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Jajan Pasar in Jakarta.JPG
Jajan pasar (market munchies) in Java, consist of assorted kue.
Alternative name(s) Kue (Indonesia), Kueh (Hokkian)
Type Snack
Place of origin Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Southern China
Main ingredient(s) 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 guo[edit]

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:[1]

  • Nian gao (年糕): Known in the Hokkien language as "Ti Kueh" (甜粿)
  • 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.
  • Turnip cake (菜頭粿, 菜頭糕): Eaten straight, panfried, or stir-fried with egg as Chai tow kway.
  • Taro cake (芋粿, 芋糕)
  • Chwee kueh (水粿):Teochew term which literally translates as "water rice cake".
  • Fun guo (粉粿)
  • Red Tortoise Cake (紅龜粿) (Pronounced as Ang Ku Kueh)
A dish of Chwee Kueh 
Cantonese pan-fried brown-sugar kueh 
Chai tow kway stir-fried dark (with dark soy and molasses) or light (salt and fish sauce

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.[2]

Indonesian kue[edit]

Traditional market in Yogyakarta selling various kinds of jajan pasar kue.

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 kuih[edit]

Some of the more well known types of kuih include the following:

  • Bingka ubi is a baked kuih of grated tapioca mixed with a little tapioca flour (derived from the residue of the juice after the grated tapioca is squeezed to remove bitterness), coconut milk and white or brown sugar. The kuih is yellow in if white caster sugar is used and brown if raw sugar or palm sugar (gula Malaka) is used. After baking a delicious dark brown crust tops the cake.
  • Kuih apam is one of the popular local delicacies in Malaysia. It is made up of flour and egg with filling that includes melted butter, sugar, peanut and sweetcorn.
  • Kuih cara berlauk is made up of flour, egg, coconut milk and turmeric. The mixture is mixed thoroughly before being cooked in a special mold until it hardens. Before it hardens, a filling made up either spiced beef or chicken is added. This kuih is very popular in the month of Ramadhan.
  • Kuih ketayap is a pankace mix filled with coconut filling. Traditionally,the juice of pandan leaves is added to the pancake batter to get the green colour. Today green colouring is added and the flavour of the pandan leaves is obtained by artificial essence or by using pandan leaves to flavour the filling. The coconut filling is made by adding grated coconut (dried grated coconut can be used if you cannot get fresh grated coconut) to brown sugar syrup. The syrup is made by heating brown sugar in a small quantity of water. The resulting jam like consistency is wrapped in the pancake skin. This is done first by rolling the pancakes around the coconut filling, then folding the sides and finally rolling it again to form cylindrical parcels.
  • Kuih karipap is a small pie consisting of specialised curry with chicken and potatoes in a deep-fried pastry shell. The curry is especially thick and rich to prevent itself from running.
  • Kuih keria (a.k.a. Kuih gelang) are sweet potato doughnuts. They resemble just like the regular ones except that they are made with sweet potato. Each doughnut is rolled in caster sugar. This is usually eaten in Malaysia during breakfast or in the morning tea hours of the day, along with other cakes such as apam or the more savory pratha.
  • Kuih kaswi are rice cakes made with palm sugar. The ingredients are mixed into a batter and poured into small cups (traditionally, it is done with Chinese tea cups). When served, the cup is removed and the rice cake is topped with grated coconut flesh.
  • Kuih koci is a pyramid of glutinuous rice flour filled with a sweet peanut paste.
  • Kuih talam (tray cake) is a kueh consisting of two layers. The top white layer is made from rice flour and coconut milk, while the bottom green layer is made from green pea flour and extract of pandan leaf.
  • Kuih serimuka is a two-layered dessert with steamed glutinous rice forming the bottom half and a green custard layer made with pandan juice (hence the green colour). Coconut milk is a key ingredient in making this kuih. It is used as a substitute for water when cooking the glutinous rice and making the custard layer.
  • Lapis sagu (a.k.a. 9-layers kuih) is a steamed multicoloured and multilayered firm kuih made from tapioca flour, coconut milk, and flavoured with pandan. The layers are separately steamed.
  • Pulut inti is glutinous rice topped with caramelised grated coconut flesh and wrapped in a cut banana leaf to resemble a square pyramid.
  • Pulut tekan is just a plain glutinous rice cake. It is served with kaya (jam from pandan leaves) coconut jam. The glutinous rice cakes are coloured with bunga telang. Half-cooked glutinous rice is divided into two portions. Both are them added with coconut milk but one of them is added with the bunga telang juice. This gives the rice cake a very bright blueish-indigo colour which is appealing to children. The half-cooked glutinous rice is then scooped in alternating fashion into the original tray to give it a marble effect of blue and white. The rice is then cooked some more and when it is cooked and cooled, it is cut into tall rectangles.
  • Akok is a traditional sweet dessert in Kelantan, Malaysia. Made mainly from eggs, coconut milk, flour and brown sugar, akok have a distinctive sweet caramel taste. It is often served during afternoon snack together with coffee. Akok is prepared in a special cooking utensil called "dapur tembaga" made with solid brass of which it will be placed surrounded with charcoal.

Peranakan kueh[edit]

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.[citation needed]

Nyonya Kuih 
Kuih Wingko 
Kueh tutu (or putu piring) with its ground rice outside and a sweet peanut or coconut filling. 

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "臺灣閩南語常用詞辭典:粿". 中華民國教育部. Retrieved 2008-12-17. 
  2. ^ "粿印". 國立宜蘭傳統藝術中心. Retrieved 2008-12-17.