Malaysian Monday 45: Kuih Talam

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hello all, today’s Malaysian Monday offering is a simple kuih called Kuih Talam. Kuih means a cakey snack/ savoury snack/ dessert and talam means tray, so it literally means “Tray Cake”.

There are two versions of this kuih, one is green and flavoured with pandan (screwpine) and the other version is brown. This brown version is flavoured with gula melaka (dark palm sugar) as well as pandan.

I’d found a recipe in a little book titled “Hot Favoruites Kueh” (published by elifestyle, no authors given), and it looked really simple. I halved the recipe and off I went. Attempt number one sort of worked, but was very sticky and even though I steamed the kuih for over half and hour, it wouldn’t firm up. I’m quite sure this happened either because I’d gotten distracted and forgot to halve something (most probably the sugar because it tasted extremely sweet), or I didn’t pre-cook the mixture long enough to thicken properly.

Attempt #1: Stuck on you

I tried again, but because I’d run out of gula melaka, I decided to substitute with brown sugar. This time, I made sure I paid attention when measuring, and cooked until the mixture was well thickened. It worked perfectly! The end result tasted very close to the gula melaka version except the colour wasn’t as warm/red.

Actually, I was very, very impressed with the flavour and texture of this kuih, mostly because I love brown sugar. And even though I’d kept the kuih in the fridge overnight to firm up before cutting, once it had come to room temperature, the texture was beautifully soft and sticky. Some kuih harden up and become quite inedible when refrigerated. 

In fact, I’d make this again, and set the brown layer in mini ramekins or custard cups, then top with thick coconut cream and serve as a dessert to end a spicy meal. It might make a good introduction to kuih for the uninitiated. Will let you know if it works (fingers crossed)☺.

Remember, if you’d like to be part of a Malaysian Monday, more details can be found here. This month (Muhibbah Malaysian Monday #2) , send all entries to Suresh (sureshchong[at]yahoo[dot]com) at 3 Hungry Tummies.

Have a lovely start to the week! To all my friends who begin fasting for Ramadan, "selamat menunaikan ibadah puasa".

Kuih Talam
(miniature version made in a teeny 10cm square cake pan. The original recipe (double this) is made in a 6in square pan. I always halve kuih recipes because I’m never sure if it will go down well with the rest of the household and I don’t want to get stuck eating it all myself ☺)

I use a 15ml tablespoon to measure, don’t worry, most kuih recipe don’t demand extreme precision, but feel free to use weight measurements if you prefer.

Base ingredients
1 heaped tbsp rice flour (10g)
2 heaped tbsp tapioca starch (20g)
2 heaped tbsp plain flour(20g)
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar (125g) (or use 75g gula melaka and 50g caster sugar)
175 ml water (100ml for the sugar, 75ml for the flour)
1 pandan leaf, knotted

Topping ingredients
1 heaped tbsp rice flour (20g)
1 heaped tsp tapioca starch (5g)
6 tbsp thick coconut milk (75ml)
2 ½ tbsp water (50ml)
generous pinch of salt .

To make the base:
Prepare a steamer (I just set a trivet in the base of a wok, and fill with water until it comes to just under the trivet). Oil the base and sides of the pan. I used sunflower oil.

Place brown sugar, pandan leaf and 100ml water into a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar has melted and is syrupy. Do not boil vigorously. Set aside. (If using the dark palm sugar, chop into bits to speed up melting time).

 Gula melaka, sugar and pandan leaf ready to be melted

In a large bowl, mix all the flours together and 75ml of the water. Mix well with a fork until smooth.

Remove the pandan leaf, then strain the sugar mixture into the flour mixture in the bowl. The straining removes any impurities in the palm sugar and also stray bits of pandan leaf. Stir well to mix, then pour back into the saucepan (I didn’t bother to rinse it out).

At this point, turn on the heat under the steamer so that it is ready to go. Place the saucepan with the base mixture over medium low heat and cook, stirring continuously until it thickens. The mixture tends to start getting lumpy and thickens all of a sudden. If this happens, quickly take the pan off the heat and just keep stirring until it becomes smooth. If one or two lumps remain, just strain the mixture through a sieve. The consistency should be like quite thick cream or thick pouring custard.

Pour this mixture into the prepared pan, then steam over medium heat for about 15 minutes until set. If you jiggle the pan, the mixture should not wobble. Gently touch the surface of the mixture to check, it should feel sticky but not liquid. Take care when removing the steamer lid so that condensation doesn’t drip on the surface of the kuih. Wipe down the condensation before replacing lid.

When the base is set, prepare the topping. Place all the topping ingredients in a clean saucepan and mix well, then cook over low heat until it thickens. This mix tends to thicken much quicker than the base. Use a spatula to turn out this mixture onto the top of the brown base in the pan. Place in the steamer and cook for another 15 minutes or so until set. (I actually prepared the base while making dinner, then made the topping after dinner, and it didn’t make any difference to the outcome to have the base sitting around for a while.)

Leave to cool completely before attempting to turn out or slice. Better if chilled first (cover the surface with cling wrap). To turn out, slide a thin spatula or knife all around the edges of the pan and turn over onto a cutting board. If it doesn’t come out, sit the pan in hot water for half a minute or so, wipe dry then turn out.

Serve cold or at room temperature.


cikmanggis said...

hi my dear Shaz..ini adalah my favourite kuih untuk berbuka puasa.Terima kasih :)sedapnya yum yum

3 hungry tummies said...

mmm which one do I prefer? Green or brown? I might have to make some to find out :) This is bringing back wonderful childhood memories.

Big BOys Oven said...

wow I hove those colours combination, I just melts me away with the dark golden brown! lovely!

Anh said...

That looks lovely. I once made this kuih with the coconut custard at the top and sicky rice at the bottom? Quite liked it :)

shaz said...

cikmanggis - terima kasih makcik. Selamat berpuasa!

3 hungry tummies - you know, until yesterday, I think the last time I had kuih talam may have been over 10 years ago!

Big BOys Oven - thank you so much.

Anh - ah, that is serimuka, the topping layer is pretty similar, but this one isn't as "eggy". If you liked serimuka, you might like this one :)

Juliana said...

Wow, I never had anything like sure sounds interesting and more tasty :-)

grace said...

what a friggin' amazing treat! the bottom ingredients are appealing, but that coconut layer could bring me running from 32 miles away. thanks for bringing this goodie to my attention!

MaryMoh said...

Oh, I miss this kuih. I remember eating the pandan ones. Have not tried this. Thanks very much for sharing.

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) said...

Your kuih talam looks good! I have major envy with your kuih cookbook.

Marcellina said...

I have never heard of this delicious sweet! Looks like addictive goodness to me!

pierre said...

hi shaz this is all new to me so thanks for the sharing !!pierre

Trissa said...

Yay for Malaysian Mondays! I'm in the same boat as some of the commenters - I've never tried Kuih Talam before -and I'm glad to know I can use brown sugar as a substitute!

zurin said...

Thanks. Ill be tryong this. It looks gorgeous :)

Barbara Bakes said...

Such a nice contrast between the bottom and the top. It sounds delicious.

veggie belly said...

absolutely delicious! i love malaysian food!

Mei Teng said...

The pandan flavoured one is the ones commonly enjoyed in M'sia. Have yet to see brown sugared ones.

shaz said...

Juliana - glad you like the sound of it :)

grace - I just had to say coconut right?

MaryMoh - thanks. The pandan one is more common

Ellie (Almost Bourdain)- I was lucky, my aunty gave it to me. I'm not usually a fan of these sorts of little cookbooks with no authors because sometimes the recipes don't work. I was very pleasantly surprised by this one.

Marcellina - cheers :)

pierre - no problems :)

Trissa - brown sugar is so good isn't it?

zurin - thank you, glad you like it

Barbara Bakes - i love that contrast too.

veggie belly - thank you!

Mei Teng - haven't you seen them? I've found them in some pasar malams and malay kuih stalls before. But the pandan one is definitely more common. Thanks for visiting :)

Clarky Afif said...

oh i thought kuih talam is ment to be sticky.

shaz said...

Hi Clarky, thanks for visiting. Yes, meant to be a little sticky but not to the point of sticking to the plate like my first attempt :)