Kuehs – a broad term referring to bite-sized cakes, cookies, pastries, puddings, and dumplings – are a very affordable sweet or savoury snack found across Singapore and most of South-east Asia.
While the word has been phoneticised and spelt differently from country to country, it is widely accepted that the word “kueh” was derived from the Chinese word 粿, which stood for rice cake. Today, kuehs can be easily found across all of Singapore, and have been made by the Malays, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians and Peranakans for generations, intricately woven within our social fabric.
Back in the day, the best and most intricate kuehs were usually served during festivals and special occasions as they were labour intensive, and made from recipes passed down through the generations. However over the years, rapid industrialisation has resulted in the gradual demise of traditional handmade kueh.
Luckily for us, these small family, as well as home-based, businesses are willing to share their labours of love, so we hope you’ll be able to satisfy your kueh-vings with these recommendations.
Painstakingly made by Maureen Nguee, the piece de resistance here is her handmade pandan kueh salat, where fresh pandan juice and coconut milk are combined to create a luscious kaya custard, sitting atop butterfly pea-dyed glutinous rice. Her other delightful creations include gula melaka kueh salat with Mao Shan Wang durian puree (who knew this combination could work?!), bingka ubi, variations of the traditional sugee cake, kueh kosui, and two types of smooth kaya (pandan coconut and salted gula melaka).
The Ang Ku Kueh Hut
This small business selling ang ku kueh was established by the younger generation of a kueh-making family who didn’t want traditional recipes to disappear completely. They’ve also taken pains to develop new fillings to cater to both the young and old. Flavours sold here include green bean, red bean, peanut, yam, hazelnut and pistachio, all generously packed into a delicate skin. Seasonal specials can also be found on the menu, such as a blue pea durian version. The ang ku kuehs are sold in boxes of five or 10, and are also bundled with other goodies such as red eggs and kueh salat, perfect for baby full month celebrations.
Kueh Ho Jiak
Set up and run by a mother-daughter pair, their signature item that propelled them to fame is their savoury-spicy hae bee hiam ang ku kueh, where spicy dried shrimps are encased in a yellow-purple ang ku kueh skin made of sweet potato. In fact, all of their ang ku kueh skins are made with five different types of sweet potato. They operate two stalls, both located in hawker centres, and other sweet treats on their extensive menu include heart-shaped, rainbow-coloured kueh lapis, puteri ayu, as well as sweet potato ondeh ondeh balls oozing with gula melaka.
One Kueh At A Time
One Kueh At A Time specialises in Teochew kueh, where delicate, translucent parcels are handwrapped daily by Nick Soon and Karen Kuah, the hardworking duo behind the quaint cafe located in the Pandan Loop industrial area. Here, silky smooth, gyoza-shaped rice flour dumplings have been stuffed to the brim with radish, gu chai (chives), carrot, alongside contemporary – and interesting – fillings such as bak kwa, hae bee hiam, and wok-smoked chicken. We also appreciate that you can choose to order these moreish dumplings steamed, or frozen, for enjoyment at a later time.
Nathasha Rahiman was previously a moneychanger, but due to the Covid-19 situation, was out of work. As such, she decided to learn to make Malay kueh from her grandmother, and began selling kueh kaswi and bakar lauk in August last year. She has since expanded her menu to include talam suji, puteri salat, kole kole, and kueh lapis. Large platters with a tasting portion of everything, or bigger orders for events and weddings, can also be accommodated. DM her on Instagram to order or for more details.
Where is your favourite place to get kueh? Share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org!