It is out with millennial pink and in with the blues instead – thanks to the butterfly pea or blue pea flower.
The flower, which is used in food and drink as a natural food colouring and barely has any taste, is commonly seen in Thai, Malay and Peranakan cuisine.
It is said to be full of antioxidants and is touted to improve skin quality, among other health benefits.
In Thai dishes, the ingredient’s colour represents vibrancy. As for Peranakan food, Folklore‘s chef Damian D’Silva says that it is used not only to mark certain dishes – such as Nonya Kueh Chang – as Peranakan, but, on a more sombre note, also signifies mourning.
As the same type of kueh can be served at various events – be it weddings or funerals – one should note the colours used, says Peranakan cookbook author Lloyd Matthew Tan. For example, the nine-layer kueh lapis, if coloured blue and white, is meant for funerals.
And if the glutinous rice layer is stained blue throughout for kueh salat, it is meant for funerals. The glutinous rice layer for the kueh is usually white or speckled with blue.
He adds: “Blue is never used in nasi lemak for traditional Peranakans, who serve nasi lemak on the 12th day of the wedding ceremony. The rice must be white to denote the purity of the bride.”