Malaysia is a country known as the melting pot of cultures. Therefore, it is no wonder that we are always on holiday most of the year. Festivals are the best excuse to miss school and work, am I right or am I right?
Anyways, of all the festivals that we Malaysians have, Christmas is the most magical of them all. You got to admit, the colours, the food…mmm, definitely something magical there.
It’s a Malaysian Christmas!
As I’ve stated earlier, Christmas is all about magic and miracles. The reason why it is so is because of all the colourful, mouthwatering food associated with it!
Thus, to make it a magical Malaysian Christmas, let’s switch the pies, puddings and eggnog with some of our very own delicious and colourful traditional Malaysian kuehs.
Try the recipes below to taste the magic!
1. Kueh Talam
Kueh Talam is basically a two-layered dessert that is chewy in texture with a complex flavour of both salty and sweet.
The best thing about this dessert is you can make it into any flavour but of course, the classic would still be the pandan one.
A) Bottom layer
- 360g rice flour
- 60g green pea flour
- 600ml water
B) Top Layer
- 600ml coconut milk
- 80g rice flour
- 40g corn flour
- 300ml water
- 2 1/2 teaspoon of salt
C) Pandan Juice
- 12 screwpine leaves
- 960ml of water
- 2 teaspoons of alkaline water
- 500g sugar
1. Put all ingredients for bottom layer together, mix and strain into a saucepan. Cook with low fire until thick. Pour into a 44cm steaming tray and steam with high heat for 40 minutes until cooked.
2. Mix all ingredients for top layer together and strain. Cook until thick.
3. When the bottom layer is cooked, slowly pour in the top layer and steam for 25 minutes until cooked.
4. Remove from oven and let it cool.
Lompang or kueh kosui is, you can say, a gooey Malaysian cupcake. Why I say so? Well, it’s because the kueh is made by using tiny teacups as moulds. To make it even cuter, a tiny crate is made on the surface of the kueh in order to cradle fresh shavings of salted coconut. Yum!
- 3 cups of rice flour
- 2 tablespoons of tapioca flour
- 2 teaspoons of alkaline water
- 1 1/2 cups of sugar
- 4 cups of water
- 16 pandan leaves, cut into little pieces
- 1 cup of fresh grated coconut
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
1. Cut the screwpine leaves into small pieces. Blend leaves with 1 cup of water. Strain. In another bowl, pour sugar into 1 1/2 cups of hot water. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add pandan liquid into the syrup. Add in the alkaline water.
2. Combine rice flour and tapioca flour. Pour flour into the pandan syrup. Combine well. Strain to ensure there are no lumps
3. Heat up steamer. Brush mini tea cups with a little bit of oil and put it into steamer for a while. Pour batter into each individual cups. Steam for 15 mins over medium high heat. Remove from fire and set aside to cool.
4. Add salt to grated coconut. Steam dessicated coconut briefly.
5. Once cooled, remove kueh from the cups using the back of a spoon. Serve with dessicated coconut on top.
3. Kueh Lapis
If you asked me which among the many local kuehs that are the most beautiful, my answer would be the kueh lapis.
Kueh lapis or multi-layered steamed cake is made using a combination of rice-tapioca flour and each layer is usually coloured differently in order to create a rainbow effect. But, if you feel kind of lazy, you can just stick to ol’ pink and white kueh lapis.
- 175g of tapioca flour
- 50g of rice flour
- 250ml of water
- 100g of castor sugar
- 3 screwpine leaves
- 250ml thick coconut milk
- A pinch of salt
- Rose pink colouring
- In a pot boil water, put in the sugar and screwpine leaves together till sugar dissolved. Turn off heat, discard the leaves and add in coconut milk. Stir well and leave aside to cool.
- Mix the tapioca and rice flour together. Gradually, blend well the flours into the coconut milk with a hand whisk. Then, strain the mixture with a sieve to ensure it is free of lumps.
- Divide the mixture in two equal portions and add the colouring into one portion, while keeping one portion white.
- Grease a 7 inch square or a cake pan and place it in the steamer for a few minutes over high heat.
- Pour about 55ml of white liquid into the heated pan and steam at high heat for about 4 minutes or until batter is cooked. Then add 55ml of pink liquid onto it and steam for another 4 minutes.
- Repeat the procedure, alternating white and pink liquid until all the batter is used up. Remember to stir the batter every time before pouring the liquid into steam each time.
- Add a little more rose pink colour to the last layer to make it a deeper shade of pink.
- Leave the Kuih Lapis to cool completely after steamed and invert the cake pan to take out the kuih.
- Grease a knife with a little bit of oil before cutting. You may also brush a little oil on the surface to give a glossy finish.
Ondeh-ondeh is a traditional Malaysian treat suitable for dessert, tea time or breaking fast. It’s always green and covered with a layer of freshly grated coconut and filled with a sweet explosion of liquid coconut sugar. They’re irresistible and addictive, and it’s difficult to stop with just one.
The chewy outer layer of this kuih is not unlike the Japanese mochi. Made with a combination of glutinous rice flour and rice flour, this yummy sweet treat is also gluten-free and vegan. If you swap store-bought pandan extract for one you make your own, it’s possible to make this a clean-eating delicacy. Delicious without the guilt? We’re in!
Get the delicious recipe here!
Angku or tortoise shell kueh is a Chinese delicacy popular in both Malaysia and Singapore. Usually made into an orange-coloured oval kueh, the angku is typically served as offerings after prayers in temples. Made with glutinous rice flour and green bean filling, angku is perfect to eat with a cup of steaming hot teh’o, kopi’o or hot cocoa.
A) Angku skin
- 350g sweet potatoes, cut into medium-sized chunks
- 230g glutinous rice flour
- 2 1/2 tablespoons of rice flour
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- 3 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 50ml water
B) Mung bean filling
- 300g mung beans/green beans, wash and soak overnight in cold water
- 180g sugar
- 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
C) Angku Kueh Prep
- Some banana leaves – cut into round shape
- A bit of oil for brushing
A) Angku skin
- Steam sweet potatoes till soft, takes about 20 minutes.
- Use a potato masher or a fork, mashed the cooked sweet potatoes, add in glutinous rice flour, rice flour, sugar, and oil, slowly add in water bit by bit to form a soft dough, cover and set it aside and rest for 30mins.
- Shape into 30g small ball (depend on the size of your mould)
B) Mung bean filling
- Drain dry the mung beans, place the beans on a steaming tray and steam over medium heat until soft. It should take about half an hour.
- While beans still hot, place beans, sugar and oil in a food processor, process till fine and become a paste.
- Shape into 10-12g balls (depend on the size of your mould) and set it aside.
C) To make the angku kueh
- Grease the angku kueh mould by brushing on some vegetable oil.
- Flatten the sweet potato ball, place a mung bean ball to the center and shape it into a round ball
- Place the ball in the mould, press evenly, then knock to relased the dough and place on greased banana leaf.
- Arrange on a steaming tray and steam for 10 minutes over high flame. Take it out from the steamer and brush it lightly with some oil.
6. Kueh Sago
When I was a child, kueh sago is one my favourite kueh to have. Be it breakfast, lunch or dinner, I couldn’t say no to just a taste of the sweet, soft sago. In addition, the vibrant red colour is enough to entice anyone, young and old to eat it, especially during parties and celebrations.
- 200g sago
- 4 pandan leaves
- 100g sugar
- 2 teaspoons of rose colouring
- 800ml of water
- banana leaves
- coconut (desiccated or grated)
- Boil water and once it begins boiling, add pandan leaves, sago, sugar or rose paste extract until sago is almost fully cooked/translucent.
- Place boiled sago into a mould lined with banana leaf. Steam for at least 20 minutes or until translucent.
- Set aside and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 40 minutes. Use saran wrap to cover the mould to prevent the surface of sago from hardening.
- Remove sago from the mould and cut into the bite-sized pieces. Coat sago pieces with shredded coconut that had been mixed with a pinch of salt.
Another kid’s favourite would be the Apam. Apam is like a fluffy cupcake that is so airy and delicious to eat. The best thing about apam is it can be made using any colouring and flavouring but of course, the original is always the best!
- 360g of brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 500g wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 300ml of soda water
- Colouring (optional)
- Prepare the mould for the apam by lining it with paper cupcake cups. Heat up the steamer on high heat until steam is formed.
- Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Mix for about 10 minutes til batter becomes fluffy
- If you are using colouring, divide the batter to two parts. Put colouring in one while the other left it as it is.
- Pour in the batter alternately between the coloured and the non-coloured one to the lined moulds. If you aren’t using any colouring, just pour in the batter as it is. Fill in 3/4 of the cup so your batter won’t overflow.
- Steam for 20 minutes under high heat. Don’t forget to cover the lid with a cloth to absorb the moisture.
8. Kueh Cara Berlauk
Kueh cara berlauk or savoury cups may look like hors d’oeuvres but its taste, man! once you try it, you’ll be chucking those hors d’oeuvres out the window.
Shaped like takoyakis, kueh cara can be made both sweet and savoury but the latter is better to serve during big celebrations such as for Christmas parties.
A) Ingredients for filling
- 400g minced beef
- 2 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, diced
- 4 tablespoons of curry powder
- salt and sugar to taste
- cilantro, for garnishing
B) Ingredients for batter
- 4 cups of flour
- Water and coconut milk, 1:1 ratio
- 2 egg
- a bit of salt to taste
- Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil and add n the diced onion and garlic. Sauté until soft.
- Add in the curry powder and just a bit of water to make a paste, fry until the curry is aromatic.
- To this, add in the minced beef and season with salt and sugar.
- Take off the heat and set aside the filling.
- Make the batter by adding all the ingredients in (B) into a bowl. Make sure the consistency is of a pancake batter; not heavy but light.
- Now heat up your takoyaki pan if you have one, if not improvise. You can pour the batter on a flat pan and make them into tiny pancakes. Make sure your heat is at medium and not high or else you will burn the batter.
- When the batter is ¼ set, spoon in the ready-made filling and just wait till it sets. Ready to serve and eat immediately.
9. Kueh Bakar
Picture these pretty flower shaped dessert still piping hot from the oven with edges slightly burnt and a centre that is a soft creamy custard. I’m salivating just thinking about it! If you love the flavour of creamy custard, coconut and pandan, you’re going to love Kuih Bakar
Some may know this dessert as Bingka Bakar or Kuih Kemboja but in my house, it’s Kuih Bakar. It is easy to make and a sure hit on any occasion.
11. Pulut Tai-Tai
Pulut Tai Tai or ‘pulut tekan’ is a Nyonya kuih made of fluffy glutinous rice steamed in coconut milk. It is usually served together with delicious, thick kaya.
Although it seems like a simple dessert to make but it actually requires alot of technique and practice to make it perfect.
- 3 cups of glutinous rice
- 250ml water for soaking
- 500ml coconut milk
- 8 screwpine leaves
- 1 tsp salt
- 25 frozen or dried butterfly pea flowers
- Wash the glutinous rice thoroughly and soak in water for at least 4 hours.
- After soaking, drain away the water and pour rice into a steaming container.
- Add about ¾ of the coconut milk, all the screwpine leaves and salt, and steam over medium heat for about 20 minutes.
- While the glutinous rice is steaming, make the blue coloring. In a small saucepan, place the butterfly pea flowers and add about ¼ cup water. Bring to boil. You will see the blue coloring being extracted.
- After 20 minutes or so of steaming, remove the container of glutinous rice from the steamer, and remove the screwpine leaves.
- Fluff the rice with a fork or a pair of chopsticks, then pour in the rest of the coconut milk.
- Discard the butterfly pea flowers from the blue colored liquid, and sprinkle the blue colored liquid all over the glutinous rice mixture.
- Mix it again to ensure even distribution, and return to steamer.
- Steam for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until rice is soft and done.
- Pour the hot rice into a separate moulding container if necessary, then using a spoon, lightly press the rice into the container. This is to make it easier to cut out the pulut tai tai pieces when serving.
- Leave it to cool and set completely.
- When cool, slice and serve with your favourite kaya.
12. Bingka Ubi
Finally, on the 12th list is the bingka ubi!
Bingka ubi or cassava cake is a very traditional kueh that is common in countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. The best thing about this kueh is that it is naturally gluten-free. So, to those who are unable to enjoy most of the kuehs above, this is your go-to sweetmeat especially during celebrations!
- 250ml water
- 240g sugar
- 40g coconut oil or cooking oil of your choice
- 2 large eggs
- 200 ml coconut cream
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 900g grated cassava
A) Preparing the batter
- Place water, sugar, and coconut oil in a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil and then lower the heat and cook until sugar is melted. Remove from the heat and let it cool down for about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place eggs in a mixing bowl and beat with a fork. Add in coconut cream, and vanilla extract and continue to beat until everything is well mixed
- Put the grated cassava in a large mixing bowl. Add in the water and sugar mixture. Carefully add in egg mixture and stir to combine. Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celcius.
B) Baking the bingka
- Use a 8.5 x 7 inch baking dish. Oil the bottom and sides of the dish. Place a parchment paper covering the bottom and let it overhang at the sides (so you can lift it out easily later).
- Pour the batter in and smooth the top with rubber spatula the best you can. It won’t be perfectly smooth. Place this inside the oven, 3rd rack from the top and let it bake for the next 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean and the cake is no longer “jiggly” when you shake it
- Remove the cake from the oven and brush the top with a neutral-tasting cooking oil.
C) Browning the top
- Turn the broiler to low and put the cake back into the oven and let it brown. Do not walk away and let it brown until it has that nice golden brown. Remove from the oven completely and let it rest for 10 minutes
- Carefully remove from the baking dish to cooling rack and let it cool down completely before cutting. It may take about 1 hour or longer to cool down.
Let the Christmas Feast Begins