Celebrating the Colours of Malaysia in Every Bite
Step into any Pasar Malam and you’ll be moments away from a 10-feet-long stall serving a lengthy tray of colourful delicacies fashioned into geometrical patterns that would intrigue any 3-year-old.
A sweet-tooth haven that triggers impulsive finger pointing gestures to signal the taukeh to deposit the colourful goodies into a transparent plastic bag before a tying a swift knot with a pink string. These goodies are of course called Kuih-Muih, a product of the cultural diversity in Malaysia.
This post is dedicated to kuih lovers and curious visitors from overseas.
Warning: This post may induce uncontrollable craving for the desserts.
Red, white, red, white, repeat – somehow, it’ll remind you of the Malaysian flag. The kuih lapis is our version of ‘mille crepe’ which curious eaters have once tried peeling layer by layer for consumption, somehow tricking their brain to think both colours taste differently – technically they’re made of coconut milk, flour and sugar alike.
Chunky block of pandan stirred together with tapioca starch and alkaline water to give it a chewy texture. Topped with a complimentary thin layer of rice and coconut for a sudden jolt of saltiness.
The rare sight of an edible blueish grub makes this kuih a memorable one. The secret is in the blue pea flower ingredient molded together into a marble-like texture. Treat it as a chewy bread as you spread a big slab of kaya before digging in into a sensation of pure delight.
Cute fluffy pillows tucked inside angular baskets, jingle as you carefully lift them up. So, slowly you use your thumb, index and middle finger to gently squeeze the cube out of its cozy leafy shell and into your mouth as you taste the thick coconut layer before it reveals a hidden emerald sheet of sugary pandan. Mmmm…
“I call this telur ikan,” remarked a friend. Indeed, its ruby red tapioca pearls do paint such imagery. However once feasted on, you’ll experience a less explosive texture but rather a nice structure of gumminess followed by a quick rush of sugar to the brain.
Magnificent pyramids with ancient secrets hidden within. It’s a sticky job getting in as you vigilantly peel away the glossy banana leaf. There lie the glutinous rice walls waiting to be wrenched by your teeth. So you dig deep to uncover the treasure of grated coconut sweetened with palm sugar – a formula passed down through generations.