Thursday, 19 February 2009

Kuih Cek Mek Molek and Kuih Keria

Sweet Potatoes or Ubi Keledek, in Malay, is a very versatile tuber. The shoots and tuber can be eaten as a vegetable and also be used in sweet and savoury dishes. In Malay cuisine, these tubers at times, especially during the Japanese Occupation of Malaya, is used as a staple food to replace rice.

There are several varieties of Sweet Potatoes, the more common ones are the orange and whitish-yellow. Purple and red can also be found, mostly imported from Japan. Sweet potatoes can be baked (it can be simply put onto a dying ember and baked until cooked), fried like banana fritters, made into chips like potato chips, or prepared and a sweet dessert called pengat (where the potatoes are cubed and boiled with sugar and coconut milk or in water, sugar and ginger).

The Orange sweet potatoes are sweeter and retains more water compared to the whites . However, the white potatoes give more structure and at times these two are used together in kuihs, like Cek Mek Molek, Belotok, Cucur Badak and Keria.

Cek Mek Molek ( which means "Beautiful Lady") and Belotok share similar looks, the difference is in the filling. Cek Mek Molek (which comes for the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia) is sweet, while Belotok (which originates from the Northern Peninsular of Malaysia) is savoury, with either spicy beef or chicken filling. Cucur Badak, which is also a savoury kuih is filled with prawn coconut sambal. Meanwhile, keria is a Asian version of a doughnut and instead of plain sugar, the sugar is cooked in a thick syrup and then stirred with the Keria to form a delicious crystallised outer layer. Thus, creating a crunchy texture that contrasts against the softness of the kuih.

Following is the method of making Cek Mek Molek and Keria. I hope you will enjoy trying it out!

Boiled Sweet potatoes. Boil the potatoes with the skin on to ensure that it doesn't become too water logged and make sure to remove the potatoes once cooked. Check by piercing with a fork. You can see the fork marks on the sweet potatoes below.

Skins off.
Mash till fine. Remove any stringy particles. Do not use food processor or you'll end up with a gluey mess. It's easier to mash while the potatoes are still warm.
At least 20% weight of flour to weight of mashed sweet potatoes. Meaning if you have a kilo of mashed sweet potatoes add at least 200gm of all purpose flour. Do not decrease. You may increase another 5-10% if the sweet potatoes are watery (That is why it is good to boil the potatoes with their skin on and remove immediately once it is cooked). Do not exceed more than that unless you want to lose the nice yummy sweet potato flavour. Also add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt for every kilo of sweet potatoes. The salt is just to enhance the sweetness.
Mix and knead until you can form a ball. It should be slightly sticky and malleable. Not dry or hard. If initially you have added all the flour and it is still a bit wet, you can let it stand for 20 minutes for the dough to become drier before proceeding.
Divide doughs. I usually weigh the balls 30gm for Keria and 40 gm for Cek Mek Molek/Belotok.

This is where the recipes differ, following is the making of Cek Mek Molek/Belotok. You take a a ball of the weighed dough and flatten it.
Place a teaspoon of sugar in the middle, if you are making Cek Mek Molek, or a teaspoon of the savoury filling if you are making Belotok. The filling of the Belotok is similar to the Karipap (Curry puff) but without the potatoes in it. It tastes more like a rendang than a curry.
Fold the dough into 2 and crimp the edges. Make sure it is crimped nice and tight, otherwise the filling may leak during the frying process.
Roll the dough to make a nice clean 'torpedo' shape.
The completed Cek Mek Moleks ready for frying.
Heat oil, and fry. Continuously turning to make sure that the kuih is fried evenly. Otherwise one side may bloat and cause it to cook unevenly.
Drain on kitchen towels.
For the Keria, once you have weighed the dough, shape it into torus (or doughnut) shape, by pushing your index finger in the middle of the dough and at the same time turning the dough around the finger like it's a hula hoop.
Frying is similar to the Cek Mek Molek, only that you don't need to turn it often. Just once the once side is golden brown, you can flip it over to fry the other side.
Drain it on kitchen towels. The camera is a bit blurry because of the steam from the kuihs.
Once the Keria is cooled, you can make the sugar caramel. Around 1 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoon of water in a kuali or saucepan, heated until bubbly and all the sugar has dissolved. Make sure it hasn't started caramelising. Add the cooled Keria, take the kuali off the heat and stir gently to make sure the sugar will cover the kuih and at the same time create the crystallisation of sugar adhering to the outside of the keria.


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