Ditching Career To Popularise ‘Kuih Karas’ In Kelantan

hen Nusratina Shaari quit her secure job here about four years ago to return to Kelantan to look after her ailing mother, little did she anticipate her filial love would serve as a catalyst for her entrepreneurial journey.

At that time, the idea of starting her own business had not even crossed her mind but, in less than a year, life’s unpredictable twists transformed Nusratina from a devoted caregiver to a determined business owner.

Nusratina, who is 35 and still single, makes and sells kuih karas – a traditional Malay delicacy popular in Kedah and her late mother’s favourite snack – bearing the brand name Kuih Karas Warisan PCB.

Her decision to venture into this business is a story in itself. She told Bernama it all started in May 2020 when she decided to resign from her job as a report analyser with a private firm here and return to Kampung Semut Api, Pantai Cahaya Bulan in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, where her parents lived.

“My mother was unwell then – she had diabetes, hypertension as well as kidney and lung disease, so I wanted to help take care of her. It so happened the MCO (Movement Control Order) was in force then which made it difficult for me to commute from KL to Kelantan to visit my mother (so quitting my job made it easier for me to stay with my parents),” she said.

She said her mother enjoyed eating kuih karas – a crispy and crunchy fried snack with a caramelised sugar flavour – but the movement controls made it hard for them to buy the delicacy from any local vendor.  

Nusratina, who has a bachelor’s degree in Parks and Amenity Management from Universiti Teknologi MARA Shah Alam, said her father Shaari Awang, 67, then decided to learn to make kuih karas so that her mother could get to eat her favourite treat.

Lending her father a helping hand and through trial and error over a one-month period, both of them managed to prepare kuih karas to perfection, much to her mother’s delight.



Sadly, her mother passed away in September 2020. Nusratina, however, chose to stay with her father even though she received a few job offers.

“I also decided to make my own kuih karas (which she promoted on Facebook). At that time, I was not serious about starting a business… I just made it for fun,” she said, adding she only became serious about it in November 2020 after she started receiving orders for her kuih karas.

Today, she has no regrets about giving up her career. Her small business is doing well and she produces an average of 300 bottles of kuih karas a month, with the amount doubling during the festive season. Touching on her income, she said she makes enough to support herself including financing her post-graduate studies.    

“In the early days, I used to worry (about my future). But now I’m grateful I resigned from my job as it paved the way for me to venture into business as well as continue my studies,” she said.

Nusratina is currently pursuing her PhD in business management at Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) and hopes to complete it in July 2026.

Elaborating on her kuih karas, Nusratina said it is slightly different from those available elsewhere in terms of its shape and taste. Her kuih karas is square-shaped and comes in three flavours – original, salted egg and super ring (cheese) – and she is currently in the process of creating new flavours.

She also packs the kuih in bottles of different sizes to suit her customers’ budgets. Just recently, she introduced RM5 packs that are ideal for gifting purposes.   



Sharing her recipe for kuih karas, Nusratina, who spends five to six hours a day in her kitchen making the treat, said she uses the usual ingredients, namely rice flour, corn flour, sugar, salt and water.

The ingredients are mixed until the mixture attains a certain consistency. This, according to Nusratina, is the complicated part as “we have to ensure the mixture achieves the right texture – neither too liquid nor too thick”.

Next comes the process of pouring the batter through a special sieve-like mould (in this case, the mould is crafted from a coconut shell with holes in it) into a wok full of hot oil.

“This requires a lot of patience. To make each piece, we have to fold it while it is still being fried in the hot oil,” she said, adding one kilogramme of rice flour can yield up to 90 pieces of kuih karas, the whole process taking her about one hour and 45 minutes.  

Pleased with how her business is developing, Nusratina hopes to expand her market. Her product is currently available online and via dropshipping agents as well as at the UMK lobby, Sultan Ismail Petra Airport in Kota Bharu and Kota Bharu Sentral.   

“I hope to get halal certification as I want my kuih karas to be made available in all supermarkets in Malaysia. I also hope to be the biggest producer and supplier of this product in Kelantan,” said the ambitious entrepreneur.

She also reckoned that one of the challenges she would face in expanding her business would be the difficulty in finding workers “who have a passion for this type of work”.

“Not many people are willing to stand in front of a hot kuali all day. This limitation may hinder my expansion plans,” she said.

Nonetheless, she is happy she is doing her bit to introduce the traditional Malay snack to the Kelantan community, especially the younger generation.

“It’s my aim to get the younger generation to become familiar with kuih karas… I make this treat in different flavours to attract their interest,” said Nusratina, who also shows how the delicacy is made through live demonstrations on TikTok and Facebook.

Asked if she plans to continue running her business even after receiving her PhD, she replied: “My journey in life brought me into the world of business. Currently, I don’t fall into the category of really successful entrepreneurs but I will continue to strive to attain my dreams and enjoy a better life.”

She said people must have the courage to make changes to their lives, adding, “There is no reason to be ashamed if you possess high academic qualifications but have a modest career. Our life journeys differ, and the challenges are also unique, so strive according to your capabilities.”


Translated by Rema Nambiar





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