The Traditional Kuehs of Brunei

According to my gym instructor friend, one of the questions that he had to study for the Brunei nationality exam was - 'what is the difference between the wet cakes (kueh basah) and dry cakes (kueh kering)?' - and - 'name the two types'. This former is a rather tough question to answer and to find the definitive list of Brunei kuehs without knowing where to look is also equally tough. I wrote a little bit about Brunei kuehs a while ago (link here) but since I now have a book with me describing the list of Brunei kuehs, I thought I will revisit the subject.

Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka published a book entitled the Traditional Cakes of Brunei - in Malay in 1986 (which has ran out) and reprinted it in English very recently. I got my copy from s@s (thanks s@s!) very recently. The book contained all the traditional cakes or kuehs of Brunei and divided them into wet and dry ones. So you would automatically know which one is which. By the way - the answer to what is the difference between the two is that the dry ones keep for very long and the wet ones, you have to eat more or less straight away.

The book is actually a cookbook and it described how each kueh is made. Since many of the Brunei kuehs require special utensils, there is also a whole section of specialised Brunei moulds of which I have never known existed before. For instance to make buahulu (spelling as given), there are about 5 different types of moulds including big sized flower mould, sakah-sakah mould and horse shaped mould. There are other types of moulds for the other kuehs such as the madu kesirat mould, pengangan papan mould and the sapit mould. Other utensils described include the pangantulan katu mayang, palinggangan and the palitan. The descriptions of each one and the pictures are included in the book.

If you ever wanted how to make Brunei kuehs, the recipes of each and every single Brunei kueh is in the book. Though I have to admit, something got lost in the translation. For instance, to make ardam it says 'wash rice, soak in water for 2 hours and drip away' - drip away? I would like to see what the Malay version actually says. The recipes did not state how many pieces of kuehs can be made from the amount of ingredients that is stated. The recipe for Kueh Jala requires 1.8 kg rice and 1.5 kg sugar. I don't know much about cooking but 3.3 kg worth of something would make a lot of Kueh Jala!

Despite that, the book is very useful - even if you will never be cooking or making any of the kuehs - it's probably a lot easier to buy small quantites at the tamu - the book does provide wonderful knowledge about the traditional Brunei kuehs and hence the Brunei culture and heritage as well. Go to Dewan Bahasa and get a copy.


Anonymous said…
No worries Mr.BR :)

A friend bought the Malay version about two weeks ago at Old Airport's Dewan Bahasa.

Just thought of sharing that info should anyone be interested to get a copy :)
Anonymous said…
Where is the Dewan Bahasa? You mean the one in town in front of Yayasan? Do they sell books there also? But this looks like a cool book. For some weird reason, I like to collect recipe books of places that I visited...weird because I never tried a single thing :-P
Anonymous said…
I for one love collecting cook books and I do have this book in my collection. You are right about this book being lost in translation, I really had a good laugh when I read it! Direct translation indeed! I just wish they made the contents of the book more clearer in information tho. I guess they try to target the book for tourists, maybe,thats why its in English..but at least they could also include by using other alternatives of using 'daun simpur' or 'daun pisang' to wrap the 'kueh' in this modern world and proper measurements please! hahaha! this is a good one..I don't know if you spot it, in one of the recepi, they still use a can(yes a tin can..look it up!) as a measuring tool (cupak? tahil?)
Yes I know, its a traditional food recepi but does the method of cooking it need to be using the old method still? me the book is a very good idea and initiative but I'm disappointed it is not thoroughly well researched and written.
I bought the book thinking of giving it as a gift for a foreign friend since its in English and about Brunei Kueh...but after I read it I was to embaressed to give it to her in the end.
DrKong said…
I saw book recipe (especially traditional kueh or cake) nowadays was only pleased to the writer, not the customer/readers. Even when its written in Bahasa. Hope they (writer) do their research before translating some "traditional" words that used in the recipes.

We might cook something new, or should I say something creative rather than the original version of the food (if we followed he book "bulat-bulat") :P

I wish I can make some kuih Brunei here... I miss the kelupis...
Tim H said…
Anyone know how can I acquired a copy of these recipe book? Perhaps via online? And of course postage worldwide?

Any advise welcome!

Popular posts from this blog

Brunei Royal Wedding 2015: Profile of Royal Bride Dayangku Raabi'atul Adawiyyah

Family Titles in Brunei

Pulau Cermin - Brunei's Historic Island