Monday, July 20, 2009

Asian Delights for Tea

When I was a little child, i once had a dream so vivid that i still remember to this day. A little old man was selling his sweet desserts in a small wooden box, (maybe approximately 3' wide x 1' deep x 1.5' high) that had been attached to the back of his old beaten down black framed bicycle (which might have been a tricycle. Whoever said dreams had to be logical?)

I even remember the colour of the wooden box, which was painted in uneven brushes and sweeps of azure deep blue. The tyres were worn and old just like the shirt and straw hat that he had on but that he had one of the most unforgettable, inviting and sincerest smile that could only have come from his heart. The same kind of smile that i have seen in mom, Ben, my children and all the people i have ever loved.

He had me drooling with my jaws gaping wide as he slid open the little wooden panel exposing the most magical and enchanting looking desserts that i had ever seen. As i did not have any money on me, he looked at me deeply, kindly and still wearing the same smile said that it was to be his treat and that i could choose one of anything i like from the grand array of display. Just one?

I never did make my pick. Now that i am a grown woman, I am quite certain that i still would not have been able to finalise on the pick if i had met the little old man again.

Which would yours have been, i wonder?

Rainbow Sago

Kuih Talam Pandan

Kuih Lapis Merah

Pulut Tatal

Pie-Tee (Top hat)

Alluringly gorgeous in presentation and rank high in the taste and flavor department, it’s undeniably one of the most inventive and vividly luscious Nyonya creations.

The two-step process starts with the making of the cases or “top hats” with a metal mold, follow by the cooking of julienned jicama, carrot, and chopped shrimp. These ingredients are then assembled to form these eye candy treats.

These munchies makes a killer hor’deurves in any parties, be it a Malaysian or Singaporean party or an all-American schmooze fest.

Sago dessert in coconut milk and palm sugar

Kuih Tako


Kuih Talam


Kuih Dadar


Kuih Tapai Nyonya

Kuih Jade

Mua Chi Kuih
(or sometimes also known as Japanese Mochi)

Pulut Inti Kelapa

These are commonly known as "kuih" and the assortments of the multi coloured and sweet flavoured snack items in the Malay Archipelago. They are easily available and are usually a tea time favourite for both the young and old.

They are in delightfully delectable bite sized pieces that is usually accompanied with a mug of "Tea Tarik" or "Pulled Tea". It is tea with condensed milk and best when it is frothy, airy and bubbly from the process of 'pulling'. Or one can also opt for the local black coffee, with or without milk.

In almost all kuihs, the most common flavouring ingredients are grated coconut (plain or flavoured), coconut cream (thick or thin), pandan (screwpines) leaves and gula melaka (palm sugar, fresh or aged). Their base and texture are built on a group of starches namely rice flour, glutinous rice flour, glutinous rice and tapioca. Two other common ingredients are tapioca flour and green bean (mung bean) flour (sometimes called "green pea flour" in certain recipes). They play a most important part in giving kuihs their distinctive soft, almost pudding-like, yet firm texture.

For most kuihs there is no single "original" or "authentic" recipe. Traditionally, making kuih was the domain of elderly grandmothers, aunts and other women-folk, for whom the only (and best) method for cooking was often replied to be in "agak agak" (approximation).

They would instinctively take handfuls of ingredients and mix them without any measurements or any need of weighing scales. All is judged by its look and feel, the consistency of the batter and how it feels to the touch.

Each family holds its own traditional recipe as well as each region and state. Though each may be called by other names, one is likely to find various similar versions of kuih in neighbouring countries, such as Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, and Indonesia.

Have a great week ahead all ! Be sweet, be safe.. as always. :)



Sara Williams said...

An amazing blog, wonderful pictures and so much information, I didn't realise that food could look so gorgeous! No wonder you couldnt decide which one to have. Thank you so much for sharing x

Rikkij said...

Fel-oddly, I found myself attracted to the box. The colour, azure blue. the treats all look wonderful. I always choose wrong. I would ask you to choose for me, trusting you. ~rick

Walking on Sunshine... said...

I can honestly say I have never heard of any of these desserts, but they look really yummy! Have a great week also!

SILVER said...

eeeeow...scream. Won;t someone just hit me on my head? I had released my draft post by mistake!!

anyway- sorry if it sounded like a kindi essay earlier. (it probably still is..;0

Thanks Sara , Rick and WOS for dropping by.

(Rick- i still can't pick. sorry. It's all or nothing for me ;)

RCUBEs said...

Those look delicious! I just woke up and sipping coffee. Those snacks sound good with coffee. Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Now that is some beautiful food. Asians continue to corner the market on food presentation and packaging. Absolutely fantastic.

vanilla said...

Oh, my! Your little azure blue box shall doubtless inhabit my dreams far into the future, for with such contents, how indeed, could one choose just one?

The little boy within me is clapping his hands in glee!

Thank you.

So blessed! said...

Oh my, Silver...I don't think I could choose either. Never heard of any of those in my lifetime. I believe I would just have to sit down with you, a cup of java, and my tastebuds ready and a pinch of this and a pinch of that would be my choice.
Hugs from Texas.

Anonymous said...

Exceptional! Wonderful telling of an enchanting dream. Left me very curious about the box. Why blue?

Daniel said...

This old man could be the "fairy" visiting you in the Malay folklore..LOL

I mean, that is possible, right?

Anonymous said...

Exceptional! Wonderful telling of an enchanting dream. Left me very curious about the box. Why blue?

(Hey,it's me. Kent)

SILVER said...

Hi hi!


madtexter- if you go down to the local market, it's just mad there. All the colours, choices!!

vanilla- ;P the grown woman now still thinks about the little old man with the blue box!!

so blessed- sounds wonderful!

daniel-hmm, could be. But aren't they the mystical creatures like elves who usually kidnaps the little children and disappear far into the forest?

kent- The blue was also heavily layered,like painted over many times crudely, like from some old cheap leftover paint .. it's infact the same colour as the wood panel of my childhood home.

good question. i think it was a colour i grew up seeing everyday in a prominent space and i never did like that colour very much.

laughingwolf said...

wow... no wonder you could not choose ONE! neither could i :D

Helen McGinn said...

Oh, Silver, how incredible do these look? I'm guessing they taste just as good. I have a little Asian delicatessen nearby where I go for flatbread or Indian sweets....the chap is very helpful and loves picking me a selection as I can never make up my mind...a bit like you in your dream. He totally undercharges me, I'm sure as I walk away with such a host of amazing looking delights. xx

Christy Lee said...

What a wonderful array of goodies! They look great. Thanks for sharing!

Petals and Pine

SILVER said...

wolf- ;D

These Indian mithai(sweets) are definitely a gourmet's dream and delight and a feast for the eyes!!

They rely heavily on ingredients such as sugar, milk and condensed milk but I do find them much too sweet for my liking.. (and already everyone i know is telling me how extremely sweet toothed i am.. imagine that!)

Christy- :)

BLUE STEEL said...

I love 'em.

laughingwolf said...

some i have tried, in various restaurants or from street vendors when i still lived in vancouver, bc... everything was deeeeelish! :)

SILVER said...

Wolf- Reeeeally? On the streets in Vancouver?

Or do you mean only maybe in Chinatown? CoZ if it's so easily available anywhere, i am moving there.

Blue Steel- ;) ok...maybe.

laughingwolf said...

chinatown and japan town... and during cultural festivals :)

Hypnotransformations said...

I am so hungry now! I think I would have chosen the Pie-Tee (Top hat).

Maria Berg said...

The blue one look interesting, MB

McCain said...

Lovely post. Cool photos. You have a very interesting story here. Nice!

DB said...

Those things look much too good to be legal.

Ellie Great said...

Great blog with nice information. Thank you

Phivos Nicolaides said...

They all look so delicious and tempting!!

Megan said...

Great pictures!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

LL said...

The box is life.

The choices are experiences.

How can one favor one over another?

SILVER said...

LL- i have never thought of it quite that way before. Maybe that's why it took me so long..

Life doesn't come with easy choices, does it. Also, we have all heard this careful what you wish for..

So..maybe what i did was best ;)

SILVER said...

Hi hi..

maria berg
mc cain
ellie great

;) thks .. and some nice tries there..

Coy said...

Such colorful treats ... we could all stand for a little more tea time delight in our hectic lives. Not sure I could have chosen just one either.
*** Coy ***

Bethany Wiggins said...

What a delicious blog. Your story at the beginning, it was lovely... I think you should turn it into a book. As for the picking, give me anything drenched in coconut milk. There is a little Thai restaurant by my mom's house that has the most amazing coconut soup. My stomach growls just thinking about it. Every time I drop in for a visit, I get a bowl of this soup. *Sigh*

Double-Dolphin said...

problem is most of this stuff looks so pretty, I'd feel sad eating em.

AnjuGandhi said...

first time on yur blog.
all of the yummy things looks just tooooooooo alluring.
forget diet,forget weight gain i want all of them
do share the secret recpie of atleast few of them

The Stylish House said...

Wonderful dream and interesting post. Some of these goodies look like some I saw when visiting Thailand.

SILVER said...

Coy-why do i know that feeling?

bethany- Thai Resto. My fave too!

Double-Dolphin- i'll be happy if you need some help.

Anju- ok. i will have to dig up on that.. no promises when.. but i will. ;)

Cathy- there are many versions. Asian desserts use pretty much the same ingredients- just a matter of colour and ingredient measurements for the texture purpose.

Katy ~ said...

I have never in my life seen such beautiful food.

mystic rose said...

They look absolutely delicious, allthe food you've presented here.

And that dream was vivid!! Its interesting, I remember some of my hcildhood dreams very vividly too. But none so kind as the person you dreamt of, I think :)

ical said...

look yummy!
most of those "kuih" ("Kue" in Indonesian) are familir to me, though they got a quite different name here.

Pacey said...

Your food shots are very inviting and as for those kuih, we have them here too only of different names and maybe on how we do them too. Great blog,thanks for visitng mine. Have a nice day!

fizzycat said...

Azure blue is always a winner in dreams, it makes dreams more meaningful somehow. I would not have a clue upon which to choose- they all look lovely.I would probably be looking and enjoying the beautiful colours till I woke up.

Monkey Man said...

Ran across your blog comments on Walking Man's page. Love the story and the tantilizing photos. It's no wonder you couldn't make a choice.

fizzycat said...

Thanks for comments.Those desserts are still looking difficult to decide upon, which one to have.A slice of life, perhaps.

SILVER said...

Katy- Come to my world. There are more .. ;)

mystic rose- oh i have some pretty nasty ones too.. but thank God.. mostly good ;)

ical- oh i remember, those kue when i was there. They are so pretty, and quite similar but TOO SWEET..omg!


fizzycat- yep..pretty much what i did..still thinking decades on..

monkey man- ;)

fizzycat- i think, that must be it. So be careful which one you pick..

Slices of Beauty... said...

Yummy, so inviting!

Cynthia said...

Hi, the colors of the various treats are amazing. Loving the

Sumandebray said...

Simply Out of this world!
One needs to have a ceremony to devour such delicacies. They simply cannot be eaten... These are art forms that command due respect and appreciation.
Is there a ceremony similar to Japanese Tea ceremony to devour those sweets and snacks?

Anonymous said... have me drooling as well. Those beautiful, colorful, and yummy desserts are making me crazy to have some!

shilpa said...

Its beautiful i could not have picked because all looked so delicious yum yum yum

Anonymous said...

Hmmm.. I wonder what's inside the spring rolls? The sweets look yummy. And the smile in the photo is so genuine :)

Indigo said...

Like an aladins cave, sweet treasure for the soul, I wish we could have scatch n sniff blog sites! My mouth is watering just from seeing the pictures...

M.M.E. said...

Oh my gosh! I never knew desserts could be so colorful! I grew up in a chocolate household so everything was brown or black. I can't even imagine what they all taste like, so I'd certainly have to taste them all before I chose. :)

boneman said...

(I am a pig, at times, but, the fact is, my brain just went diabetic looking at these wonderful foods!)

Jenn@Spejory said...

Such amazing photos of so many treats I would love to try! I found myself wondering how each would taste, when I have no standard to measure by. Beautiful and exotic little works of art!

ruma2008 said...

It is a colorful wonderful cake.

Marie Theron said...

Hi Silver, you are so sweet (no pun intended!) Thank you for visiting my art blog. I wish I could paint some of your lovely photographs, but then I would loose my thread!Regards from Cape Town!

Anonymous said...

I've learned a lot from this - I'd never seen any of these desserts. They look scrumptious and very labour-intensive. Something to be savoured. Delicious!

fizzycat said...

Just a wish for the holiday season, for you.

Eva O'Dell said...

It's amazing how beautiful food can be. They look enchanting.

Stephanie Fey said...

Such a pretty blog! How nice to have found it! Steph x

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

What beautiful, amazing dream. I love it when they're that vivid. And the food...oh my word, I'm awestruck. So gorgeous, and I do believe I'm drooling a little bit. Thank you thank you for sharing....

Shas said...

OOOhhhh....yummy food.

Burukutuk said...

Wow look very delicious.
Im from Asia
and there is one more is good to post

Annesphamily said...

This is a very lovely blog and food can be more than just something to cure our hunger. Thank you for sharing.

Annesphamily said...

The dream was so exquisitely told. I would love to have known the ending. But that blue box has me so intrigued!

McMGrad89 said...

MMMMMmmmm. I wish you would do more posts like these.

JOE TODD said...

If I were on a diet I would not like your post,but since I'm not I can savor each photo. Thank you

Anne Lyken-Garner said...

These are so attractive. I would close my eyes and just pick one, knowing what whatever I chose would still be perfect. Lovely blog.

A Joyful Chaos said...

Oooh everything looks really yummy!

anupama said...

Dear Silver,
Good Evening!
Amazing post and so colourful!
When we are asked about our choice,often we are confused!
Thanks for the wonderful treat!
SMILE is the best gift we can give to others!
Wishing you a wonderful and lovely night,

myletterstoemily said...

i can't think how you ever found my
boring, pedantic blog now that i have
seen your gorgeous, tantalizing one!

i could never choose from all those

Patience said...

Such amazing photographs -- I saw similar items on my trip to Thailand a few years back. Beautiful, colorful sweets -- and tempting treats everywhere we went! And I do mean everywhere, vendors, markets, shops, cafes -- I never saw so much food!

Brings back many wonderful memories....

Andreia Dias said...

Delicious images :)


SILVER said...

thanks to all you lovelies for your thoughts.

slices of beauty

SILVER said...

joe todd
a joyful chaos

.. Have a delicious day, all ;)

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

These are tantalizing to look at, but since I don't like the taste of sugar, if I were given a choice, I probably would select none!

BrasilBlogado said...

I found your cool blog visit mine too ... congratulations

Ania said...


busygoddess said...

I got a blog award & have to send it on. I just found your blog & feel that you should be one of the people I send the award to. Your blog is so beautiful. Enjoy!

Elisabeth said...

No wonder you describe food as a love affair, you present it so beautifully. Thanks, Silver.

Claudia said...

i only could decide which i'd eat first, then second, then....they all look fantastic!

Ann said...

Yum!... just their colors are enough to make me wanna eat them. And they're sweet too? Wow...what a treat:)

Anonymous said...

Me hungry,Bravo.

Mark Kreider said...

Wonderful, wonderful foods!! I am an avid cook but your displays surpass my creations be far! Bravo!

the walking man said...

Satay Fel, definitely the Satay! That just looked so good and warm.

SILVER said...

Elizabeth, oh.. isn't that a pity!

Brasil, ok.

Ania, thanks for dropping by.

busygoddess, Lovely! Thank you!

Elisabeth, thanks :)

Claudia, tough isn't it? I know!

SILVER said...

Ann, Yes, mostly.

Ian, ;D Why do i get that a lot?

Mark, I am flattered ;)

Walking man, Satay is an excellent choice! Have it in sweet and spicy thick peanut gravy sauce.. ooo, heavenly.

Mari Berkomunitas Di Faceblog said...

wow that's fantastic..nice pictures and so much information ;)

laughingwolf said...

hi sil... i'm back

new look, same old crap....

Ioana-Carmen said...

Hy sweetie! this is lovely! i was thinking, maybe we can follow each others blog?! :X

Professional Doctorate by Lora said...

Wow, so mouthwatering! I have learned that those delicacies contain coconut milk. It makes them for yummy. Their bright colors make me crave for those sweet tasting delicacies. I once tried those “puto” and it really tastes delicious that you might even forget your name. Just kidding, but it really tastes good.