Sometimes it gets a little lonely and sad.
I finally bought a madeleine mould for myself. My intention was to use it for madeleine and kuih bahulu. Kuih bahulu is a lighter malay version of this petite buttery french cake without the butter.
For breakfast today I decided to make some madeleine. They were so quick and easy to make. I love the contrast of the slightly sweet, crisp exterior and the moist, buttery sponge on the inside. I think they taste best when still slightly warm.
So I woke up really early today so that I could catch a ride from Joe to go to the Asian store. The newly found enthusiasm that I have to explore Malay cooking has led to serious trolling of several Malay food blogs.
Lo and behold, I spotted a reliable looking Kuih Koleh-Koleh recipe. Kuih Koleh-Koleh is a complex, elaborate Malay dessert. Well, at least in my mind. Koleh-Koleh consists of a brown sticky custard that has a caramel, nutty, creamy flavour. And is topped with Tahi Minyak which literally means Oil Shit. What it really is, is coconut milk reduced till the point it curdles and turn a dark chocolate colour and releases coconut oil. The curdled crumbly goodness that remains is known as Tahi Minyak and is sprinkled on top of the steamed brown sticky custard. Tahi Minyak is like the icing on a Malay cake. It adds a new dimension to this humble looking steamed cake. Yum! Just thinking about it makes me salivate. Not quite sure what it is doing to fellow readers who have never had these little bits of brown goodness. Oily shit might not stimulate your salivary glands like it does for me.
You might notice that I swing from calling it a custard then a cake. “Make up your mind already,” you say. Which is it? It really isn’t a cake or a custard. More like a cross between the two. It is complicated like that.
Anyway, it was not Kuih Koleh-Koleh that led me to the Asian store this morning. Kuih Koleh-Koleh just seemed a little intimidating to me. I am merely an amateur with very little experience in making Malay kuih despite being Malay. I only know how to eat them. I later came across a seemingly less complicated recipe from a Kuih Lapis Kacang Hijau (Layered Green Bean Cake). It looked delicious and manageable. And I don’t have to deal with making the extra component of making the Tahi Minyak which require laborious stirring of the coconut milk for an extended period of time.
So Kuih Lapis Kacang Hijau it is.
When I got to the Asian store, the Malaysian/Indonesian section was bare! I don’t see the green bean flour that I thought I saw a month ago. All that was left was hoon kwee flour that is split mung bean flour. I was disappointed and panicked for a second. I scurried to the Thai/Vietnamese flour section. No Green Bean Flour!!!!
As I wandered around the different aisles I spotted Moi-Moi Akara Bean flour. I pondered for a minute. Maybe this might work. For some reason I thought it looked like green bean flour although I don’t even quite know what green bean flour is suppose to look like. I took comfort in the fact that the packaging looked Filipino-ish. Most Filipinos are Malay by race and there are little overlaps in our language, food and physical appearance.
So Moi-Moi Akara Bean flour it is.
As I stood at the check-out line I asked the Vietnamese cashier? “Do you know what kind of Bean this Bean flour is made of?” ” I think it is Mung bean (a.ka. green bean). It usually is.” She sounded confident in her guess. I got the semi-confirmation that I so badly wanted.
I googled Moi-Moi Akara bean flour when I got home.
Apparently Moi-Moi Akara Bean flour is used in Nigerian cuisine. NOT Filipino as I had guessed. I am still not a 100% sure what bean it is made of but there is a mention of black eye peas. So I figured how bad can it turn out.So I chance it.
The first funky feeling I got was when I added the coconut milk mixture to the flour. Earthy, raw soya bean smell started to emit from the mixture. I thought it just needs to be cooked. It will smell better. And as I steamed it layer by layer, it smelled and looked like it was coming together.
I was optimistic but cautious.
I let it cool. I unmoulded it. Took a deep breath and cut into it.
Hmm..pretty gross. Not quite what I had in mind. Gummy. Muddy. Brought me back to that one time I added a wheat grass shot into my orange-carrot juice at Jamba. Overall, YUCK!
I know now that Moi-Moi Akara bean flour is not the same as green bean flour.
Upon closer inspection of the packaging of the Moi-Moi Akara Bean flour. Smack in the middle was a map of Africa. There was also a picture of a mud hut with a lady in a Gomesi pounding some beans.
I feel stupid. I am also disappointed. This sucks. I failed. Into the bin it goes.
I blame BING BONG BANG!!
I won’t give up. Will get it right the next time round. And the next time it will be Kuih Koleh-Koleh, Oily Shit and all!
On our lame trip to Batam I found a Kuih Rose mould. I was so excited! I made some Kuih Rose today. Kuih Rose is also known as Kuih Goyang. Goyang means shake in Malay. When you dip the batter covered mould in the hot oil you have to gently shake it for a few seconds so that it will release itself from the mould and continue to cook in the hot oil. The traditional shape of these cookies is a simplified rosette. However, today one can find moulds in all shapes and sizes, ranging from butterfly-shape to plain rectangles.
Joe was not crazy about the cookies. He even suggested I should dip it in chocolate and I did. It made it even funkier.
Kuih rose is sweet, light and crispy. I personally think that it makes a fantastic teatime snack.
Upon returning from my motherland, Singapore, I had vowed to commit myself to cooking Malay food at least 2-3 times a week. As much as I enjoy making breads and pastries and catering to Joe’s American taste buds, I worry about the Malay culture and heritage in Singapore. I worry that someday Malays will eventually be eradicated from Singapore’s history. From discriminatory policies to the mass import of Chinese nationals to artificially expand the Chinese majority to simply labeling Malay dishes Nyonya dishes. The list of racially biased atrocities goes on. I fear the day would come when the world would forget that Malays are the indigenous people of Singapore. I shudder at the thought that my generation and the future generations would never hear the real history of Singapore and that the stories of the struggle of the Malay people would forever remain untold. I sometimes feel a little helpless. I wonder if merely lamenting about it online would make any difference. I figured the very least one could do was to educate the people who cared enough to know and listen. The very least I could do is to do my small part in keeping Malay dishes alive and authentically Malay. Despite living in the United States for the last 6 years, I hold on tight to my Singaporean citizenship. It would be easy to walk away and withdraw my CPF funds but the moment I lose my citizenship, the already faint voice of Malay Singaporeans gets a little fainter. I cannot let that happen.
So I embark on my Malay culinary adventure with Roti Kirai also known as Roti Jala. Roti means bread and Jala means net. Roti Jala is essentially a lacy coconut crepe. It is usually accompanied with beef or chicken curry. Malay curry has as much heat as Indian curry, the only difference is that Malay curry goes a little easier on the other aromatics and hence is a little less intense and pungent. Other alternative accompaniments include savory blazing sambal or a sweet twist of serawa (tasty concoction of coconut milk, palm sugar and screwpine leaves).
Just like making any crepes or pancakes, the first few ones are always a mess.But once the pan was seasoned enough the crepe came out petty decent. My batter and technique could use a little improvement as I am a little rusty when it comes to Malay dishes.However, the crepe turned out light yet creamy and it balances with the heat from the chicken curry. Roti Jala is such a dainty and delicate looking crepe, yet it comprises of such humble ingredients. Just like Orang Melayu, almost a little fragile, yet determined and genuinely possess humility. Lovely