Singapore’s Peranakan culture reaches back as far as the 15th century, and its heritage can be seen in the various Peranakan cuisine and architecture still present throughout our island today. One of the quintessential features of Peranakan cuisine is no doubt Nyonya Kueh, a dessert that has been popularised by Bengawan Solo. From red to green to blue to brown, Nyonya Kuehs come in a wide variety of colours and sizes, and so you might be wondering--what is what? In this guide, we will break down the 8 types of traditional kuehs that will make for an excellent afternoon tea snack.
- Ang Ku Kueh
Obnoxiously red, this oval-shaped kueh is molded to resemble a tortoise shell. The Kueh consists of a sweet filling wrapped in a soft glutinous rice flour skin, tainted an auspicious red. The tortoise shape is reminiscent of the Chinese belief that eating tortoises could bring longevity, good fortune and prosperity.
Special note: Ji Xiang Confectionery is the only shop in Singapore specialising in traditional handmade Ang Ku Kueh, with the mung bean filling meticulously steamed, mashed, stir-fried, and then mixed with oil and pandan water.
This light green coloured kueh is shaped like a fishball and covered in coconut flakes, with a rich gula melaka filling that bursts forth in a delicious concoction of flavours. Made with sweet potatoes, glutinous rice flour, gula melaka and plenty of grated coconut, this little snack is that what invokes our childhood nostalgia for simply joy.
Kueh Talam is a rectangular block of Kueh segmented by two layers- a heavyset top white layer made with coconut milk and rice flour, and a bottom green layer made from rice and mung bean flour. The bottom layer is tainted green using natural green colouring from pandan leaves. With a soft, dense consistency, this is perfect as a hearty snack.
Often confused with Kueh Talam- I don’t blame you, they are both two layered kuehs with green and white layers, Kueh Salat is the tombalek version of Kueh Talam. This means that Kueh Salat has the green layer on top and the white layer below- the opposite of Kueh Talam. The white base is a layer of steamed glutinous rice, while the green is a thick layer of custard mixed with coconut milk and pandan juice. This chewy consistency is good for when you need to give your jaw a bit of an extra exercise.
Otherwise known as the 9-layer kueh, Kueh Lapis consists of 9 layers with 9 distinctive colours. Well-loved in Singapore as a popular tea-time treat, Kueh Lapis’ ubiquitous presence in dining tables truly enshrines its position as a household snack. While most Singaporeans just wolf down the entire snack in several mouthfuls, Kueh Lapis is actually meant to be eaten layer by layer. This process represents your progress through different stages of life. Just some #foodforthought.
Source: My Singapore Food
Similar to Ondeh Ondeh, Kueh Kosui is also coated with freshly grated coconut flakes. Under these alluring aroma of the coconut flakes are bouncy brown kuehs, made from tapioca starch, rice flour and Gula Melaka. One bite in and you will be taken by the captivating blend of textures and flavours that tickle your tongue with delight. A bite-sized snack that’s easy to pop into your mouth at one go for that quick adrenaline of sweetened goodness.
Source: The Baking Hermit
Kueh Bugis looks nondescript- it is a simple green dough brushed with a thick swath of coconut paste and wrapped with layers of pandan leaves. It can sit quietly at the far end corner of a kueh store and you will fail to notice it among its other more brightly coloured and elaborately adorned counterparts. However, to miss it would be your great loss- this is a fantastic snack to satisfy your desire for a sumptuous, densely flavoured snack.
Credit: Miss Tam Chiak
Come and try your hand at Kueh making at our Nyonya Kueh Appreciation workshop, where you will learn how to make Kueh Lapis and Ondeh-Ondeh with the famous Kim Choo Kueh Chang.
• • •
At Culturally, we offer customised hands-on cultural experiences for you and your loved ones to enjoy and have fun whilst learning about other cultures!
• • •
Looking for other kinds of cooking workshops in Singapore? Feel free to check us out!