|Alternative names Kueh (Hokkien), Kue (Indonesia)|
Place of origin Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore
Main ingredients Various traditional snacks
Similar Appam, Glutinous rice, Curry puff, Red tortoise cake, Char kway teow
Kuih karas malay traditional food in malaysia
Kuih (also spelled Hokkien and Teochew: kueh or kway; from the Hokkien: 粿 koé, Indonesian: kue) are bite-sized snack or dessert foods commonly found in Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia (where it is called kue), and Thailand (especially Phuket and Phang-nga), the southern China provinces of Fujian and Chaoshan, and in the Netherlands through its colonial link to Indonesia. Kuih is a fairly broad term which may include items that would be called cakes, cookies, dumplings, pudding, biscuits, or pastries in English and are usually made from rice or glutinous rice. The term kueh or kuih is widely used in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore to refer to sweet or savoury desserts.
Kuih are more often steamed than baked, and are thus very different in texture, flavour and appearance from Western cakes or puff pastries. Many kuih are sweet, but some are savoury. It is hard to distinguish between kuih of Malay or Peranakan (also known as "Straits Chinese" people) origin because the histories of these recipes have not been well-documented. Cross-cultural influencing is also very common.
Though called by other names, one is likely to find various similar versions of kuih in neighbouring countries, such as Vietnam, Thailand, and Burma. For example, the colourful steamed kue lapis and the rich kuih bingka ubi are also available in Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Kuihs are not confined to a certain meal but can be eaten throughout the day. They are an integral part of Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean festivities such as Hari Raya and Chinese New Year, which is known as Tahun Baru Cina in Malay among the Peranakan.
In the northern states of Perlis, Kedah, Perak and Kelantan, kuih (kuih-muih in Malay) are usually sweet. In the Southeast Peninsular states of Negeri Sembilan, Melaka and Selangor, savory kuih can be found. This is largely due to the large population of ethnic Chinese and Indians which held much cultural influence in these states.
In almost all Malay and Peranakan kuih, the most common flavouring ingredients are grated coconut (plain or flavoured), coconut cream (thick or thin), pandan (screwpine) leaves and gula melaka (palm sugar, fresh or aged). While those make the flavour of kuih, their base and texture are built on a group of starches: rice flour, glutinous rice flour, glutinous rice and tapioca. Two other common ingredients are tapioca flour and green bean (mung bean) flour (sometimes called "green pea flour" in certain recipes). They play a most important part in giving kuihs their distinctive soft, almost pudding-like, yet firm texture. Wheat flour is rarely used in Southeast Asian cakes and pastries.
For most kuih there is no single "original" or "authentic" recipe. Traditionally, making kuih was the domain of elderly grandmothers, aunts and other women-folk, for whom the only (and best) method for cooking was by "agak-agak" (approximation). They would instinctively take handfuls of ingredients and mix them without any measurements or any need of weighing scales. All is judged by its look and feel, the consistency of the batter and how it feels to the touch. Each family holds its own traditional recipe as well as each region and state.
Nyonya (Peranakan) and Malay kuih should not be distinguished since Peranakans have settled in the Malay Peninsula. They have adapted to Malay culinary and cultural heritage. Therefore, there are many kuih native to Malay culture which have been improvised and retained by the Peranakans.
Nonya kuih come in different shapes, colours, texture and designs. Some examples are filled, coated, wrapped, sliced and layered kuih. Also, as mentioned earlier, most kuih are steamed, with some being boiled or baked. They can also be deep-fried and sometimes even grilled.
Examples of notable kuih-muih include: