I recently read a New York Times’ article about how former POTUS Barack Obama would read 10 LADs (letters a day) out of all the letters he received at the White House everyday. It reminded me that behind every letter was a story, and behind every story was a person. There was a time when we could say the same of the food we eat, where we knew the person who farmed or cooked our food. Today, most of our food is mass-produced in factories and made by machines.
Enter the home cook revolution, where ordinary people like you and I try to reclaim a bit of the human touch by cooking and baking for ourselves and loved ones. I like to see these homemade hand-rolled love letters as an attempt to connect with history, carry on traditions, and convey the human story behind each delicate roll.
Nonya love letters, or kuih kapit, are so light they’re so easy to eat. Making them however, requires some skill and speed. This batter can be used in metal molds cooked over charcoal or in electric molds. Once the batter is cooked and brown, remove it from the mold quickly and immediately roll it before it cools and hardens. We used a knife sharpening steel rod for rolling as it was the perfect size for a cigar shape. However, you can use a wooden dowel or chopsticks if you like. Also, you can choose to fold them into quarters if you prefer that to the more challenging cigar shape.
So gather a few friends around the charcoal and try your hand at these homemade Nonya love letters. Then surely you’ll be able to say: behind every love letter is a story, and behind every story is a person.
Yields: 20 rolls
60g caster sugar
80ml coconut milk
50g rice flour
10g tapioca flour
¼ tsp salt
- Beat eggs and sugar until frothy and sugar has dissolved.
- Stir in coconut milk
- Sift rice flour, tapioca flour and salt together and stir into liquid batter
- Strain over a fine mesh sieve. Set aside.
- Fire up a charcoal BBQ pit.
- Brush the insides of love letter molds with some cooking oil and then preheat molds over the fire
- Open up the mold and ladle batter over mold 2-3 times to completely cover one side of the mold with batter (You should hear a sizzling sound)
- Close the mold and let the excess batter drip back into the bowl
- Place mold over fire and cook for a few minutes.
- Using a knife, scrape away the excess cooked batter around the mold
- Return love letter mold to fire this time with the other side facing down and cook until the batter becomes a light brown wafer
- Quickly remove love letter from mold and roll it up into a cigar shape using a knife sharpening rod or a wooden dowel. Press down on the end for a few seconds before removing rod to prevent the love letter from unfurling.
- Allow it to cool and crisp up before eating or storing in an air-tight container