Traditional Remedies


It is always easier to take modern medicine whenever we are not feeling well but we should not ignore the benefits of traditional remedies. Do traditional remedies really work? I know some that really work…

For diarrhoea and vomiting (not due to any serious illnesses), mum would give me strong tea without sugar. Milk should be avoid until I get better. It is hard to drink cups of strong tea but it really works. Mum would also give me isotonic drinks until the diarrhoea/vomiting stops.

Young coconut water is not only tasty but is also very nutritious. Coconut water provides an isotonic electrolyte balance that makes it a good isotonic sport drink. Mum gives me young coconut water to drink whenever I have high fever or food poisoning.

The worst part of having a bad cold is blocked nose. Nowadays we have nasal spray but in the old days mum said that sometimes she could hardly sleep due to blocked nose. She had to use a few pillows to put her head up while sleeping until a close, dear friend of hers advised her to tie a piece of cloth tightly around her head until she hears a ‘pop’ sound. And it works!

Young coconut water, tea, honey and cloves are some of the items used in traditional remedies

Young coconut water, tea, honey and cloves are some of the items used in traditional remedies

Mum keeps a jar of coffee powder not only for making coffee but also for emergency uses. If she  hurts her finger while preparing a meal etc, she’ll use the coffee powder to stop the bleeding and it also helps to heal the wound.

Honey is full of goodness and is an excellent source of instant energy. If I have a sore throat or a cough, mum will gives me some honey mixed with lemon or lime juice to drink. It will really makes me feel better.

My dear grandfather taught my mum of another traditional remedy for cough. Mix some cooked rice with water and rock sugar; rest the mixture for a few hours before drinking. Another traditional remedy is tamarind mixed with rock sugar. Traditionally it should be left outside to collect the dewdrops but mum just let it rest for the night in the kitchen.

Water mixed with salt can relief a mild tooth and gum ache. Crushed clove can also be used for a relief  for tooth ache.

In Malaysian cooking, we use mortar and pastel to pound chilli and how it really hurts even if only a tiny drop accidentally splashes to ones eye (while pounding the chilli). It is believed that if the chilli got into ones right eye, rub the eye using the left knee and use the right knee for the left eye. I asked mum if it really works and mum said there is no harm in trying.

I agree with mum that we should learn more about traditional remedies. In fact we should learn more about the benefits of our herbs, plants and trees.


Cicoh (Dip)


In Trengganuspeak we have two different words to describe the different manners of dipping. If a person dip just a small portion of (for example) a banana (pisang) in honey (madu); in Trengganuspeak we name the dipping process as ‘cicoh’. So we’ll say ‘pisang cicoh madu‘. But if a person dip the whole banana in honey; the dipping process is no more cicoh but celok. Hence we now say ‘pisang celok madu‘.

Trengganufolks like to ‘cicoh‘ (dip) their crackers, cookies, certain types of bread and cakes in their drinks. The most preferred drinks for dipping are coffee, tea and ‘Milo’. I’m not so sure if fresh fruit juice and fizzy drinks are also used for dippings. Anyway my siblings and I love to cicoh our cookies and crackers in ‘Milo‘. ‘Biskuk jagung’ (cream cracker) also known as ‘biskuk pak ssegi’ (according to mum) is usually eaten dipped in drinks – in our case, we dip the crackers in ‘Milo‘. Other cookies such as ‘Tiger Biskuat‘, ‘Tiger Susu’ and ‘Biskuk Marie’ are also tasty for cicoh ‘Milo’. During the Eid celebrations I often saw people cicoh their ‘biskuk raya’ (cookies baked for Eid) in their drinks back in Kuala Terengganu; but I prefer to eat my Eid cookies just the way they were.

One should try ‘buoh ulu cicoh Milo‘. ‘Buoh ulu’ or bahulu is a Malaysian sweet cake made from eggs, flour and sugar. They can be soft or crisp depending on how long they were baked. ‘Buoh ulu’ is actually tasty on its own but when dipped in ‘Milo’ -mmm… it surely tastes a lot better. The creamy and chocolaty taste of ‘Milo’ really enhanced the lovely taste of ‘buoh ulu‘. The ‘buoh ulu’ will then be very soft and just melt in my mouth. Sometimes I over ‘cicoh’ (over dip) the ‘buoh ulu’ until parts of my ‘buoh ulu’ sink to the bottom of my ‘Milo‘. I would then use a spoon to dig out my delicious ‘buoh ulu‘. Anyway not all type of cakes would be tasty when dip in drinks. I haven’t heard of anyone who dip their cheese cake or ‘nganang’ (a traditional Trengganu sweet cakes) in their drinks… but who knows?

Nenek (my grandmother) and dad loves to ‘cicoh’ their ‘roti kerah Kemamang’ (a special hard, dry and crispy bread from a district in Terengganu named Kemaman) in ‘kawe’ (black coffee). Another of nenek’s favourite is ‘kayu khammak’(a type of local Terengganu fried bread) cicoh tey o’ (plain tea). I do not like ‘kayu khammak cicoh air’ (drinks) for the drink will then become oily and I do not fancy drinking oily drinks. Oh yes; we drink the leftover drink used for dipping.

One should be creative in thinking of what to ‘cicoh’ in their drinks and of the type of drinks to choose as ‘nnyiccoh’ (a drink to cicoh in). Anyway don’t ever ‘cicoh’ your ‘ikang panggang’ (grilled fish) in your ‘kawe ‘(black coffee) or any other drink for it will then taste ‘anye’. Normally we ‘cicoh’ sweet or rather plain tasted food (eg: white bread) in our drinks but I know a few people who love the taste of ‘khepok kkeping’ (fish cracker) and ‘pulok lepa (please refer to Delicious Pulok) cicoh kawe‘; and I don’t mind to give that a try, I guess…

I perfectly understand the difference between ‘cicoh’ and ‘celok’ but when dad said ‘kicoh‘, I was puzzled. Fortunately mum was around and explained the meaning of ‘kicoh‘. So, if you plan to try dipping your ‘bouh ulu’ in your drink; please remember to ‘cicoh selo-selo’ (dip slowly) for if you over ‘cicoh’ it will be no more ‘cicoh’ but ‘celok‘ (dunk) and if that happens your ‘buoh ulu’ will sink to the bottom of your drink. But it is alright because you can still scoop the ‘buoh ulu’ with a spoon and eat it. However, never ever ‘kicoh’ (rinse) your ‘buoh ulu’ in your drink for it will break to tiny pieces and become too messy to be eaten.

Note: The ‘c’s in cicoh and celok are pronounced as the pronunciation of ‘ch’ in English. The act of ‘makang cicoh air’ (dipping food in drinks) should not be done in fancy restaurants or while eating in another people’s house. Infact it should not be done even in our house, if we have guests around. Anyway one can enjoy their food ‘cicoh air’ in food stalls, ordinary restaurants, very close relatives’ and friends’ houses (in Trengganu). Remember to ‘irup sapa abih’ (finish up) your drink after you are done dipping.