Monash Cook-Off Special: Nyonya Kuih

Written by: Chua Jia Ying

Featuring: Li Ting 

If you were born in Malacca, Penang, Singapore or Medan, chances are, you have heard of Peranakan cuisine otherwise known as Nyonya cuisine! The terms Peranakan and Nyonya Baba are used interchangeably to describe descendants of Hoklo settlers who first came to Malay Peninsula and Indonesian Archipelago between the 15th and 17th centuries.

These days, the Peranakans are known for their imaginative and unique cuisine that drew inspiration from traditional Chinese and Malay dishes. Peranakan recipes often involve using a variety of indigenous herbs and spices and employs traditional Chinese cooking techniques to create a unique and harmonious blend of flavours in each dish. But the Peranakans are not merely known for their savoury dishes, some of their most famous delicacies are their colourful, aromatic, and yummy kuihs that come in all shapes and sizes! 

This week, we had the chance to interview Li Ting, who hosts a Nyonya cooking class in her hometown, Malacca. Li Ting’s cooking class teaches inexperienced cooks, seasoned chefs, and anyone in between to make an assortment of staple Nyonya Kuihs, notably – the Pineapple Tarts, Angku Kuih and Onde-Onde! With the Peranakan culture gradually fading with time as descendants lose connection with their culture, Li Ting is on a mission to raise recognition for Nyonya Kuihs by teaching her guests how to make these delectable desserts at home with extremely simple steps.

So, Li Ting, how did you come to learn about the Peranakan culture and kuih-making? 

Being a Malaccan, I grew up watching my mom and grandmother making kuihs for special occasions like Chinese New Year, birthdays, etc. They were the ones who cultivated the passion of kuih-making in me! Besides enjoying the process, I enjoyed eating them too. I guess this explained why I was the fattest among my 3 other siblings. Haha!

The recipes that Li Ting teaches in her cooking classes were once kept closely guarded before they were passed down to her by her grandparents, but Li Ting has no qualms about sharing them with her guests.

What inspired you to embark on this venture to teach and share your family recipes?

I decided to embark on this venture as I wish to share my family’s recipes with people from around the world! I believe our local kuihs are just as good as French pastries and they deserve a spot in the global culinary arena. In order to promote our local kuih culture internationally, I have listed my cooking class on Airbnb Experience and Trip Advisor, two of the world’s leading travel platforms.

What is your favourite part about hosting such a unique cooking class?

The best part of my venture is getting to know people from other parts of the world (I once hosted 2 lovely guests from the Netherlands!) who share the same passion in kuih-making as me.

What was your most memorable experience since starting this venture a year ago?

One of the most memorable experiences was when I was invited to demonstrate how to make Ang Ku Kuih on a live TV programme on Astro. 

And lastly, what is your favourite kuih?

Haha, this is a tough one. I would say Ang Ku Kuih as my grandparents believe that this kuih brings good luck and prosperity.

Li Ting’s cooking class is open for registration via Airbnb Experience and Trip Advisor, but you can contact her via Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp if you are interested in enrolling in one of her classes. If you are looking for a fun and therapeutic activity to do when you are on a trip in Malacca, we highly recommend you drop by and learn more about the Peranakan culture and Nyonya Kuih-making. 

Melaka Home Cooking Class

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melakahomecookingclass/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/melakahomecookingclass/

WhatsApp: +60 16 665 0623

And that’s one special feature! See you next week! 

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