with the gooey sauce while Singapore’s Indian Rojak are served with thickly cut cucumbers, green chillies and raw onions, and with the sweet potato peanut sauce in a separate bowl for dipping.
After you’re done choosing, you pass your plate to the vendor who will reheat/deep-fry the items and serve them with some sliced cucumbers, green chillies and onions together with a side dip of savoury sweet sauce, not spicy and has crushed peanuts in it.
With Siraj, I mentioned that I found the sweet potato sauce to be a little on the sugary side. The viscosity of the gravy was too thin for my taste. I felt the sauce could be slightly richer. I am not a food critic nor connoisseur and perhaps with Siraj’s, that is the traditional recipe that is being adhered to and I am pouting modern taste but MoR has scored on their nutty sweet potato dip and seemed more palatable to me. The fried ingredients may be slightly compromised through no fault of MoR since we did not eat them there and then but had brought the fare back home and only open up the package to “shoot” (these photos) and eat after rocking little TJ to sleep. Even then, I am satisfied! During our makan, I was telling Valerie it is very big leap of faith taking Indian Street Cuisine to a new level by paying exorbitant rental in a shopping mall with quite limited seating capacity.
I usually write my food posts without browsing the net first so as not to be unconsciously swayed by other foodies’ taste experiences. After I’m done with my draft do I check what others (if any) have penned as I am particularly keen on the facts and not opinions about that business. As I surfed the internet to see if there’s more information about this gungho vendor, I came across this crowd funding article:
“Today, I am turning my dream into reality. As a young boy, I witnessed firsthand my parents’ tireless efforts to make a living for our family. Now is my time to give back. I left my job as an assistant engineer at a semiconductor company to take over my father’s rojak business. Despite naysayers saying that I would be wasting my Honours Degree, I knew it was the right thing to do; I was more cut out to run my own business.
At Ayer Rajah Food Centre, where my father runs Abdhus Salam Rojak, days begin as early as 3am. 7 hours of preparation goes into the ingredients before the stall opens at 11am, only to close at 11pm.
My turning point came when my father started experiencing chest pains, and I knew it was time for him to retire. I couldn’t just stand by and let him work such long hours when he was unwell, so I made the decision to step into this full time. My dad worked so hard to build the Indian Rojak Empire that exists today, and I do not want it to be a wasted effort. His efforts to be the best, has won the shop several awards and achievements. Some of the awards include:-
1. City Excellence Hawker Award (King of Kings – Indian Rojak) by City Gas
2. Where the Queue Starts 4 (Mediacorp Channel 8)
3. Best Food Awards 2013/14 by Green Book
1. Handpicked by the Prime Minister’s Office to represent Indian Rojak as one of Singapore’s Iconic Foods
2. Participant in Singapore Day Events in London, Sydney and Shanghai, representing Indian Rojak
3. Participant at the World Street Food Congress 2015
All the skills and secrets that he has passed down to me will amount to nothing, unless I make use of them; and I want to expand on the journey he began. Publicly recognised as a young hawker-preneur, I have been featured in newspapers and magazines, and on TV.
I am in midst of expanding this business to the heartlands, at White Sands Pasir Ris Shopping Centre. With time, I want to increase the number of outlets across Singapore. The new outlets will be named Ministry of Rojak by Abdhus Salam Rojak. Once established, I plan to penetrate the overseas market as well.
Why am I making this move? My vision is to preserve Singapore’s food heritage. I don’t want Indian rojak to be something of Singapore’s past, I want it to be something that younger Singaporeans can also connect with. Opening an outlet at a mall would create a comfortable environment for people of all ages to enjoy Indian rojak.” – Mr. Abdhus (http://www.cfasia.org/en/CrowdfundingAsiaFestivalBOLD2015/pitcher/Ministryofrojak/)
I am always intrigued by young entrepreneurs who dream big. They remind me of my son-in-law, Ryan, a go-getter! I sincerely wish the young Mr. Abdhus all the best in his business ventures!
Ministry of Rojak by Abdhus Salam Rojak
Address: White Sands Shopping Centre.
1 Pasir Ris Central Street 3,
Opening hours: Daily
11am – 10pm
Happy eating and bonding 🙂
See more localised Indian food:
Indian Street Food – Siraj