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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Kuih Makmur

My entry for BabeKL's Merdeka event this year, My Sweet Malaysia is a kuih raya. I thought the timing can't be better because we're entering the second week of Ramadhan when the bakers in us start making cookies for the big day.

Kuih Makmur is a must have in East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak) households during the festivities. Makmur means prosperity in Malay and the cookies are named so because in those days, ghee, the main ingredient for it is not that accessible to everyone and was very expensive. Serving this cookie therefore was considered a symbol of status.

This is one of my favourite cookies to make but would restrain myself to make it only during special occasions. It is also the first cookie I learnt to bake from my Mom. I remember her frying the flour in her big wok. I can recall the smell of frying flour in her kitchen until now. It is the mark of the beginning of Raya baking in my parent's household.

I love Makmur because it explodes in your mouth. The way to eat it is to place a ball in the middle of your tongue, close your mouth and wait for this gentle explosion and melting in your mouth. In the beginning you tongue is overwhelmed by all the different sensation then you get to taste the sweet sugar and the very fine texture of icing sugar - that is why it is very important to use only icing sugar to coat it. Then you get the rich nutty sensation of fried flour and ghee before you start to taste the peanut and raw sugar innards. My daughter tells her friends it is snow ball with a little treasure in it. Since all of her friends love peanuts and cookies - it is a very popular introduction in our little neighbourhood.

This year, I get very nostalgic as I taught my own daughter to bake it. After 2-3 attempts she got it - first roll a ball, then make a small dent, then shape it like a flower, make it deeper like a well, put in the peanut then squeeze it close, squeeze some more like making bergedil then roll it to make a perfect ball. I think she explains the process well, no?

There is no real recipe to make this but I will include a short list of ingredients and method. Take a plunge, trust your instinct and let your nose guide you... trust me, the reward is one of the tastiest thing you've ever had!

Kuih Makmur

450g flour
50g rice flour
a pinch of salt
1/2 - 1 cup of ghee
1 cup peanut - roasted and skinned
1TBSP sugar
1 cup (or more) fine icing sugar

1. Combine and sift the two flour together. Fry it in a big wok until you can smell frying flour. Don't burn the flour. It shouldn't change colour at all.
2. Place flour to cool in a wide surface, add a pinch of salt.
3. Add the ghee tablespoon by tablespoon as you need it. I didn't put a proper measurement because the quantity depends on your flour and the humidity. Mix the ghee into the flour and make a sandy dough. Knead the dough and stop adding ghee once you can form a ball from the dough. The dough shouldn't be oily, otherwise it will not melt and make a dense and heavy cookie - which is not what you want.
4. Leave the dough to rest for about 15-30 minutes.
5. Blend the roasted peanut with a tablespoon of sugar. The peanut shouldn't be too fine.
6. Preheat the oven to 160C.
7. Shape the cookies into small balls, adding the peanut mixture and then closing it and rolling it into a ball again. Place it on a baking tray.
8. Bake for about 20 minutes.
9. Leave to cool then roll it in a cup (or more) of icing sugar.


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