Monday, April 21, 2014

YummY! - Nyonya Kueh Cakes @ Baba Charlie

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                            YummY!                                              Jotaro's Food Review          
Malacca City, Malacca, Malaysia - April, 2014
We are down for some cycling in Malacca on invitation from Chris, a friend who is local to Malacca. On our first day we would be cycling from town to Tanjung Bidara, a beach resort about 40 km. from town.
Chris thought it would be a great idea to have a picnic lunch at the beach, so here we are at Baba Charlie to take-away some authentic Nyonya cakes (or in Malay called Nyonya Kueh) for our later beach fun.

Photo of my grandmother, Khoo Kooi Chiew & great-grandfather, Khoo Teng Khit (circa 1910)
I come from a Baba-Nyonya lineage and am thus rather passionate when it comes to its food. My grandmother Khoo Kooi Chiew was a grand old Nyonya lady steeped in traditional values, AND she made Nyonya Kueh to sell too! This makes me quite critical about the quality of Nyonya food, so do excuse me if I do pass some judgements of my own here.

Nyonya Kebayas on display at a shop in Malacca.
Malacca like its counter part George Town has been included into the UNESCO Heritage Sites listing. Both are on the cross-roads of early days trading, with Chinese, Thai, European, Indian & Malay culture coming in to blend through the centuries into a interesting pot-pourri. This included the influence on food, so from there we have Nyonya food part of which are the Nyonya Kueh.

Baba Charlie has a good and comprehensive range of Nyonya Kueh & cookies; from Pulut Tai-Tai (or some call Kaya Kueh), Kueh Buluh, Kueh Bengka Ubi Kayu, etc.

More types of kueh : Kueh Koci, Pulut Udang, Ang Koo ("red tortoises"), etc.

The shop operates on a deli-style concept, with much of the dry preparation work open for viewing by patrons. The more tedious work is behind the scene - such as steaming, preparation of rice dough, frying, etc.
Those boxes with roses are packages of Ang Koo, Nasi Kunyit (tumeric glutinious rice), red hard-boiled eggs for a baby's full moon celebration.

Workers busy with their work. The one on the left is packing Nasi Kunyit with some curry. On the right Another is packing up or-kueh (steamed yam cake).

This Nyonya auntie here is wrapping up Kueh Lapis. She reminds me so much of my grannie - warm, friendly and chatty.

Photos of some of the kueh follows; here is where I will get critical, my Baba fussiness rearing its head.
The Kueh Lapis or in Hokkien called Kau Chan Kueh (meaning nine-layer cake). These are made by steaming watery glutinous rice mix in alternating white and red layers.
1. The kueh of Malacca tends to be be more dark reddish (this applies to their Ang Koo also), whereas the Penang ones are lighter bright red.
2. The layers have to be about the same thickness; the ones here are almost there except for the bottom layer which is thicker.
3. There are only eight-layers here! My Grannie would definitely have kicked up a fuss.
4. These days the edges are straight cut. Back then the kueh is cut with a serrated knife, giving them wavy and beautiful edges.

Delicious looking Or Kueh or Steamed Yam (Taro) Cake. Looks good don't they? But a lot of hard work has gone into making them. First dried prawns are fired with some garlic and shallots. Then these are slowly stir fried in a kuali until the watery rice dough mix becomes thicker and sticky in constituency. The mix is then put into a tray and steamed until cooked; grounded ground-nuts, more fried prawns and shallots are added on top. Mmmmmm...mmm mouth watering!

Onde-onde being boiled, when cooked they will float up to the surface. These are made by moulding rice dough around a core of Gula Melaka. The green colour here seems to be from artificial dye instead of from the natural pandan leaf juice thus lacking in a bit of that strong pandan aroma and its slight bitter underlying taste. These ones are about an inch in diameter, whereas the Penang ones are smaller at about 1/2-inch in diameter.

The boiled glutinous balls are sieved out and covered with grated coconut flesh. Onde-onde should be eaten warmly fresh OR put them into the fridge to chill them down. Cold or warm they are nice.

A colorful blue-white mix Pulut Tai Tai. The glutinous rice was just nicely steamed so that they are not too soft, the blue colour seems to be too dark. I am not sure whether they are using the natural Butterfly Pea Flower as dye (which in that case would be a slightly lighter blue) or artificial colouring. The Kaya (egg jam) is another story, it's too watery.

The Pulut Udang is steamed glutinous rice infill with a mix of stir-fired grated coconut and prawns.
I love these, the infill had just the right amount of ground white paper to give it that spicy kick!

Our stash of Nyonya goodies for our picnic at Tanjung Bidara - Pulut Tai-Tai, Pulut IntiPulut UdangPineapple Jam Cookies and Dodol.
Nyonya Kueh may look simple but generally they are quite tedious to make, involving several stages of preparation - frying of ingedients, mixing of rice dough, moulding, steaming, etc.
Although the kueh from Baba Charlie is not as good as my Grannie's they are still one of the best around; authentic and YummY!

Address: 72, Jalan Tengkera Pantai 2,
75200 Melaka, Malaysia.
Tel: 019-6662907 / 06-2847209 / 06-2842907

GPS : 2.203439, 102.231537
Hours: 9:30 am to 3:15 pm (Closed on Thursdays)

Related Blogs:

Submarine Museum @ Malacca
Klebang Beach, Malacca : April 2014
Visiting this educational submarine museum rekindled my old salt of the sea spirit.

You may also like :

YummY! - Penang Chendul @ Penang Road, Penang

Malaysia - Street Art of George Town, Penang : December 3rd 2012

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