Saturday, 22 April 2017

Asian Equivalent to Western's Gooey Desserts - Malay Kuih

There is a type of Asian dessert which is very little known to people in the West, only because most of the recipes are not available in English. For that matter, many people in Asia too are deprived of such knowledge only due to the language barriers because the most authentic recipes are written in their language of origin which is Malay or Indonesian.

This was brought to light when my American and Australian friends are often amazed at the quality of these desserts which might have been enjoyed by a whole lot of people if they knew they exist. The Malay kuihs are easily available in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia but outside these countries, you can't get them at the shops or elsewhere because nobody is selling these traditional desserts. Thailand has their own version of this dessert which is quite similar to Malay kuihs.

If you have travelled to these countries, you would probably have fallen in love with gooey desserts like Kuih Ondeh-ondeh, or Kuih Koci, that sweet and rich chewy dessert wrapped in banana leaf and loaded with grated coconut cooked in palm sugar. Often they are found at the wet markets, back streets and little push-trolleys where they are displayed side by side in a riot of colours and varieties.

Traditional Malay kuihs are little known gems which you can learn to make quite easily and impress your friends and family. Because the ingredients are different from western ones, the result can be a refreshing change from your chocolate cakes, cheesecakes or puddings.

Malay kuihs are mostly steamed and made from tapioca, yam, beans, glutinuous rice, that are now available as flours. Where the western desserts use granulated or castor sugar, palm sugars are regularly used in Malay kuihs, giving it the colour and deep rich sweetness. Grated coconut or coconut milk is alternately used to give the richness equivalent to butter or cheese.

And while the taste is totally different from western cakes and such, the Malay kuihs are equally delicious if not more, to some people. It is such a pity these recipes are still not known to many Westerners otherwise they would be quick to try and impress their friends and neighbours.

Many of my Western friends have taken the translated recipes and make these kuihs at home. Many Asian supermarkets have stocked up on these basic ingredients. The good news is, some of the ingredients like coconut milk can be swapped with fullcream milk or cream, due to non availability or due to the need for less calories.

The kuihs are not only available as sweets but as savoury as well. These savouries use same basic ingredients without the sugars but using spices added on to minced meat or grated coconut and steamed. These are great for serving guests during high teas or as potluck.

Well if you are in this part of the world, make sure you look out for these Malay kuihs and don't leave without trying them out.

If you love chewy, rich food which is loaded with coconut and brown coloured sweetness, you will love to sink your teeth into these kuihs. If you are bored with cakes and puddings, then get to know these traditional Malay kuihs. And be amongst the first in your neighbourhood to learn to make them! They are totally decadent.

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