Kuih Cecemek: The Traditional Dessert from Kampung Gajah, Perak
Indulge in the rich culinary heritage of Perak with a taste of Kuih Cecemek, a beloved traditional dessert. This delectable treat has gained popularity, particularly in the areas near Kampung Gajah, where it is believed to originate from. Made primarily from glutinous rice flour, Kuih Cecemek captivates taste buds as tiny concave pellets, served alongside creamy coconut milk in rectangular boxes crafted from banana leaves.
The name “Cecemek” seemingly came from describing the delightful sensation while savouring this soft and chewy dessert. It is also known by other whimsical names such as Kuih Lesung Batu (“pestle and mortar cake”), Kuih Perigi Buta (“unused water well cake”), or Kuih Lubang Hidung (“nostrils cake”), alluding to the shape of the pellets.
Crafting Kuih Cecemek is a relatively straightforward process. Glutinous rice flour is combined with an adequate amount of coconut milk and a pinch of salt, forming a smooth and pliable dough. The dough is then rolled into tiny balls, with the center pinched to create small concave bowls. These delicate dough bowls are carefully nestled within rectangular boxes made from banana leaves. Prior to steaming, sugar is spooned into the bowls, while salted coconut milk is poured around them. As the dessert steams to perfection, the sugar dissolves into a syrup, and the coconut milk thickens, resulting in a delightful Kuih Cecemek ready to be enjoyed, either warm or chilled.
In recent times, some cooks have introduced pandan flavoring or vibrant colourings to the dough, adding a touch of vibrancy to Kuih Cecemek. Skill and experience are key to ensuring the dough cooks evenly without causing the coconut milk to separate. A well-crafted Kuih Cecemek boasts a delightful fragrance derived from the coconut and banana leaf, offering a soft and chewy texture with just the right amount of sweetness, saltiness, and creaminess.
Although Kuih Cecemek holds a significant place in the culinary heritage of Kampung Gajah, its popularity has waned among the younger generation. Sadly, the art of making this dessert is gradually being forgotten. Today, Kuih Cecemek is typically reserved for special events or enjoyed as a breaking fast treat during Ramadan. Let this treasured dessert remind us of the rich traditions and flavours that shape Perak’s culinary tapestry.