Timothy Tye
Maliia Bakery

Benggali Bread, Maliia BakeryMaliia Bakery, Transfer Road, Penang (20 July, 2015)

Maliia Bakery (GPS: 5.42066, 100.33044) is a bakery in George Town specializing in Benggali bread. The company which operates from its premises at the junction of Transfer Road and Ariffin Road. This is one of the biggest bakeries in Penang making Benggali bread, which is distributed directly to roti men all over Penang, as well as to wholesalers and other distributors.

I had the privileged of visiting Maliia Bakery recently, and met up with Mr M (that's short from M. Kumaresan Mariadas, PJK), who inherited the business from his father. When we arrived, I saw that he was drenched in sweat - a daily occurrance - such was work on the bakery floor. We were taken through the bakery factory to see how Benggali bread was made. The factory manufactures thousands of loaves every day. Benggali Bread, Maliia BakeryDifferent types of Benggali Bread with chicken curry (20 July, 2015)

Benggali Bread, Maliia BakeryBenggali Bread fresh off the oven, at Maliia Bakery (20 July, 2015)

Timothy Tye with Mr M at Maliia BakeryTimothy Tye with Mr M at Maliia Bakery (20 July, 2015)

A workday at Maliia Bakery begins in the dead of night, while the city was still asleep. The workers had to start work as early as 2:00 am in the morning, so that they could get the loaves ready for the roti men and the distributors by 4:00 am in the morning. While this may appear to be ungodly early, the time is needed to make sure that loaves reach the customers in time for breakfast.

Manufacturing operations continues for the rest of the day, with tray after tray of dough being fed into the oven. Machineries and automation are used to make sure there is consistency - as far as it is possible.

Benggali Bread, Maliia BakeryBenggali Bread fresh off the oven, at Maliia Bakery (20 July, 2015)

Benggali Bread, Maliia BakeryAll types of buns and breads fresh out of the oven (20 July, 2015)

Of course the signature item at Maliia Bakery is the Benggali Bread. But the factory a whole range of other breads and buns. The Benggali Bread is also available regular, as well as chocolate flavoured. There is now also the charcoal Benggali Bread, made with imported bamboo charcoal which is healthy for consumption.

Until I paid Maliia Bakery a visit, I had always thought that it is just a bakery for Benggali breads and nothing more. To my surprise, it is also a cafe. Customers can take a seat and have a meal there, as I did with Mr M. The cafe sells a set meal with chicken curry to be taken with the Benggali Bread. It is really nice to dunk the Benggali bread into the curry.

Benggali Bread, Maliia BakeryThe Maliia Bakery factory where workers prepare the dough for the Benggali Bread (20 July, 2015)

Benggali Bread, Maliia BakeryThis Maliia Bakery machine forms the dough into equal-size portions (20 July, 2015)

Benggali Bread, Maliia BakeryDough proofing in their moulds before baking (20 July, 2015)

Benggali Bread, Maliia BakeryColoured dough for buns before baking (20 July, 2015)

There is a big misconception that the Benggali bread comes from the Benggalis. According to Mr M, the history of Benggali Bread goes back to 1928, when it was invented in India. An Indian Muslim by the name of S. Mohamed Ismail1, who came from Madras, is said to have founded a bakery in George Town in 1928. The name Benggali (for the bread) is derived from the Tamil word panggali, which means brotherhood.

The Benggali Bread business was established by Tamil bakers from Chennai, not from the Benggalis of Bengal. The South Indians came to Malaya in 1932, and the first Benggali Bread business came about in 1946, when it was known as Malaya Bakery. In 1964, the paggali business became that of a family, and was known as Ismalia Bakery. That was when the present modern-style building of Maliia Bakery was completed.

Benggali Bread, Maliia BakeryFresh buns ready for distribution to the roti man (20 July, 2015)

The Benggali Bread business changed hands once again in 2007, coming into the ownership of Mr M's family. While it looks all fine and dandy to run a business with a surefire base of customers, Mr M said that profit from the business is paper thin, as their product caters to the lower income group who would not be able to afford should they inflate the profit margin. As it has always been, Maliia Bakery runs as a family business and every abled grown up in the family is involved.

Making Benggali Bread is a big business nowadays. The company has to use vans and trunks to distribute its breads, usually to wholesalers and other distributors. The itinerant roti men also comes to the factory every morning to purchase their supplies, at wholesaler price.

Benggali Bread, Maliia BakeryA roti man coming to Maliia Bakery to get his supplies (20 July, 2015)

Benggali Bread, Maliia BakeryOpen-sided Maliia Bakery van is stocked to sell bread directly to customers (20 July, 2015)

Benggali Bread, Maliia BakeryA Maliia Bakery bread truck (20 July, 2015)

Benggali Bread, Maliia BakeryHawker prepares van with Benggali bread (20 July, 2015)

360° View of Benggali Bread, Maliia Bakery on Google Maps Street View


Maliia Bakery (M) Sdn Bhd
114 Transfer Road
10050 George Town, Penang
Phone: +60-4-227 1106
Email: [email protected]
Facebook: www.facebook.com/maliia.bakery
Website: www.maliiabakery.com

Maliia Bakery is on the map of Transfer Road


1. The Star: The bread of Bengal - no it's not (31 August, 2016, National Day supplement, page 10)

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