Hit­ting The Sweet Spot

You’ve seen colour­ful kuih every­where, but do you know what they are?

Expatriate Lifestyle - - Contents - Words by Karin Chan Photo by Bryan Ong

There’s never a bad time to have a piece of kuih (or two, or three). you can have kuih at any time from break­fast to sup­per, find them every­where from hawker stalls to sil­ver buf­fet trays, and eat them while sip­ping kopi o (black cof­fee, no milk) or teh tarik (pulled tea). They come savoury and sweet, steamed and fried, filled and plain; there are so many types that there’s bound to be a kuih for ev­ery­one. Al­ter­na­tive spellings for the Malay word kuih in­clude kue (In­done­sia) and kueh in the Hokkien di­alect, most of­ten used in Sin­ga­pore. It’s also syn­ony­mous with the Chi­nese char­ac­ter糕 ( gao). So many vari­a­tions for a word that ba­si­cally means ‘cake’; over the years, how­ever, kuih has grown to en­com­pass most types of desserts in­clud­ing cook­ies, dumplings, bis­cuits, pas­tries and more. Ev­ery cul­ture in Malaysia has some type of dessert that falls un­der the kuih cat­e­gory, and the in­ter­min­gling of tra­di­tions some­times means that the ori­gins of a par­tic­u­lar type of kuih gets quite murky as peo­ple adopt and adapt tra­di­tional recipes. One thing’s for sure; as long as ev­ery­one’s happy to share the de­li­cious­ness, then we won’t chi kui (lose out in Man­darin).

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