The traditional mobile bread (roti) seller on a trishaw in Penang.
Locally known as the Roti Benggali seller, Roti Bengali or the Benggali bread had its origin from Sheik Mohd Ismail, an Indian Muslim from Madras, who set up Roti Penggali (which meant bread shareholders in Tamil) with his friends back in 1920s. However, the word “penggali” was apparently mispronounced and later on, evolved into “benggali”. The name was stuck locally as such ever since. The loaf bread of white and soft crumb with thick crispy golden crust is a popular local choice here.
This steel sculpture can be found on a wall of a shophouse along King Street, part of the Little India area in George Town. The caricature depicts a local ‘Roti Benggali’ (or Benggali Bread) seller and what it means by the word ‘Benggali’. The freshly baked and rather big loaf Benggali bread is popular among the locals here, usually sold from a small makeshift stall on a motorcycle. It was said that the bread derived its name from the word ‘Penggali’, which basically means ‘shareholders’ in Tamil. The bread business was started by an Indian Muslim together with his group of friends (a co-op business) back in the 1930s. Local residents later mistook the name to be ‘Roti Benggali’ and the bread has been called as such ever since.