High demand for traditionally made kuih bakul during CNY

BALIK PULAU – Kuih bakul or Nian Gao, especially the traditionally made ones, are still in high demand during the Chinese New Year.

A 53-year-old housewife, Lee Li Yong, who lives at Jalan Tun Sardon, said she inherited the traditional method of making kuih bakul, which carries the symbol of luck and prosperity for the festival, from her grandmother.

“I started learning to make it when I was still in primary school by wrapping banana leaves on a cylindrical tin and after almost 10 years, I was allowed to handle every process to make the sweet and sticky glutinous rice cakes,” she told Bernama recently.

Lee said she had been making kuih bakul for more than 30 years and demand is particularly high during Chinese New Year.

She added that her family used to make flour from scratch by grinding the glutinous rice by hand, which was the most difficult process in making kuih bakul.

“That is why I have decided to buy a machine that will make our work easier and to make more kuih bakul so that we can sell them,” she said.

 Lee said most of the process of making kuih bakul is still traditional, such as using firewood for slow cooking and steaming process up to 14 hours and using banana leaves to wrap the cakes.            “It is a long and slow process, but we want to keep the original taste so that everyone can enjoy these kuih bakul prepared by the last three generations,” she said.

Lee said she was assisted by her family members who made 400 various sizes of kuih bakul daily to be sold between RM4 and RM10 to customers.

Meanwhile, in PADANG BESAR, Perlis, fond memories of helping his late mother in the kitchen to bake kuih bakul had motivated Chaing Chai, 66, to continue the tradition of making this traditional delicacy.

“For me, Chinese New Year celebration is not complete without kuih bakul, which is a must-have every year, just like the Malays, there should be rendang and ketupat for the Raya morning meal.

“I still remember sharing kuih bakul with my Malay friends as a child, and they shared their special rendang and ketupat dishes with me,” he told Bernama when met at Pekan Kaki Bukit today.

Chaing said making kuih bakul requires patience, as the lengthy process of steaming the cake takes about 10 to 12 hours.

“The perfectly cooked kuih bakul can be stored for a long time, almost two years, and does not spoil so quickly. 

“To preserve the aroma and fragrance, the kuih bakul must be cooked with firewood,” he said. – Bernama