Here’s How Kuih Mayat, Kuih Tahi Itik & 8 Other Weird Malaysian Kuih Got Their Names

Does Bubur Cha Cha really make you...cha-cha?

Cover image via Instagram (@nadiahkimie) & Instagram (@gabdominic_kuehstry)

Kuih. It's synonymous with the Malaysian lifestyle because we stuff our faces with it all the time.

It doesn't matter the occasion or time of the day, they always find their way to our plates...and tummies, hehe. They're basically snacks, and who doesn't love 'em?

But, have you ever wondered why some Malaysian kuih are so oddly-named?

We compiled a list of weird Malaysian kuih that you should try - if you haven't already!

1. Pulut Tai Tai

Also known as Pulut Tekan, this is a classic Nyonya kuih comprising of white and blue-dyed fluffy glutinous rice served with a luscious dollop of kaya. The rich cobalt hue comes from the butterfly pea flower, also known as bunga telang

The word 'Tai Tai' refers to a rich man's wife in Cantonese, and it is said that women who enjoyed a life of leisure and luxury were served this kuih in the olden times.

2. Kuih Cakar Ayam

Image via Butterkicap

So...Chicken Scrawl Kuih?! Who'd wanna eat that? Well, it's yummier than its namesake, that's for sure :p They're just named that way because they look so messy.

This kuih is actually really easy to make, only using yam, coconut sugar, and deep-frying them till they're crispy. There really is no better sweet snack when you're feeling peckish. Cronch.

3. Kuih Mayat

Otherwise known as Kuih Serabai, this morbidly-named morsel is usually served at...funerals. Yep, you read that right. Its flat, hole-y exterior is a metaphor referring to a body in a grave, since mayat actually means corpse. 

However, it can also be consumed on normal occasions. Extremely popular in Melaka, this kuih is best served with pengat durian, or pengat gula melaka. Oooooh, sounds so tempting!

4. Bubur Cha Cha

Bubur Cha Cha is a creamy, sweet dessert that consists of a medley of yams, sweet potatoes, taro, and sago. A popular Peranakan dish in South East Asia, its roots can be traced back to Indonesia as well.

As for its unique name, the word 'Cha Cha' is said to be derived from the Hokkien word 'che che', meaning prosperity. Traditionally, this dessert is served on the 15th day of the Chinese New Year, and can be eaten chilled or warm.

5. Kuih Tahi Itik

Usually made alongside buah tanjung (a yellow, teardrop-shaped kuih) and jalamas (a stringy Kelantanese kuih), this pile of unassuming white stuff is actually a part of Kelantan's longstanding heritage.

In the olden days, it was more economical for people to eat duck eggs, as opposed to chicken eggs. Duck eggs were larger and tasted better. The yolks of the eggs would be used to make the buah tanjung. Meanwhile, the egg whites would be cooked over a flame with rice flour, sugar, pandan leaves, and a few other ingredients, creating a creamy kuih that's actually addictive.

6. Kuih Badak Berendam

A combination of sweet and salty flavours, this traditional kuih is creamy and rich on the tongue, with chewy glutinous rice balls served atop cooled, sweetened coconut milk with a tinge of salt. It's just way too good.

Kuih Badak Berendam inherited its namesake from the way it looks; a bloat of hippos at a watering hole, soaking and cooling themselves off. So adorbs!

7. Kuih Siput

Image via Mak Dan Sofia

This curry-flavoured crunchy snack looks similar to its Italian counterpart, the pasta variant called gnocchetti - but they taste worlds apart. The dough is made with a liberal portion of margarine, cumin, and curry powder, and it is deep-fried in a wok of oil.

It is a quintessentially Malay dish, and is usually served during Hari Raya. Its ribbed exterior makes it look like one is munching on snail shells, hence the very aptly named Kuih Siput. 

8. Kuih Tahi Minyak

As gross as it sounds, Kuih Tahi Minyak is actually named after the blackened bits and pieces left in your pan after you're done frying something.

Also known as Kuih Kole Kacang, they are reminiscent of brownies. A mixture of gula merah, sugar, and pandan is boiled with water and later on mixed with mung bean flour, santan, and salt until it thickens. A sweet treat to be washed down with a cup of teh tarik.

9. Kuih Puteri Mandi

This kuih was given its name because it looks like princesses who are being given a shower. The small glutinous pieces are first boiled in hot water, and then later drenched in a concoction of sugar syrup and grated coconut, adding a satisfying bite to every mouthful.

Kuih Puteri Mandi is said to originate from the East Coast of the Peninsular, but it is a treat that many Malaysians really enjoy.

10. Kuih Lidah Buaya

Otherwise known as Kuih Tiram, this snack does take after an oyster. With its jagged ridges and irregular edges, it's just as crispy as it looks.

The pointed tip makes it look like a crocodile's tongue, and it somewhat resembles a filo pastry because it has so many layers inside. Dusted with icing, this would make such a good snack while you're having movie marathons, and don't worry - they don't actually bite, hehe.

Got a lot of makan places to recommend? Let us know in our new SAYS Makan Buddies Facebook Group!

Image via SAYS Makan

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