Mak Cik, What Kuih Is This?!

July 14, 2015



The word “kuih” (or kueh) is uniquely Malay. There is no exact translation of it that I can find. English uses “cookies and biscuits but they’re very specific. I don’t think you can refer to some of the kuihs using biscuits or cookies! We use “kuih” to refer to many delicacies and you often find them all during Raya! Since Raya is around the corner, let me share with you some of my favourite kuih and what could be their names in English!

Kuih Makmur
Direct translation: Prosperous Treats

It’s technically just rolled up baked flour with a light shower of sugar covering the kuih. They’re usually very cute and round (but comes in many shapes now). It breaks down and crumbles at first bite so it’s very sensitive (just like your ex-girlfriend). There is an art to handling a kuih makmur!

EJ-approved English name: Crumbly roundcake

Kuih Bahulu/Baulu
Direct translation: Your odour/shoulder mini-cake

It looks inflated and very soft, but don’t play with it! It’s not too sweet and often has a pandan or vanilla flavour added to it. It’s very hard to eat just one of these cuties! Because it’s squishy, some people actually call them ‘Spongeballs’ (and technically the bahulu is a part of the spongecake family!)

EJ-Approved English name: The UFO cake

Direct translation: Okay I won’t even try.

People literally spend hours making this sweet, thick and supple delicacy! It gets it’s stickiness from the the mixture of glutinous rice flour, palm sugar and coconut milk. You can also find this in durian flavour, which is very cool (a big fan of durians here – all hail the king!)

EJ-approved English name: Sticky Rice Candy

Kuih Batang Buruk
Direct translation: The ugly sticks

It resembles a stick and it can leave your fingers feeling sticky (but sweet and delicious!) – it tastes like sweet nutty wheat because it’s made from wheat flour mixed and rolled with other flours and coated with green bean powder! It got it’s name because the green from the filling makes it look like it’s a very ugly stick (but I believe all sticks are beautiful!)

EJ-approved English name: Chalky sticks

Kuih Karas
Direct translation: None – the word “karas” is already associated with this kuih, so use it even in English!

Like me, how the kuih looks is intricate and complex (lol!). It’s sweet and comes in many sizes. They make it by frying rice flour with sugar. Also like the Makmur, sometimes quite fragile so be careful when you bite into one!

EJ-approved English name: Sweetnest (Because It somewhat resembles a bird’s nest and it is full of sweetness!)