Malay youths pick up art of making kuih bakul

Lee with two of her employees, Firdaus and Tengku Nor Iskandar, inspecting the kuih bakul. — Photos: Bernama

TWO Malay youths have become a vital part of a kuih bakul production managed by a senior citizen in Kuala Krai, Kelantan.

Firdaus Roslan, 34, said he and his friend, Tengku Nor Iskandar Tengku Ibrahim, 24, started working with Lee Le Kim, 74, five years ago.

Firdaus said that through his employer’s guidance, he now knew the ins and outs of making kuih bakul (glutinous rice cake or nian gao, which is a Chinese New Year delicacy) from start to finish.

“For me, the process of making kuih bakul is not difficult but requires patience because if done hastily, it will not turn out well,” he told Bernama in Jalan Chin Hwa.

Lee with some kuih bakul made in Kuala Krai.Lee with some kuih bakul made in Kuala Krai.

Tengku Nor Iskandar, who started working there in 2019, also said he had become skilled in the intricacies of making the delicacy.

He said that in the process of making kuih bakul, the ingredients must be halal and clean, and that each part of the process required proper timing.

“The Chinese community believes there are taboos during the process of making kuih bakul, such as not talking too much.

“Some claim that if these taboos are violated, the kuih bakul will not turn out well or will be spoiled,” he said.

He added that there were two other Malay workers along with four others from the Chinese community who help out.

Meanwhile, Lee said she was fortunate because with the help of her workers, orders for 10,000 kuih bakul were successfully completed.

She has been running the business for over 20 years, based on a family recipe.

“All my workers are local residents here and have been helping out every year before the Chinese New Year celebration.

“Although four of them are Malay, they are not unfamiliar with this delicacy.

“In fact, they already know all the processes of making kuih bakul,” said Lee, who runs the business at her home in Jalan Chin Hwa.

Ingredients used include glutinous rice flour, coconut milk, palm sugar and granulated sugar.

Better known as “Mek Ah Chai” among locals there, Lee said that most orders came from supermarkets and residents around Kuala Krai.

She said her daily sales reached 70kg, with each kilogramme sold at RM17.

“The process of making kuih bakul requires patience, where after mixing the flour, it will be put into special containers and steamed for 12 hours.

“After being taken out of the steamer, the kuih will be left to cool for several hours.

“If the plastic cover is punctured, the kuih will spoil and affect its quality,” said Lee, whose three children live outside Kelantan.

She said besides the Chinese community, Malays also bought her kuih bakul.

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Malay , workers , kuih bakul , Jalan Chin Hwa , CNY


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