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Nyonya Kuih

Nyonya kuih are bite sized treats we have over tea or during breakfast. They can be sweet or savory. Even though they are small, they take a lot of time and effort to make. Hand made kuihs are the best. Nothing can beat these little gems. Sweetened with palm sugar, garnished with grated fresh coconut and colorful to boot, most people simply succumb to their charm.


nyonya kuih
Succulent Nyonya Kuih.

The Nyonyas who are masters of making these kuihs sometimes take up to three days to prepare the ingredients.

For example, the rice flour they use had to be made from scratch. Rice grains had to be soaked overnight, then, grounded using a stone mill and then drained overnight, hung to dry in a piece of muslin cloth.

That is not all, the shape and texture are carefully guarded with the right temperature for steaming some kuih.

Colorings are made of natural herbs, leaves and flowers. Artificial colors are frowned upon. Not only they are healthier, natural colorings also bring together nice fragrance too.

Nyonya kuih

I got sometimes request from some people to learn Nyonya kuih. I always tell them to try making it at home first, using the cookbook. After several trials and errors, only then they are welcome to my class for a more intensive lesson. The thing is, one has to appreciate the effort that goes into making kuih. Otherwise, they may think it is easy to make them.

nyonya kuih

For your pleasure, I include a nyonya kuih recipe here. Try it out and let me know if it turns out well.


Yam Cake (Wu Tow Ko)

I came across yam cake when I first started working at a factory in Penang. At first, it looked weird, a kuih garnished with dried prawns and fried shallots? However, after tasting it, there is no turning back. It became one of my favorite kuihs!

Ingredients for making Steamed Yam Cake:

  • 900g yam (peeled and cut into small chunks)
  • 250 g rice flour (sieve it first before using)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp five spice powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp grounded white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp borax (air abu)
  • 1/2 cup fried shallots
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 5 pips of garlic
  • 1/2 cup shitake mushroom (if you use dried mushroom, soak them first, then slice finely


Chopped spring onion, chopped fresh red chilies and dried shrimps.


  • Steam yam until it is soft, mash it finely.
  • Mix in water and rice flour, stir well to remove lumps.
  • Add fried shallots and borax, stir well to a smooth consistency.
  • In a wok or a frying pan, heat up cooking oil and saute chopped garlic.
  • Add in mushrooms, white pepper and five spice powder.
  • Lower heat and add in the batter
  • Keep on stirring till all lumps are gone and it starts bubbling. (May take a lot of effort after a while the batter will be thickened).
  • Pour into a round greased baking tray. Then steam for almost one hour over high heat.
  • Remove the tray and let cool.
  • Sprinkle garnishing and cut using a sharp, wet knife.

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