Thursday, April 16, 2009

Addicted to kuih

One of primary reasons for my rapidly expanding belt size during my short stay in Malaysia is kuih (or kueh if you prefer). Kuih are Malaysian cakes, generally steamed, mostly coming out of the Nyonya culinary tradition, fusing Chinese and Malay cooking styles. They are almost always made of some starch such as sticky rice or rice flour, and the flavours that dominate are pandan (screwpine, which gives the green colour), coconut milk, grated coconut, and palm sugar.

In the interest of greater cultural understanding (and nothing to do with greediness) , I ate a massive amount of kuih. I had several favourites:

* The kuih cendol, which emulates the famous Malaysian drink with layers of coconut milk, palm sugar and green wormy things. Wonderful.
* Kuih keria, a miniature glazed donut with sweet potato filling. To be honest the flavour wasn't that amazing, I just find it interesting in concept.
* and two varieties based on an exquisite filling of palm sugar liquid and chewy grated coconut; ketayap (or kuih dadar), in which the filling is rolled in a delicate rice flour crepe; and onde-onde, which resembles the mochi of Japan, a dumpling coated with grated coconut, and with filling that explodes into your mouth when you bite into it. I could eat these by the dozen without a second thought.

Above (clockwise from top): ketayap, sago and coconut kuih, kochi, kuih keria, ondeh ondeh, kuih lapis
Above: kuih cendol

Above (clockwise from top): jin dui, kuih talam, getuk getuk, red bean talam

Above (clockwise from top): purple yam sri muka, unknown (palm sugar flavoured), ketayap, kuih lapis, palm sugar sri muka.

Above (clockwise from top): tapioca kuih, kuih talam, Portuguese egg custard tart, and unknown.

Above: puttu buluh; a small version of puttu, which is a steamed cake of rice flour and grated coconut. These are filled with palm sugar. A little dry for my liking.

Above: ang ku kuih (glutinous rice flour kuih with filling); this one was stuffed with a sweet mung bean paste

Above: apam balik; its a variation on the appam or hopper from Sri Lanka and South India. Made with flour, yeast, sugar and coconut milk, it resembles a folded crumpet, filled with sugar and crushed peanuts. This one had sweetcorn kernels as well which was strange but passable.

In Indonesia we have an almost identical dish called martabak manis or martabak terang bulan.

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