Kuih-muih: celorot, sampan, bongkol and koci
Kuih-muih: celorot, sampan, bongkol and koci
The fasting month is proceeding apace. This year, I have three children fasting from dawn to dusk, KakUda is fasting from dawn till when she returns from school, and Andak is fasting from breakfast all the way to lunch. With so many earnest young fasters, the iftar spread is of vital importance to bolster their thinly-spread iman. So every evening on my way home from work, I stop by our friendly neighborhood bazaar/pasar for goodies.

All the specialties of the season are on display: fancy sweets, colorful drinks, pan-fried stingrays. The market is packed for hours before sunset; not even swine flu can keep them away. Several stalls sell the triumvirate of fast-breaking drinkschop_hapjoobazaar : Air kelapa, sugarcane juice, and soy milk. Of the three, our household prefers the fresh-pressed sugarcane, dark dark green with a grassy flavor to the sweetness.

tebuMalaysian sweets – kuih – are almost all made from the same few ingredients, but little differences in preparation and presentation result in dozens of variations and permutations on the theme. The packaging is amazing – leaves of banana, pandan, coconut and others are cleaned, cut and wrapped into distinctive shapes, often fastened with a small pin made of bamboo or lidi. Some of our favorites are tapai nasi, bongkol, tako jagung, celorot, koci, and kuih sampan (I think).

tako_tapaiFor many of the kuih, the wrapping is part of the recipe. The tako jagung (santan over agar-agar with corn in the middle) is wrapped in a pandan box, which gives flavor and aroma as you spoon it out. The bongkol is wrapped in a banana leaf that is smoked first, given a smoky flavor to the creamy santan, sago flour and gula apong mixture inside. The celorot is wrapped in a coconut leaflet in such a way that you can press the base and it will squeeze out the top – like a push-up ice-cream.

soyalidah_jinn It is quite a change from my Michigan Ramadans where I survived on bread, zaatar, labne, olives and 5-litre bottles of olive oil – all but unavailable here. But perhaps diet is best suited to climate and this is how we do it at 1 Degree North Latitude.

Published by bingregory

Official organ of an American Muslim in Malaysian Borneo, featuring plants, pantuns and pictures from the Malay archipelago. Oversharing since 2002.

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  1. Ramadan karim to you and your family! And I have to say, it looks like you have a number of veritable treats to choose from, nothing beats those freshly made… no wonder children (and those of us young at heart) enjoy fasting so much! 🙂

  2. Is kuih sampan similar to kuih limas (called kuih tepung pelita elsewhere outside Perak)?

    We used to enjoy tako until doubt seeps in on whether the jelly is made using halal-certified sources or not. We have abstained from buying anything that has jelly, and fish balls/cakes too (e.g. fried mee, beehoon, kuay teow, char kuay teow etc) unless we are completely certain of its source. I would ask the seller what type/brand of jelly or fish balls/cakes they use. I was surprised that most sellers dont care or dont think the use of Halal-certified product is of utmost importance, despite, being in Malaysia, having the choice to do so.

  3. I haven’t had kuih limas, but the kuih sampan (which might not be the proper name) is a layer of creamy santan + flour mixture laying over a thin layer of gula apong. Basically the same as what is inside the kuih bongkol, minus the smokey banana leaf flavor. (Most of the traditional Sarawakian kuih use apong instead of gula malacca. It’s less sweet.)

  4. hmm tapai..i’m not sure if its halal, because its made of fermented rice, and if left for a certain time it will form alcohol. might want to check up on that since i’m not sure about the exact details.

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