One thing about traditional kuih is they are wrapped in biodegradable wrappings. Unlike plastic, these wrappings are far more eco-friendly.The most popular wrapping is banana leaf. In Sarawak however there is an alternative wrapping; the young nipah leaves. It is not green in color but yellow. These are some traditional Sarawakian kuih wrapped in banana leaves and young nipah leaves.
This ‘kuih’ is called ‘basong’. Made from glutinous rice. The rice is first steamed and then put into banana leaf in cone shape. It will then be cooked again by boiling them. Eaten with grated coconut and sugar. Very simple. Usually consumed as breakfast, some prefer it hot and quite a lot like of people like to eat it cold by keeping them in the fridge.
This one is known by the name ‘sekupau’ in Melanau. In Sarawakian Malay, it is ‘ketupo’. Made from only grated coconut, glutinous rice flour, water and salt. The mixture is put in young nipah leaves and then boiled. Can be eaten on its own or with gula apong (palm sugar from ‘nipah’ tree).
’Pulut panggang’ is glutinous rice with coconut milk wrapped in banana leaves and then grilled over smoldering coal. Much like ‘lemang’, only smaller, no bamboo is needed for the grilling and less time is needed for it to be ready. We simply called it ‘panggang’ and it is typical breakfast eaten on its own, with sugar or with condensed and sweetened milk but personally I like it on its own. The process of making this particular ‘kuih’ is complex and the task of wrapping it in banana leaves is not for impatient people. When done correctly, the wrapped ‘panggang’ will look like a work of art. Used to be 20 sen a piece, now with raising price of the raw material (coconut-recently the price has increased to RM1.80 per coconut and glutinous rice) even 30 sen a piece is pushing it. A project by my mother and a neighbor for my aunt.
Sarawakian Malay calls this kuih ‘celorot’. Melanau calls it ‘segurut’. It is a mixture of glutinous rice flour, coconut milk (or water), grated coconut, ‘gula apong’ and ‘air kapur’. Air kapur is lime stone paste (the one eaten with betel leaves and areca nut) thinned with water. It is not really a wrapped kuih since the casings are made beforehand from young leaves of nipah tree. The flour mixture is then poured into the casings before steamed. How to eat it? Unwrapped the casing to reveal the sweet kuih inside. The brown color of the kuih is given by gula apong which is dark brown in color. Tastes good when eaten hot, but even better fridge-cold (just my preference).
This next one is savory instead of sweet. I am not really sure what do they call it in Melanau even though it is a Melanau dish. I came to know the existence of this food just recently. My search on the Internet has led me to believe that its name is ‘Ti’ong’. You can read the post about Ti’ong here. The post is written in Malay. The ingredient and preparation is similar so this must be it. Raw sago is stuffed inside young nipah leaves and then filled with minced prawn flavored with salt and white pepper. It is then grilled on hot coal until the prawn is cooked. It is best eaten hot because if left cold, it will harden and becomes chewy. The trick to make it stays soft even when cold is to mixed grated coconut with the raw sago. However , I find this trick makes it less tasty.