TANAH MERAH: It all started by providing job opportunities to the asnaf (those eligible for tithe) from Kampung Bukit Gading here, and now Zarina Mohd Nawawi has been racing against time to meet the demand for the frozen 'ketupat palas' (glutinous rice wrapped triangular shape using the fan palm leaves).

The 49-year-old Dapur Ramadan Founder said that the frozen ketupat palas made by the asnaf group focuses on orders outside Kelantan, with 90 per cent of it shipped to Kuala Lumpur, Johor and Pahang.

Fondly known as Kak Na, she said that she started the business to do charity and provide job opportunities to the asnaf group, but it all changed when it received an encouraging response from the public as Aidilfitri drew closer.

"All the workers are women from the asnaf group, aged 30 to 60. We have opened the orders since February, and we make about 4,000 to 5,000 pieces of ketupat palas a day.

"However, during Ramadan month, the demand is higher and we produce 10,000 pieces per day. Since 2018, we have produced almost two million frozen ketupat palas," she told Bernama.

Zarina said that from the early days, she focused on marketing the products outside the home market, to allow other communities outside Kelantan to enjoy the traditional festive food from the state.

Asked about the speciality of the Dapur Ramadan frozen ketupat palas, Zarina said it was a recipe shared by one of her employees, which was later enhanced so that the food was tastier and of better quality.

After making bountiful profit yearly, Zarina has set up the Qardhul Hassan Loan Scheme (interest-free) for the asnaf working at Dapur Ramadan by enabling them to obtain loans to buy necessities, such as washing machines and refrigerators.

"Through this scheme, for those who wish to purchase a product, I will go and buy it first. Then, I will collect RM10 from their daily salary until it is fully paid. The employees here are paid daily, based on their speed and efficiency," she said.

"I pay 17 sen per ketupat palas, and one can earn up to RM150 a day," she said.