Monday, October 12, 2009

What is the food closely related to Grandma?

If you are an older Singaporean, you would probably share the same answer with me. I guessed you would have chosen kuih as the answer. Not only it is an integral part of the family's daily life, it is also included in our traditional festivities such as Hari Raya and Chinese New Year. Like all grandmothers, kuihs come in different shapes, colours, texture and designs. They are as sweet as the "Ti kuih" ( nien kau or sweet sticky rice cake) or savoury as rempah udang (spiced glutinous rice roll) for you to choose. Just as it is difficult for you to choose your faourite grandma between your maternal or paternal side of your external family, Nyonya (Peranakan) and Malay kuihs are very hard to distinguish. Unless, you addressed different names on the mom side and the dad side to help differentiate family members, unlike English, we just have "grandmas" we cannot tell if they are from your mom or dad's side. But in traditional Chinese, they have different names to help clarify these situations so you do not have to ask whether it is on the mom or dad's side. ( Mom's mom = 外婆 Wai po and Dad's mom = 奶奶 Nai nai).

You may have your favourite, but in most cases like they both have the same basic ingredients you loved. In almost all kuihs, the most common ingredients for kuihs are grated coconut, coconut cream,pandan leaves and sugar, rice flour glutinous rice flour, and tapioca or mung bean flour. Not that my wife Jo is going to be a 奶奶 (Nai nai) soon but she has a collection of kuih recipes, just in case. Here is one of her kuih recipes.

Kuih Talam Recipe:

Base layer:

80g rice flour
40g tapioca flour
40g mung bean flour (green pea flour)
250g sugar
20pcs pandan leaves (blended and liquidised into juice)If unavailable, pandan essence or 1tsp. green colouring with 700 ml of water.
1 tsp alkaline water.

Top layer:

50g rice
11/2 tbsp of green pea flour
1tbsp tapioca flour
11/2 tbsp tapioca flour
450 coconut milk
1tsp salt

Mix the ingredients for the bottom green layer in a saucepan and cook over a low flame until thickens slightly. Pour into a greased 20cm square tray and steam for 15 minutes. In the meantime, cook the white layer by combining all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook and stirring continuously over a low flame until mixture thickens slightly. Pour the white mixture over the grenn layer and steam for 20 minutes. Cool the kuih completely before cutting to serve.


  1. bengawan solo (in s'pore) sells kueh talam for 80cts a piece.

  2. yunm yum...
    can u post the 9 layer kueh recipe please.. and how to make it the one got many color.. with red on top

    and the agar agar got coconut base one.... how to make...

  3. Hi BY,
    Okay, We will make it for dessert tomorrow's makan session. Come in early if you want to learn how it is done.
    Phil & Jo