|Alternative names||Kue (Indonesia), Kueh (Hokkian)|
|Place of origin||Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Southern China|
|Main ingredients||Various traditional snacks|
Kuih (also spelled Indonesian: kue, Hokkien/Teochew: kueh or kway; from the Hokkien: 粿 koé) are bite-sized snack or dessert foods commonly found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore as well as the Southern China provinces of Fujian and Chaoshan, also 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, biscuit, or pastries in English and are usually made from rice or glutinous rice.
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. The term Kue/Kueh/Kuih is widely used in the region of Indonesia and Malaysia to refer to sweet or savoury desserts. It is hard to distinguish between kuih of Malay or Peranakan (also known as "Straits Chinese" people) origin due to the fact that 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.
Chinese kuih, written as "guo" (粿) or sometimes as "gao" (糕), are usually made from ground rice flours. Many of the kue are made especially for important festivities such as the Qingming Festival or Chinese New Year, however many others are consumed as main meals or snack on a daily basis. Example of these kue include:
- Nian gao (年糕): Known in the Hokkien language as "Ti Kueh" (甜粿) and Malaysian as kuih bakul. A sticky and sweet rice cake customarily associated with Chinese New Year festivities. In Southeast Asia it is also available year round as a popular street food treat, made with pieces of niangao sandwiched between slices of taro and sweet potato, dipped in batter and deep-fried.
- Caozai Guo (草仔粿): Pronounced in Hokkien as "Tsao wa kueh" (chháu-á-ké). Also known as "Tsukak kueh" (鼠麴粿, chhú-khak-ké) from the herb it is made from. In many areas of China, they are made as another form of red tortoise cake (紅龜粿).
- Turnip cake (菜頭粿, 菜頭糕): Eaten straight, panfried, or stir-fried with egg as Chai tow kway.
- Or Kuih(芋粿) - a steamed savoury cake made from pieces of taro (commonly known as "yam" in Malaysia), dried prawns and rice flour. It is then topped with deep fried shallots, spring onions, sliced chilli and dried prawns, and usually served with a chilli dipping sauce.
- Chwee kueh (水粿)：Teochew term which literally translates as "water rice cake", bowl-shaped rice cakes topped with diced preserved radish and chilli relish.
- Fun guo (粉粿)
- Ang koo kue (紅龜粿) (Pronounced as Ang Ku Kueh)* - a small round or oval shaped Chinese pastry with typically a red-coloured soft sticky glutinous rice flour skin wrapped around a sweet filling in the centre.*
- Yi Buah/Buak (意粑) - a Hainanese steamed dumpling made of glutinous rice flour dough. Also known as Kuih E-Pua, it is filled with a palm sugar sweetened mixture of grated coconut, toasted sesame seeds and crushed roasted peanuts, wrapped with sheets of banana leaves pressed into a fluted cup shape, and customarily marked with a dab of red food colouring. This kuih is traditionally served during a wedding and a baby's full-moon celebration.
Many Chinese kue require the use of a Kue mold similar to that use in mooncakes, which is either carved out of wood or made of plastics. Kue molds with turtles are ubiquitous, though molds of peaches are usually quite common. Red coloured turtle kue are known especially as "Ang ku kueh"/"Red Tortoise Cake" (紅龜粿). Since many Chinese no longer make kue at home, these molds have become less common in many kitchens.
Indonesian kuih, or occasionally spelled kue or kueh are popular snacks in Indonesia, with a wide variety of snack items referred using the term. Indonesian kue demonstrated local native delicacies, Chinese influences, as well as European cake and pastry influences. For example bakpia and kue ku are Chinese or Peranakan origin, while klepon, nagasari, getuk, lupis and wajik are native origin, on the other hand lapis legit, kue cubit, and pastel are European influenced. In Java, traditional kues are categorized under jajan pasar (lit: "market buys" or "market munchies"). The well-setted and nicely decorated colourful assorted jajan pasar usually served as food gift, parcel or to accompany tumpeng (the main dish) during Javanese traditional ceremonies. Because of its historical colonial ties, kue is also popular in the Netherlands. Examples of Indonesian kue are:
- Kue ape, thin wheat flour batter pancake with thicker part on the middle, coloquially called kue tetek (breast cake).
- Kue apem, similar to Malay apam, made of cassava tapai, coconut water, coconut sugar, rice flour, coconut milk, all mixed as a dough mixture and steamed until fluffy and cooked. Served with grated coconut.
- Kue bakpia, bean-filled Chinese pastry originally introduced by Fujianese immigrants. Today associated with Yogyakarta city.
- Kue bika Ambon, yellow porous cake made from tapioca and sago flour, eggs, sugar and coconut milk. Bika Ambon generally sold in pandan flavour, although now available also other flavors like banana, durian, cheese, chocolate.
- Kue bingka, cake made of mashed potato, flour, eggs, sugar, coconut milk, vanilla, milk and margarine, all mixed as dough and baked until golden brown and cooked. probably related to Philippines bibingka cake.
- Kue bolen, baked pastry with crust layers similar to those of croissant, baked flour with butter or margarine layers, filled with cheese and banana. Other variants uses durian fillings. The cake demonstrate European pastry influences.
- Kue bolu kukus, steamed bun made of flour, sugar, eggs, margarine, and vanilla or chocolate flavouring.
- Kue bugis, steamed glutinous rice flour and tapioca colored green with pandan, filled with grated coconut and coconut sugar, wrapped inside banana leaf.
- Kue cara bikang
- Kue cubit, Kue cubit uses flour, baking powder, sugar and milk as their primary ingredients. The liquid dough is poured inside a steel plate with several small round basins so that it will form round shape when cooked, and poured with meises (chocolate granules) on top of it. The seller uses some kind of special hooked stick to take the cake off from the steel plate. This cake is called kue "cubit" (Indonesian: pinch) because of its small bite size, to eat it one have to pinch it.
- Kue clorot, the sticky dough of glutinous rice flour sweetened with coconut sugar filled into the cone-shaped janur (young coconut leaf), and steamed until cooked.
- Kue cucur, pancake made of fried rice flour batter and coconut sugar.
- Kue dadar gulung, grated coconut with coconut sugar wrapped inside thin omelette made of rice flour. The dadar (omelette) usually colored green.
- Kue getuk, made of cassava flour and coconut sugar, served with sweetened grated coconut
- Kue klappertaart, coconut tart, specialty of Manado city, North Sulawesi.
- Kue klepon, balls of glutinous rice flour filled with gula jawa (red coconut sugar), boiled or steamed. The balls are rolled upon grated coconut as the coconut granules stuck upon the balls. It is called "onde-onde" in Sumatra and Malay Peninsula
- Kue kroket, Indonesian version of potato croquette, introduced during the Dutch colonial rule. The kroket is made of potato and minced chicken inside a crepe-like wrapper is one of the popular snack items in Indonesia. The kroket is made by taking a potato and chicken filling and wrapping it inside a crepe-like wrapper, breaded, and fried.
- Kue ku, Chinese origin kue of sticky rice flour with sweet filling. The same as Chinese "Ang ku kueh" (Red Tortoise Cake).
- Kue lapis, layered colorful cake made of glutinous rice flour, coconut and sugar
- Kue lapis legit, also known as Kue lapis Batavia or spekkoek (layer cake) is a rich kue consisting of thin alternating layers made of butter, eggs and sugar, piled on top of each other. Each layer is laid down and then grilled separately, making the creation of a kueh lapis an extremely laborious and time-consuming process.
- Kue lapis Surabaya, similar ingredient to lapis legit but only have three layer of plain and chocolate flavour layered cake.
- Kue lemper, made of glutinous rice filled with chicken, fish or abon (meat floss). The meat filling is rolled inside the rice, in a fashion similar to an egg roll.
- Kue lupis, compressed glutinous rice served with grated coconut and coconut sugar syrup.
- Kue mangkok
- Kue moci, the same recipe and derived from Chinese mochi, glutinous pounded rice flour filled with sweet peanut paste. Some variant covered with sesame seeds, other might be plain.
- Kue nagasari or kue pisang, traditional steamed cake made from rice flour, coconut milk and sugar, filled with slices of banana.
- Kue odading
- Kue onde-onde, the same as Chinese Jin deui. In Sumatra and Malay Peninsula, onde-onde refer to klepon.
- Kue ongol-ongol
- Kue pancong
- Kue pandan, fluffy cake made of eggs, sugar, and flour, flavoured with Pandanus extract, usually colored light green.
- Kue pastel, pie of crust made of thin pastry filled with meat (usually chicken) mixed with vegetables (chopped carrot and beans), rice vermicelli and sometimes egg, then deep fried in vegetable oil. It is thought to be of Portuguese origin. Its shape is similar to Malaysian karipap (curry puff) but curry paste/powder is absence.
- Kue pisang molen, fried banana wrapped in stripe of wheat flour dough. The term molen refers to "mill" in Dutch suggested its Dutch influence.
- Kue poffertjes, Dutch batter pancakes, demonstrate Dutch influences on Indonesian cuisine.
- Kue pukis
- Kue putu
- Kue putu mayang
- Kue rangi
- Kue risoles, the mixture of minced meat, beans and carrots wrapped inside thin flour omelette, covered with bread crumbs and fried.
- Kue semar mendem, variants of lemper, instead wrapped with banana leaf, the glutinous rice filled with chicken, fish or meat floss is wrapped inside thin egg omelette.
- Kue semprong, cone shaped crispy flour and sugar thin layer, similar with crepes but crispier.
- Kue serabi, traditional pancake that is made from rice flour with coconut milk or just plain shredded coconut as an emulsifier.
- Kue sus or soes, baked pastry filled with soft and moist cream made from the mixture of milk, sugar and flour.
- Kue talam
- Kue tambang
- Kue wajik, a compressed sweet glutinous rice cake.
- Kue wingko, is a traditional Javanese pancake-like snack made from coconut.
Malaysian and Singaporean kuih
Kuehs are not confined to a certain meal but can be eaten throughout the day. They are an integral part of 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, kue (plural kueh-mueh or 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:
- Apam balik - a turnover pancake with a texture similar to a crumpet with crisp edges, made from a flour based batter with raising agent. It is typically cooked on a griddle and topped with castor sugar, ground peanut, creamed corn, and grated coconut in the middle, and then turned over. Many different takes on this dish exist as part of the culinary repertoire of the Malay, Chinese, Peranakan, Indonesian, and ethnic Bornean communities; all under different names.
- Bahulu - tiny crusty sponge cakes which come in distinctive shapes like button and goldfish, acquired from being baked in molded pans. Bahulu is usually baked and served for festive occasions.
- Cucur - deep-fried fritters, sometimes known as jemput-jemput. Typical varieties include cucur udang (fritters studded with a whole unshelled prawn), cucur badak (sweet potato fritters), and cucur kodok (banana fritters).
- Curry puff - a small pie filled with a curried filling, usually chicken and/or potatoes, in a deep-fried or baked pastry shell.
- Kuih akok - a rich confection made with liberal quantities of eggs, coconut milk, flour and brown sugar, akok have a distinctive sweet caramel taste. It is popular in the states of Kelantan and Terengganu.
- Kuih cincin - a deep fried dough pastry-based snack popular with East Malaysia's Muslim communities.
- Kuih dadar or kuih ketayap - mini crepes rolled up with a palm sugar-sweetened coconut filling. The crepes are coloured and flavoured with pandan essence.
- Kuih jala - a type of traditional fried confection in the eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak. A rice flour batter is ladled into an emptied coconut shell bearing many small holes underneath, which is then held over hot oil and moved in a circular motion. The mixture will drip into the oil like thread, and forms a lattice-like layer on the oil as it fries to a solid crisp.
- Kuih jelurut - also known as kuih selorot in Sarawak, this kuih is made from a mixture of gula apong and rice flour, then rolled with palm leaves into cones and steam cooked.
- Kuih kapit, sapit or sepi - these crispy folded wafer biscuits are colloquially known as "love letters".
- Kuih keria - fried doughnuts made with a sweet potato batter and rolled in caster sugar.
- Kuih kochi - glutinous rice dumplings filled with a sweet paste, shaped into a pyramid-like and wrapped with banana leaves.
- Kuih lapis - a sweet steamed cake made from rice flour, coconut milk, sugar and various shades of edible food colouring done with many individual layers.
- Kuih lidah - Kuih lidah (lidah literally means "tongue") hails from the Bruneian Malay community of Papar, specifically Kampung Berundong, in Sabah and possesses designated GI status.
- Kuih pie tee - this Nyonya specialty is a thin and crispy pastry tart shell filled with a spicy, sweet mixture of thinly sliced vegetables and prawns.
- Kuih pinjaram - a saucer-shaped deep fried fritter with crisp edges and a dense, chewy texture towards the centre. It is widely sold by street food vendors in the open air markets of East Malaysia.
- Kuih serimuka - a two-layered kuih with steamed glutinous rice forming the bottom half and a green custard layer made with pandan juice.
- Kuih talam — this kuih has two layers. The top consists of a white layer made from coconut milk and rice flour, whereas the bottom layer is green and is made from green pea flour flavoured with pandan.
- Kuih wajid or wajik - a compressed Malay confection made of glutinous rice cooked with coconut milk and gula melaka.
- Onde onde - small round balls made from glutinous rice flour coloured and flavoured with pandan, filled with palm sugar syrup and rolled in freshly grated coconut.
- Pineapple tart - flaky pastries filled with or topped with pineapple jam.
- Pulut inti - wrapped in banana leaf in the shape of a pyramid, this kuih consists of glutinous rice with a covering of grated coconut candied with palm sugar.
- Pulut panggang - glutinous rice parcels stuffed with a spiced filling, then wrapped in banana leaves and char grilled. Depending on regional tradition, the spiced filling may include pulverized dried prawns, caramelized coconut paste or beef floss. In the state of Sarawak, the local pulut panggang contains no fillings and are wrapped in pandan leaves instead.
- Putu piring - a round steamed cake made of rice flour dough, with a palm sugar sweetened filling.