Monday, May 3, 2010
Cakes ever so colorful and sweet serve as wonderful culinary introduction to Malaysia
By Nancy T. Lu
Kuih or cakes, desserts ever so colorful and sweet on the buffet of a traditional Malaysian culinary celebration, have always made homemakers who love them wonder how they are prepared.
Madame Zawiah Ahmad made a sweet comeback at the International Food Culture Exchange coordinated by Pallas Chen at the Eslite Bookstore Xinyi on April 30 to demonstrate two Nyonya Kuih or cake recipes, namely Kuih Lapis (layered cake) and Kuih Ketayap (pancake wrapped around palm sugar and coconut).
The first recipe required the mixing of the all-purpose flour, rice flour and starch/tapioca flour. Sugar and water were added, Then came the coconut milk and a few drops of vanilla essence.
Dato’ Abdullah Mohd Salleh, president of the Malaysian Friendship and Trade Center in Taipei and de facto Malaysian ambassador, did not just stand watching his wife do the cooking demonstration. He showed that he could also stir the batter properly without fumbling at the task.
Madame Zawiah proceeded to divide the mixed ingredients into two parts. A few drops of red rose essence went into one portion to create a pinkish color. The other part remained white. Brown sugar could be used to create chocolate color batter while pandan leaves could be introduced for a yellow outcome. In short, a beautiful rainbow of colors could end up on the dessert table.
The Malaysian homemaker in the spotlight then poured some pink batter into a tray in a steamer. After five minutes, she poured white batter over the pinkish one. Another round of steaming lasted five minutes. This went on a few times until several layers with alternating colors had been created. Once the final layer had been added, the cake was steamed for 20 to 30 minutes. At last the cake inspired by the Malaysian flag was ready to be sliced and enjoyed.
The Kuih Ketayap recipe called for the preparing of the coconut filling first. Dried coconut, brown sugar as well as water and vanilla essence were the required ingredients. Madame Zawiah melted the brown sugar first. She then introduced the dried coconut. She cooked everything slowly, finally leaving everything to cool off.
As for the thin pancake, ingredients included all-purpose flour, egg, water, salt and green essence. The green batter poured on a non-stick pan should not be overcooked to prevent this slightly brown final wrap from breaking when rolled around the coconut filling, according to Madame Zawiah.
Among those who turned up to watch the cooking demonstration were Margaret Madison, the visiting mother of Deputy Director Eric Madison of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), and Isaura Novelo, wife of the Belize ambassador.
The event turned into a most pleasant afternoon tea on the third floor of the Eslite Bookstore Xinyi. Malaysian white coffee was served along with the delicious cakes.
Malaysia as a country endowed with beautiful beaches, great highlands, verdant jungles, modern cities, charming countryside and a spectrum of colorful cultures was presented also on this occasion. Boxes of Malaysian white coffee served as prizes during an.on-the-spot quiz about the Southeast Asian country.
Cooking demonstrations featuring cuisines of countries around the world are held regularly at 3 p.m. on the last Friday of every month. The public is invited.