Coconut In Malay Cuisine: How It Is Used In Popular Delicacies

Coconut In Malay Cuisine: How It Is Used In Popular Delicacies

We explore the versatility of coconut, and the rich heritage and culture from various delectable Malay dishes.

Whether as an adult or child, visiting the museums never get old. From the National Museum of Singapore, Asian Civilisations Museum and Singapore Philatelic Museum among others, there is so much to explore with every visit—especially in the wondrous eyes of children. 

Each museum is packed with its own rich cultural heritage and a lot is still left to be discovered. Thanks to the Singapore Heritage Board, we’ll uncover and explore some interesting facts from one such museum—the Malay Heritage Centre. 

Preparing Coconut

The ingredient coconut, or Kelapa in Malay, is frequently used in Malay cooking. There are many ways to prepare and consume coconut, whether through the coconut juice or meat.  

One of the popular uses of coconut is through its grated coconut flesh. But how do we obtain it? 

Featured below is a Coconut Grater, or Kukur Kelapa in Malay, found in the Malay Heritage Centre Collection. 

Coconut In Malay Cuisine: How It Is Used In Popular Delicacies

Carved Wooden Coconut Grater | Malay Heritage Centre Collection

You might be scratching your head wondering, how exactly does one grate a coconut with such an antique-looking object? 

It first involves sitting on the low stool and grate the coconut with the blade in front. 

Coconut In Malay Cuisine: How It Is Used In Popular Delicacies

The blade that is located in front of the grater.

Following that, one will need to hold half a coconut shell and grate the white flesh against the blade in an up and down motion.

Coconut In Malay Cuisine: How It Is Used In Popular Delicacies

To obtain coconut milk, water is then added to the grated flesh to help squeeze out the milk. Otherwise, you can use the grated flesh as it is.

Coconut In Malay Cuisine

Grated coconut in Malay Cuisine.

Many Uses of Coconut in Malay Cuisine

Coconut Milk

As mentioned, coconut is commonly used in a variety of Malay cuisines. Think delicacies like Nasi Lemak, Rendang and Lontong. These dishes are created using coconut milk.

  • Nasi Lemak

Coconut In Malay Cuisine

Rice made fragrant with coconut milk and eaten with fried chicken, peanuts, eggs, fried ikan bilis (dried anchovies) and chilli.

  • Rendang

Coconut In Malay Cuisine: How It Is Used In Popular Delicacies

A meat dish that is slow cooked in coconut milk and spices.

  • Lontong

Coconut In Malay Cuisine: How It Is Used In Popular Delicacies

Boiled rice cake in a fragrant coconut vegetable stew.

Grated Coconut

On the other hand, dishes like Ondeh Ondeh, Kueh Dadar and Putu Piring are some of the dishes made with coconut shavings. 

  • Ondeh Ondeh

Coconut In Malay Cuisine

Pandan flavoured rice ball filled with gula melaka (palm sugar) and covered in grated coconut. 

  • Kueh Dadar

Coconut In Malay Cuisine

Pandan crepe wrapped with grated coconut filling cooked in gula melaka (palm sugar). 

  • Putu Piring

Coconut In Malay Cuisine

Round, steamed rice cake filled with melted gula melaka (palm sugar) and eaten with freshly grated coconut.

Activities to Try

Now that you’ve learnt more about the common uses of coconut in Malay cooking, here are some fun activities to try out!

Identify the Food

Among the six Malay dishes below, select the correct food(s) that are made using coconut milk as an ingredient.

Note: The answer will be found at the end of the article.

Coconut In Malay Cuisine

Now, instead of coconut milk as an ingredient, select the correct food(s) that are made using coconut shavings as an ingredient.

Coconut In Malay Cuisine: How It Is Used In Popular Delicacies

Answer to dishes with Coconut milk as an ingredient: Nasi Lemak, Rendang, Lontong

Answer to dishes with coconut shavings as an ingredient: Ondeh Ondeh, Kueh Dadar, Putu piring

Learn More at the Malay Heritage Centre

If you have enjoyed this virtual experience of learning about the common uses of coconut in dishes, and the various types of cuisines created in Malay cooking, why not head over to the Malay Heritage Centre?

There, you’ll learn even more about the rich heritage and culture of the Singapore Malay community, which you can share with fellow family and friends.

Fun fact: Did you know rendang and lontong are commonly served during Hari Raya Puasa?

Visit malayheritage.org.sg to learn more about the Malay Heritage Centre!

Lead image source: iStock

ALSO READ:  21 Old School Singapore Activities For Kids To Experience Before They Disappear

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