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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many Uses of Coconut in Malay Cuisine
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
Rice made fragrant with coconut milk and eaten with fried chicken, peanuts, eggs, fried ikan bilis (dried anchovies) and chilli.
A meat dish that is slow cooked in coconut milk and spices.
Boiled rice cake in a fragrant coconut vegetable stew.
On the other hand, dishes like Ondeh Ondeh, Kueh Dadar and Putu Piring are some of the dishes made with coconut shavings.
- Ondeh Ondeh
Pandan flavoured rice ball filled with gula melaka (palm sugar) and covered in grated coconut.
- Kueh Dadar
Pandan crepe wrapped with grated coconut filling cooked in gula melaka (palm sugar).
- Putu Piring
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.
Now, instead of coconut milk as an ingredient, select the correct food(s) that are made using coconut shavings as an ingredient.
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