If you are visiting Singapore or if you have recently moved here, you should know that the city-state is home to some of the best cuisine in the world. Food lovers from across the globe come to Singapore to taste the unique style of dishes that have arisen from a diverse community of different cultures. With unique teas, coffees, spices, and meats, the island has a variety of culinary treasures that are exploding with flavour. One of the more exclusive treats on the island is known as kueh. Kueh refers to a small, usually bite-sized, sweet and savoury treat that is served as a snack during the day. Many hotel restaurants in Singapore serve kueh, and you can enjoy them with a cup of tea or as afters. Here’s a guide to enjoying these tasty morsels:
Kueh tutu – Also known as putu piring, this beloved treat is celebrated as a real example of the communities that have come together to call Singapore home. The snack is served like a dumpling, and is filled with mashed peanuts that have been sweetened with brown sugar. Rice flour is used for the outer shell, and it is pressed into a tight pocket around the filling, then steamed for a short amount of time at a high temperature. Another popular version of this treat is to fill the dumpling with shredded coconut and red sugar, a sweet flavour made from ginger, and served on a deep-green pandan leaf. Some restaurants are interested in exploring new versions of kueh tutu, and now serve them with chocolate chips in the center for a special sweet-treat.
Kueh lapis – This colourful delicacy comes in two distinct ways. One way to prepare the small, rectangular treat is by cooking several different layers of thin cake and stacking them all together in a decorative fashion. Another way to experience kueh lapis is the nonya version, which is steamed and gelatinous. Both are delicious, and if you like one, you should try the other.
Pandan cake – Popular as a dessert, pandan cake is easily recognisable with its distinct green colour. Pandan is a tropical, aromatic plant that thrives in regions like Singapore, and this kueh is an all-time favourite among the locals. Pandan kaya kueh is a slight variation of this cake, and is served with layers of egg-based icing, pandan leaves, and coconut milk.
Kueh salat nonya – The local Malays refer to this as puteri salat, which roughly translates to princess salad. Rich and colourful, this cake has two layers. One layer is made with pandan and coconut kaya, and the bottom layer is made with rice. The layers are easily distinguishable, and this kueh is both green and white.
Love letters – Also known among natives as sapit, this kueh is different from the others on this list. They are made from flour, coconut milk, eggs, and sugar, and offer a crisp texture to snack on. Crunchy and cylindrical, this treat is popularly referred to as a love letter because it looks like a rolled-up letter and tastes sweet. If you are looking for something light and enjoyable, this is the perfect kueh for you.
The best way to enjoy a different country is tasting the native food, and kueh is the perfect treat after a long day in the tropical sun. With influences from Chinese, Malay, and Indonesian cultures as well as the fantastic Halal set lunches in Singapore, these delicious snacks are a great way to experience the local culture in Singapore. If you are looking for an afternoon activity or a special setting after tea, visit a hotel restaurant for some kueh. Not only are they visually striking, they are extraordinarily flavourful too.