If you ever come across a Bruneian anywhere in the world, ask them about their favourite local cakes, and you’re bound to hear one or two from this list! Earn extra brownie points by saying “kueh” (koo-eh) instead of cake, and you’ll never hear the end of it!
The Bruneian traditional kueh is similar to many traditional cakes from around the region, such as in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Nobody knows where the true origins of each traditional kueh came from in Brunei, but we know it all started from the water village – Kampong Ayer many decades ago. Back in the day, due to limited supply of resources, Bruneian cake makers would make use of natural elements and materials to prepare the cake, such as wrapping with leaves, and making use of all parts of a coconut or palm tree.
Today, Bruneian kueh-kueh (plural for kueh) are still as popular as ever due to the nostalgia and historical heritage that it carries with every bite.
For the intrigued foodies and sweet tooths, here is a breakdown of ten popular traditional kueh that you have to try in Brunei:
These are little parcels of steamed rice flour stuffed with sweetened grated coconut and wrapped with palm leaves and secured with a thin toothpick
Similar to a thin pancake (but in green!), these rolled up crepes are made from a batter of flour, coconut milk, eggs and flavoured with pandan juice and then filled a sweet mix of grated coconut and palm sugar. The story is that the name “lenggang” is derived from another local word for ‘swaying’, because when you make Lenggang traditionally, you will tend to sway your hips as you try to thinly spread the batter on the pan.
3. Seri Rupa
Made out of rice flour, coconut milk, lime juice, and brown palm sugar, these little two-layered morsels are then wrapped in palm leaf casings which look like little baskets and then steamed.
4. Renjis Daging
Also known as Roti Jala in our neighboring countires, the wrap of the Renjis Daging is a work of art in itself. “Jala” meaning ‘net’ or ‘netting’, refers to the pancake netting made with turmeric (to give it the yellow colour), flour, egg and coconut milk. It is either rolled up on its own or with a filling of ground meat, but it can also be eaten plain with chicken or beef curry
Pronounced “koh-chee”, these are made from steaming dough of glutinous rice flour and sweetened coconut milk and then wrapped with a banana leaf.
The Bruneian version of the Japanese mochi. Made by mixing glutinous rice flour and pandan juice, rolled into balls and then filled with a sweet mix of grated coconut and brown palm sugar.
A savoury dish, this is commonly found in most night markets and day food stalls. It is made using coconut milk and glutinous rice and then wrapped with nyirik leaf and either pinned with thin palm fronds or tied together with a string before placing it into the steamer.
‘Salurut’, ‘calurut’, ‘celurut’ – they all refer to the same unique kueh. It is a sweet long conical snack and a popular favourite amongst the locals because of the way you have to unravel (or squeeze!) the palm leaves to eat it.
9. Putu Mayang
Also commonly known as “katu mayang”, the ‘noodles’ and green sauce may make it look like a simple snack, but in actual fact, a lot of preparation, thought and care goes into making this. The noodles are made from a dough of coconut milk, water, and ground rice. The dough is then pressed through a brass utensil with 66 holes called a ‘pangantulan Katu Mayang’ and the ‘noodles’ formed after that is then steamed and eaten with the sweet green coconut milk sauce.
10. Puteri Ayu
Also known as ‘apam’, these sweet pillowy mini bundt cakes are made from steaming a mix of rice flour, eggs, sugar, coconut milk and pandan juice. You can also find a different variety of this in the shape of a mini plain sponge cupcake and in different colours.
These are just 10 of the many that you can find all over Brunei. Drop by any day or night markets and you’re bound to come across any of these. If you’re lucky enough, you can even catch the vendor making them fresh on the spot for you! The best time to find all the local snacks and cakes in one place is during Ramadhan at the Ramadhan food markets where you can find a plethora of local and traditional goodies for you to try.
Alternatively, you can also get these at the Gadong Night Market or Tamu Kianggeh throughout the year and more often the vendors would be more than happy to describe each one to you. Happy hunting and happy eating!