The British have their scones and clotted cream; the French, dainty pastries. Malaysians, on the other hand, have kuih – colourful desserts and snacks that come in all shapes, sizes and flavours.
Usually served over tea or breakfast, they can be prepared in a variety of ways, be it steamed, baked or fried.
In Part 1 of our kuih series, we listed five must-try Malaysian kuih. Here are five more that should be on any food lover's list:
Chinese in origin, the angku made its way to Malaysia thanks to the Chinese diaspora that migrated here over the centuries. Its name literally translates to ‘red tortoise’, although the angku can also be found in colours such as green and yellow. It’s chewy exterior of glutinous rice flour encloses different fillings such as mungbean, ground peanuts or red bean paste. Red is considered auspicious, and the tortoise is a symbol of longevity – making this kuih a popular offering at religious and cultural festivals.
The hole in its centre makes the kuih keria the Malaysian version of the doughnut. Also called kuih gelang due to its resemblance to a bracelet, the dough is made from a mixture of mashed sweet potato and flour, which is then rolled and deep fried. The final touches involve a dusting over with sugar or a glaze. The kuih makes a great afternoon snack to go along with tea.
Steamed in small tea cups, the kuih lompang has a bowl-like appearance with an indent in the centre, which is then topped with fresh grated coconut. It also goes by the names of kuih kosui and kuih aswi. Sweet, with a springy texture, the most common variants are the green-coloured pandan flavour and the dark brown gula melaka flavour. The kuih is served in both Peranakan and Malay communities.
‘Apam’ generally refers to a light and fluffy kuih, made from ingredients such as wheat flour or rice flour. There are several variations, including the pancake-like apam balik and the crispy Indian-style apam manis. The basic apam looks like a muffin, with a spongy, foam-like texture that is airy and porous. The Chinese call it huat kuih and it is often used as a ritual offering. In the east coast states of Peninsula Malaysia, there is a type called apam berkuah, which is dipped in a gravy of fish, coconut milk, sugar, spices and black pepper.
Light and spongy, the kuih bahulu is an eggy cake with a crusty outer shell. A perennial favourite in both the Muslim and Chinese communities during key festivals, the kuih is baked in cast iron or brass moulds in various shapes, the most common being flowers or fish. The slightly dry texture makes it a great accompaniment to coffee or Chinese tea.