Martabak: The Viral ‘Charcoal Pancake’ From Penang, Malaysia
Image Credit: Prezly Cookbook

If you thought the Michelin tags were only for fancy restaurants that have been making their mark on the culinary scene globally, think again. Because this little street cart outside of the Cathay Food Court in Malaysia is sure to put those perceptions to rest. BM Cathay Pancake – a stall selling the traditional delicacy known as martabak – a crispy-chewy pancake stuffed with sugar and crushed peanuts, has been doing so since the year 1962. A Michelin Bib Gourmand, which essentially means that the stall has been offering up comfort food of top quality, BM Cathay serves up these dense-looking treats to patrons and tourists alike.

The martabak – their offering of choice – is a thick stuffed pancake-like delicacy, which is often sandwiched with fillings like chocolate, peanuts, cheese, vegetables or minced meat, is a popular street food in countries like Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Yemen. Cut into squares for easy accessibility, the martabak is usually served with a savoury or sweet dipping sauce or a variety of condiments. Most popular variations of this pancake include potatoes, beaten eggs, onions and red meat.

Also Read: 

The Origin Of Roti Canai, The Malaysian Flatbread

The word martabak – which means to fold, in Arabic – is also popular in a sweet counterpart, that uses a yeast-based batter which is thick enough to spread across the walled pan, and cooked over coals – from where it derives the name ‘charcoal pancake.’ As the outer walls of the dough begin to crisp up, layers of sugar are added in the centre and allowed to melt before a blanket of crushed roasted peanuts and sprinkled on top and folded. The melted sugar gives the martabak a caramel-like flavour, enhanced by the nuttiness of the peanuts, making this a sought-after delicacy.