Oldies are Goldies: Kuih Raya
Growing up, my favourite kuih is what I call the ‘cili-cili’. I rejoice every Ramadan when I discover that my grandmother has prepared bottles of ‘cili-cili’ for the entire family. When asked, I would rave about it in Malay class about how it’s my absolute favourite thing to eat during Raya. The sad thing was, not everyone knew about it and that was when I found out that it was actually a delicacy unique to the Boyanese.
This made me wonder about other delicacies that are unique to certain subgroups of the Malay-Muslim community that I may not be aware of. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but here are some kuih you may want to try if you’ve never heard of them before!
Kuih cili-cili, also known as Kuih Bidaran or Kuih Cacing, is a Boyanese delicacy that is usually made for Hari Raya.
It is essentially rolled up dough that is fried in oil and coated with sugar. Usually, it is a yellowish colour but this just depends on preference! Sometimes, cili-cili is dyed in different colours like green and red to make it look more appealing. These colours also mimic the look of red and green chillies, thus the name: kuih cili-cili!
Cili-cili is sweet, crunchy, and insanely addictive — in my opinion, at least!
It is a pretty simple recipe but is not commonly available now because of how tedious it is to make.
Rempeyek or peyek is a crunchy Malay snack you usually see on your Hari Raya spread!
It’s a deep fried savoury Indonesian-Javanese cracker. It is made by frying the batter (made with rice flour, coconut milk, salt, and spices) with the topping of your choice in hot oil, with or without a mold. Rempeyek has several variations. The most common and classic one is topped with peanuts! Other toppings include anchovies, green beans (Tumpi), or even spinach (which is called Rempeyek Bayam).
Rempeyek kacang fried with a mold
Rempeyek is described as flavourful, crispy, and a real snack! Some say that it got its name from the sound of when you bite into the crunchy and crispy crackers.
Nowadays, Rempeyek is available all year round and you don’t have to wait for Hari Raya to come around to enjoy it! Yum!
Kuih Bangkit Bugis
Kuih Bangkit Bugis is sometimes also called Kuih Bangkek Bugis and is said to be compulsory in each Bugis household during Hari Raya.
I’ve personally never tried this before but Kuih Bangkit Bugis is said to be a thin cookie with a crumbly and crispy texture! Its coconut-y flavour comes from fried, grated coconut, which is mixed with flour, sugar, eggs, then baked to golden perfection! Cue chef’s kiss.
Kuih Bangkit Bugis is often regarded as a favourite afternoon snack for the elderly, to be eaten with coffee or tea! So cute.
Kuih Wajik/ Wajid or Bee Koh (in Hokkien and Sumatra) is an Indonesian diamond-shaped snack! It is said to be a cuisine of the Minangkabau people of Western Sumatra. It also has great cultural significance within the Javanese culture.
This sweet and sticky rice cake is made from steamed glutinous rice which is further cooked in palm sugar, coconut milk, and pandan leaves. It is spread and compressed on a baking tray. Once cooled to room temperature, it is cut and presented in the shape of a diamond. The name wajik is derived from the way the kuih is cut, in the shape of a diamond or rhombus.
That being said, there is a varied preference in how the kuih wajik is made. Some prefer for it to be soft while others prefer a firmer texture.
Kuih Wajik (firmer texture)
Interesting how one cuisine can have so many roots and relations to different groups of people, isn’t it?
Recipe: https://whattocooktoday.com/wajik.html# (English)
Kuih Kalakatar, also known as Kuih Bingka Kelapa, is a traditional dessert of the Banjar community and is a popular dessert to serve during festive occasions like Hari Raya.
Kuih Kalakatar is not difficult to make! Its main ingredient is young coconut, which gives the dessert its delicious flavour and fragrant smell. Other ingredients are rice flour, plain flour, sugar, eggs, and salt. All these are mixed together, strained into a pot, and heated over the stove until it is cooked (but don’t let it boil). It is then baked for 1.5 hours to produce a delicious dessert enjoyed not just by the Banjar natives but by other communities as well.
If you asked the older folks out there, they might tell you that the word ‘Kalakatar’ comes from ‘kala’ (meaning ‘ketika’ or ‘when’) and ‘katar’ (meaning ‘panas’ or ‘hot’). Hence, it is said that the dessert is best eaten warm.
Recipe: https://myagri.com.my/2018/01/kuih-kalakatar/ (Malay)
These scrumptious delicacies may not have ‘originated’ from just one group of people! In fact, it probably is very difficult to pinpoint its exact origins. What I find most important though, is how these scrumptious kuih are enjoyed by more than just one community and, to some extent, help to bring these communities together, which I find absolutely lovely