Captivatingly colourful, scrumptiously soft, sweet and sometimes savoury, Nonya Kuehs as they are known in Singapore, are a range of Southeast Asian snacks that showcase the fusion of diverse influences in this region.
The cakes are made using local ingredients such as coconut, rice, tapioca, and gula melaka (Malaccan sugar in Malay) and the methods include steaming, baking, deep frying, pan frying, slow cooking, and boiling.
There is the Kueh Lapis (“kueh” means rice cake or 粿 in Chinese and “lapis” means layer in Malay) which is famed for its nine distinctive colours. Kueh Lapis is a sweet steamed cake rich with coconut flavours. Its colourful layers are progressively coloured to simulate the rainbow.
Ang Ku Kueh (“ang ku” means red tortoise in Chinese dialect) is a small oval-shaped pastry with a soft sticky glutinous rice flour skin encasing various types of sweet filling in the centre. It is shaped like a tortoise shell and is displayed on a square piece of banana leaf. The most common fillings are sweet bean paste and peanuts, but you can now find unique flavours such as black sesame and yam.
Ondeh Ondeh (“onde” means sphere in Indonesian) is made from sweet potato or glutinous rice flour. These green balls are infused with pandan juice, filled with gula melaka, and rolled in freshly grated coconut. When you take a bite, the gula melaka in the middle bursts into your mouth!
Kueh Dadar (“dadar” means omelette in Indonesian) is a coconut crepe filled with a pandan, coconut and palm sugar filling which is sticky and sweet.
And Kueh Salat (also known as “kueh seri muka” or pretty face in Malay) is a two-tiered kueh with steamed glutinous rice on the bottom and a thick layer of coconut milk custard on top.
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