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Malaysian hawker under fire for selling claypot chicken rice cooked with rice wine, no halal cert

A Malay-owned claypot chicken rice stall in Malaysia that went viral on social media for its owners’ proficiency in the Cantonese dialect has come under fire from some local diners after Islamic officials declared the stall had been operating without halal certification.

Aman’s Food Stall – located at Restoran Ahmad Muzakin in Sri Petaling, Kuala Lumpur – offered a pork-free version of the dish, which has origins in China and is also popular among Chinese communities in Malaysia and Singapore.

Both Muslims and non-Muslims were served the dish, which was featured on some popular food blogs and received a positive review from online news site Malay Mail.

The food stall faced trouble after a video was circulated online showing the stall owner known as Aman dousing a portion of the dish with rice wine, which contains alcohol that Muslims are prohibited from consuming. The rice wine would make the claypot dish forbidden as well.

In response to “unrest among Muslim patrons” of the stall, the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) said on Saturday that it had never issued the stall’s operator any halal certification.

In a Facebook post, Jakim advised Muslim consumers to be mindful when patronising food premises, and to check its official portal or the Verify Halal app to ascertain whether eateries hold valid halal certification.

The restaurant said on Sept 5 that it would be closed until further notice, with “improvement in progress”.

The issue has raised consternation among many in Malaysia, where Islam is the official religion and practised by around 63 per cent of the population.

Malaysia’s syariah law outlaws the consumption of alcohol, viewed as an intoxicant, among Muslims. A Malaysian Muslim woman caught drinking beer at a beach resort in 2007 was sentenced to six strokes of the cane, although she was later made to perform community service instead.

Before Jakim issued its statement, users of video-sharing platform TikTok had analysed the video of the stall operator’s actions, seeking evidence that Mr Aman had used the shaoxing variety of rice wine with an alcohol content of around 16 per cent.

While it is unlikely Malaysian Muslims will be disciplined for eating at the stall, many have asked for enforcement action to be taken against the stall owner. Some accused the eatery of “confusing its customers”, while others said that consumers should not assume stall operators wearing Muslim head coverings are selling halal food.

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Aman’s Food Stall had drawn steady queues since it moved to its current premises in Sri Petaling just over two months ago, after operating at another coffee shop for around 28 years, according to its owner.

Previous videos featured Mr Aman and his wife speaking to interviewers in Cantonese. They said they honed their claypot culinary skills over charcoal fire and picked up the Chinese dialect over many years from working in Sri Petaling, where it is commonly spoken.

In one video, he said he decided to sell claypot chicken rice because few Malays are selling the dish.

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