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Nonya Kueh

These Nonya kueh (cakes) are made from a variety of fulsome and flavourful ingre­dients such as coconut milk, sweet potatoes, tapioca, palm sugar and pandan leaves. 

Presented together, they make up a colourful, pleasing platter, and thus are among the most popular items to be enjoyed during tea time, as a sweet dessert, and as part of the menu at festive occasions. 

Traditionally Peranakan girls were trained to perfect the art of making kueh — skill in the culinary arts could, along with other skills, lead to marriage to a respectable and rich man. Many Peranakans still spend time making kueh for their families, as they believe the more effort you put into preparing food for your family, the happier all will be.  

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Popiah

Popiah  is believed to have originated in China during the Qing Dynasty, and was usually eaten during a time when there was a surplus of vegetables in the market, such as in spring. Other ingredients have found their way into the Singaporean version of this dish. 

First, different vegetables are prepared. Yam bean (jicama), bamboo shoots and sometimes carrots are shredded and braised to make a filling. Bean sprouts are blanched, eggs are boiled and chopped, prawns are boiled, shelled and sliced thinly, Chinese sausage and cucumber are sliced fine, coriander leaves and local lettuce torn into portions. 

Then a round wheat-flour skin is spread out, and smeared with a paste of garlic, chilli and sweet caramel sauce. The filling and other ingredients are heaped onto the centre of the skin, which is then rolled around them into a log, which may be sliced for easier eating. 

The skill of the popiah-maker lies in getting the ingredient proportions just right, so that you taste all the different flavours; and the amount of filling just right, so that the popiah doesn’t disintegrate when you pick it up to eat! 

‘Popiah parties’ are popular in Singapore, where all the ingredients are laid out, and guests roll their own popiahs, with varying degrees of success and plenty of fun!

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Written by:
Singapore Tourism Board

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