The local desserts in Malaysia, often called as kuih, are a beautiful combination of Malay, Nyonya or Peranakan cultures.
They come in many forms, shapes, sizes, colours, styles and flavours — in which some are sweet, savoury, rich and thick, smooth and light, while some are even spicy and fragrant.
There is no fixed time to have a kuih because you can eat it any time of the day, as a snack or as dessert, and even as a meal on its own.
Also known as Red Tortoise Cake, this is a soft sticky glutinous rice flour skin with mochi-like texture, mixed with sweet potato purée (or pumpkin purée) wrapped around a sweet filling in the centre, moulded to resemble a shape of tortoise shell and then steamed on a cut banana leaf.
2. Kek Lapis
This exquisite rectangular-shaped geometric cake is made in the tradition of the Malaysian Sarawak Layer Cake (Kek Lapis Sarawak). The process of making this even includes a blueprint!
3.Tapioca Steamed Cake / Kuih Ubi Kayu
Tapioca Cake (Kuih Bingka Ubi Kayu) is a cake made from cassava with a moist, soft, chewy texture.
4. Salted Egg Yolk Bun
Just take a look at that filling. Ummmph! This bun is soft, fluffy and made even better with the salted egg yolk that oozes out as soon as you take a bite.
5. Pulut Tai Tai
Kuih Tai Tai is made of glutinous rice, where it’s separated into two batches, one blue and the other white. These are mixed together to form a single slab which resembles a marbled design. Is is then topped with kaya to make the dessert more enjoyable.
6. Kuih Lapis
Not to be mistaken with Kuih Lopes or Kek Lapis, KUIH LAPIS is a traditional snack of colourful layered soft rice flour pudding.
In Malay, lapis means “layers” and while this dessert is popular in Indonesia and Malaysia, it can also be found in the Netherlands through their colonial links.
7. Kuih Talam
Kuih talam is a traditional steamed snack made of rice flour, coconut milk and other ingredients in a mold pan called talam which means “tray” in Malay.
8. Durian Crepe
Durian is best served on its own, however, have you ever tried the crepe version? It is extremely delicious, and will take you to Cloud 9 instantly!
9. Kuih Kosui
Kuih kosui is a saucer shaped rice cake flavored with pandan (screwpine leaves) juice. A lot of pandan is used to bring out the aroma of this kuih. It is best eaten with freshly grated coconut.
10. Kuih Ketayap / Dadar
Kuih Ketayap is a popular traditional dessert of sweet coconut pancake. It is also known as Kuih Dadar Gulung, in which dadar literally means “omelette” or “pancake” while gulung means “to roll”.
11. Pulut Panggang
Pulut panggang is a famous traditional Malay snack that contains steamed, glutinous rice with a spicy sambal filling. The rice is then wrapped in banana leaves and grilled over a traditional charcoal stove. This special Malay snack is very filling and is usually served at teatime.
12. Talam Cendol
This is essentially Kuih Talam, but with cendol pieces inside.
13. Chwee Kueh
Chwee Kueh is typically made from rice flour and the delicious savoury pickled radish for toppings is the star of this dessert.
14. Sesame Balls
Sesame balls are usually filled with sweet mung bean paste. This is one of our favorite childhood dessert. It’s simple, not too sweet, and affordable.
15. Apam Balik
This crepe-like dessert is often found in pasar malam, which can be served plain or with a sweet santan sauce and filled with anything from crushed peanuts to sweet corn.
16. Curry Puff
17. Longevity Bun
Traditionally, these birthday buns are shaped like Chinese peaches hence they are also known as sau thoe (longevity peaches) to symbolise immortality.
The outer layer is sprayed with edible pink dye and then painted with motifs or pictographs of longevity, luck, prosperity and happiness.
18. Hainanese Coconut Kueh
Hainanese Coconut Kuih or Yi bua, is a glutinous rice flour kueh filled with a coconut, ginger, sesame and peanut filling that has been sweetened with gula melaka.
19. Soon Kuih
This dumpling-like kueh is filled with a fragrant mixture of shredded bamboo shoots, turnip and dried shrimps wrapped in a smooth rice-tapioca flour skin. Yummy!
19. Steamed Rice Cake / Putong Bigas
Puto is also an umbrella term for various kinds of indigenous steamed cakes, including those made without rice. The key characteristics are that they are cooked by steaming and are made with some type of flour (to contrast with bibingka, which are baked cakes).
This is a traditional puto made with galapong is sometimes referred to as putong puti (whiteputo) or putong bigas (rice puto) to distinguish it from other dishes that are also called puto.
Bahulu is derived from Kristang (Portugese-Eurasian people) word, bolu, which means cake. It is traditionally baked using brass moulds placed on hot sand, and can be consumed when it becomes a bit dry. Dunk it in hot coffee or tea for added flavour!
21. Radish Cake
Turnip cake is a Chinese dim sum dish. The less commonly used radish cake is a more accurate name, as Western-style turnips are not used in the dish but rather shredded radish and plain rice flour. It is traditionally called carrot cake in Malaysia
22. Steamed Pumpkin Cake
This is a typical and popular Chinese savoury snack enjoyed by those who yearn for traditional steamed cakes. Pumpkin adds a natural sweetness and gives this steamed pumpkin cake such a beautiful and vibrant golden colour.
Hence, they do not just taste good, they look great and auspicious too.
23. Chinese White Sugar Cake
White Sugar Cake (Baak Tong Gau in Cantonese) is another favourite kueh of ours. It consists of rice flour, sugar, yeast, and magic. Apparently it’s gluten free and vegan too!
24. Huat Kueh
There are two types of Huat Kueh, one type is using wheat flour and another type is using rice flour. It is a common Chinese cupcake-like pastry, which is commonly served during Chinese New Year.
The one pictured above is a very simple Chinese steamed cake recipe using dark brown sugar.
25. Hee Pan
This is a sweet and chewy bao that can be munched on as a snack or an easy breakfast. Especially famous with the elderlies!
25. Kuih Seri Muka
Kuih seri muka, sri muka or putri salat is a Banjarese and Malay two-layered dessert with steamed glutinous rice forming the bottom half and a green custard layer made with pandan juice. Coconut milk is a key ingredient in making this kuih.
26. Mung Bean Fritters
Mung bean fritters or Kuih Kasturi in Malay, is a very simple kuih, where mung bean is cooked before coating with batter and deep fried.
Onde-onde, or kelepon, is a traditional Southeast Asian green-coloured balls of rice cake filled with liquid palm sugar and coated in grated coconut, originating from Indonesia.
28. Pau Sambal
In the old days, burgers were expensive and not as easily available like right now. The Malaysian version is this Pau Sambal, a mini-sized burger bun which is deep fried, filled with sambal and cucumber inside.
29. Png Tao
This is a Teochew kuih that’s a common item sold in the market hawker stalls. It’s a glutinous rice dessert wrapped with flour, and the design resembles peach.
30. Kuih Bakar Pandan / Kemboja
This is another type of Bahulu, which was actually created from bahulu’s extra dough. It is then mixed with pandan leaves and baked in the oven.
31. Kuih Lopes
Kuih Lopes has many versions across the West Coast but the northern Malaysian version is pandan flavoured glutinous rice cakes, rolled in coconut and served with gula melaka syrup. It has it’s signature bite from the use of limewater.