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Dec 9, 2021
Supriya Sivabalan

7 Accidentally Vegan Malaysian Kuih


We all love some good kuih every now and then. Pair it with a cup of Kopi O’ or Teh Tarik and it’s the best teatime treat to keep you fueled.

Did you know that most kuih you devour is vegan? Vegan foods are foods that are free from all animal products. This brings about the common misconception that a vegan diet involves only bland, one-dimensional flavours.

Well, surprise! Many of these popular, traditional kuih-muih that we see in markets and roadside stalls abide by the strict law of plant-based foods. Now, just to name a few...

1. Kuih Lapis
Intricately placed layers (Source: Time Out)

Peeling off this yummy kuih layer by layer is the best way to eat it. It’s called kuih lapis for a reason! Extremely soft in texture with a sweet, aromatic flavour - this bad boy is a crowd favourite. This kuih has many multicoloured variations, making it an adorable, picturesque snack for your dining table.

Ingredients: Tapioca Flour, Rice Flour, Water, Sugar, Pandan Leaves, Coconut Milk, Colouring

2. Ang Ku Kuih
Stunning orange of the Ang Ku (Source: Time Out)

Elegantly placed atop a single aromatic pandan leaf, the stunning Ang Ku Kuih is sure to catch anyone’s attention with its adorable turtle-shell pattern and bright orange skin. Occasionally, there are other colours used to depict the Ang Ku Kuih too, including green, blue, and purple. Similarly, a variety of fillings can be expected of this kuih, from the typical mung bean paste to roasted peanuts.

Ingredients: Glutinous Rice Flour, Sugar, Salt, Colouring, Cooking Oil, Pandan Leaves, Mung Bean Paste/Peanuts/Red Bean Paste

3. Vadai
Crispy golden-brown vadai (Source: Chitra’s Food Book)

This golden-brown savoury treat is sure to tantalize your taste buds with its umami flavours. Best eaten fresh off the stove, vadai has an extremely crunchy exterior with a soft, fluffy texture on the inside as you bite into it. It can be eaten on its own but is also great when dipped into dhal or chutney that is commonly served at all Indian restaurants. Have it alongside a cup of masala or chai tea for the ultimate experience.

Ingredients: Black Gram, Salt, Water, Oil, Peppercorn, Green Chillies, Onions, Curry Leaves, Cumin Seeds, Ginger

4. Onde-Onde
Little balls of sweet goodness   (Source: Wandercooks)

Coated with grated coconut that provides a striking contrast against its green skin, onde-onde is a sweet treat made for coconut-lovers. Nothing beats the syok feeling of biting into an onde-onde and having the sweet, warm, gula melaka coconut filling burst into your mouth while it’s chewy pandan skin perfectly complements the sugar rush. There’s no way you won’t go in for a second piece!

Ingredients: Glutinous Rice Flour, Pandan Juice, Grated Coconut, Salt, Gula Melaka

5. Lepat Pisang
Wrapped in pandan leaves to preserve freshness & aroma (Source: Wandercooks)

Neatly packaged in a fragrant banana leaf, this simple sweet snack is perfect for on-the-go hunger pangs. The aroma that exudes from the banana leaf as you unravel the kuih is sure to tingle your taste buds. When steamed to perfection, lepat pisang is soft yet chewy with a strong banana flavour that marries beautifully with its flour-based exterior and coconut shavings.

Ingredients: Ripe Bananas, Sugar, Wheat Flour, Rice Flour, Gula Melaka, Grated Coconut, Salt

6. Kuih Talam
Sweet against salty (Source: Time Out)

The sweet and salty combo in desserts is always a decadent pair, and Kuih Talam proves just that! As you sink your teeth into its soft body, the hit of salted coconut cream complemented by the sweet pandan creates a “WOW” factor like no other. No matter how many times you’ve had this delicious delicacy, the interesting flavour combo will always take you by surprise - in the best way possible.

Ingredients: Rice Flour, Green Pea Flour, Tapioca Flour, Sugar, Pandan Juice, Salt, Coconut Milk, Water

7. Pulut Inti
Sweet “nasi lemak”  (Source: Time Out)

Pulut Inti can be dubbed as the sweet version of the nasi lemak given its uncanny resemblance. This pyramid-shaped delight holds a world of flavour with coconut-infused lemak rice and is topped off with a delicious gula melaka coconut filling. Wrapped in a banana leaf to trap all flavours and fragrance, pulut inti is eaten in a similar fashion to nasi lemak whereby the rice is eaten together with the filling to provide a burst of complementary flavours in your mouth.

Ingredients: Glutinous Rice, Salt, Coconut Milk, Pandan Leaf, Banana Leaf, Gula Melaka, Grated Coconut, Sugar, Water

Move aside acai bowls and overnight oats, Malaysian kuih has been around for the longest time and they fit right into the vegan conversation.

Writer’s disclaimer: Please be cautious when purchasing any of these sweet treats from stores around you as there may exist variations which include non-vegan ingredients. To stay on the safe side, feel free to use this list and follow all linked recipes to make your own, 100% plant-based kuih!