A. Ghaffoor Martabak

Special thanks to A. Ghaffoor Martabak Original for extending this food review invitation.

A. Ghaffoor Martabak Original is a modest eatery near the crossroads of Jalan Jelutong and Jalan Sungai Pinang. Operating continuously since 1945, this is one of the oldest food businesses in Penang.
The founder emigrated from Persia (modern-day Iran) and used to operate a stall at Lorong Bertam for several decades. Today, the fifth generation - the great-great-grandson - has taken the reins of this family business.

Murtabak Daging (RM4.00) is the signature item here. Contrary to popular belief, murtabak is actually an Arabic dish, not Indian. In Arabic, "mutabbaq" (مطبق‎‎) literally means "folded". Dough needs to be prepared several hours beforehand. After being stretched and folded with beef fillings, murtabak is cooked on a hot griddle surface.
In Malaysia, murtabak is often eaten with pickled onions and chili peppers. However in the Middle East, murtabak is traditionally eaten with mutton curry and soft-boiled eggs. The proprietor is right in his opinion that the authentic version is unfamiliar to locals. Should customers prefer something other than beef, murtabak is also available in chicken (RM4.50) and mutton (RM5.00) versions.
The murtabak recipe in this restaurant is a closely-guarded secret - known only to two living individuals: the current proprietor and his father. To inherit the recipe, the recipient must take an oath of secrecy. This rule also applies to spouses and children. As a teaser, the proprietor reveals that one of the 21 spices used is pepper.
Besides murtabak, the eatery also serves rice and a variety of Malay-style cooked dishes. Malay dishes typically take advantage of pungent local spices to bring out the flavor of meats. Indeed, it is difficult to name a Malay dish which isn't spicy.
Roughly 10 dishes are prepared every day. Despite the fact that certain dishes are being replenished from time to time, it is not uncommon for food to be sold out earlier than expected. The long queue during the lunch hour explains why.
Ayam Merah (RM3.50) is a poultry dish where chicken is cooked in red gravy. The gravy is reasonably creamy due to presence of coconut milk.
Dalcha (RM1.50) is a gravy made from aromatic spices. Included in the stew are eggplants (terung), carrots, potatoes and chili peppers. Quite surprisingly, the Dalcha here is completely vegetarian; no meat stock is used. In fact, the gravy is so delicious that it can be eaten directly without any rice.
Ayam Goreng (RM3.50) is another fast-moving dish. Fried chicken is first given a coating of spice mix, and then immersed in scalding oil until it turns crispy. Besides fried chicken, I also recommend that you try some garing (fried anchovies).
Nasi Tomato (RM3.50) uses long-grain basmati rice and is cooked with tomato sauce and ghee (clarified butter). The rice goes particularly well with Dalcha. Alternatively, go for Nasi Minyak (buttered rice, RM3.50) if you prefer lighter taste.
Daging Goreng Hitam (RM2.00) takes advantage of sweet-savory gravy to enhance the taste of beef. Thanks to excellent marinade, the beef is pleasantly tender to chew.
Ikan Masam Manis (RM4.00) uses tomato-based, sweet-and-sour gravy to flavor fish.
As for Tauhu Kacang (RM2.00), bean curd is served with sweet-spicy peanut sauce quite similar to satay sauce.
Jelatah (RM1.50) is sometimes also known as Kerabu Timun Nenas. This salad is a mixture of cucumber, onion, pineapple and red chili. Sayur Kubis (RM2.00), or fried cabbage, is also available.
Teh Tarik is one of Malaysia's favorite beverages. Hot milk tea is "pulled" between two mugs in order to make the drink frothy.
A. Ghaffoor Martabak Original also operates another stall at Fort Cornwallis Food Court (Padang Kota Lama Food Court) but food is still cooked at this central kitchen. The restaurant also provides catering service for weddings and corporate events.
Name: A. Ghaffoor Martabak Original
Address: 56, Jalan Jelutong, 11600 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 012-496-8937
Business hours: 6:30am-11:00pm, closed on Sundays
Website: https://www.facebook.com/A-Ghaffoor-Martabak-Original-754185211337627
Coordinates: 5.40231 N, 100.32408 E
Directions: From the intersection of Jalan Jelutong and Jalan Sungai Pinang, drive a very short distance north along Jalan Jelutong. A. Ghaffoor Martabak Original is located on the left before the mosque (Masjid Jamek). Parking is available in front of the restaurant.

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