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.


Lakse Kuoh Masok


On Sunday, we had a very delicious ‘lakse kuoh masok’ (laksa kuah masak) for dinner at nenek’s place. ‘Lakse kuoh masok’ is a type of rice noodle (lakse) dish served with a spicy fish curry sauce (kuoh masok) and fresh raw vegetables called ‘ulang’ (ulam in standard speak). In Terengganu, we have two types of laksa dishes – ‘lakse kuoh masok’ (rice noodle in cooked fish curry sauce) and ‘lakse kuoh metoh’ (rice noodle in uncooked fish curry sauce. ‘Lakse kuoh masok’ is also known as ‘lakse kuoh meroh’ while ‘lakse kuoh metoh’ is also known as ‘lakse kuoh puteh’ due to the colours of their fish curry sauces.

The delicious ‘lakse kuoh masok’ that we enjoyed that evening was specially brought by Pak Cik Hisham who works in nenek’s bookstore, Alam Akademik in Kuala Terengganu. The ‘kuoh’ (fish curry sauce) was cooked by Pak Cik Hisham’s mother. She must be a very good cook for the ‘kuoh’ is very tasty. According to nenek, it is not easy to prepare a very tasty ‘kuoh masok’ for in cooking Terengganu traditional dishes, the amount of ingredients used for a recipe is just ‘agok-agok’ or about ‘a certain amount’- so one needs a lot of practice to master the recipe.

Even the laksa (rice noodle) is brought from Terengganu. In KL, mum uses the dried laksa because the kind of fresh laksa sold in KL tastes very differently from the ones sold in Terengganu. Of course the fresh laksa or ‘lakse kebok’ is much tastier than the dried laksa especially the one that Pak Cik Hisham brought to KL. Nenek said that Pak Cik Hisham’s ‘lakse’ was of high quality and stayed soft and fresh even after two days outside the refrigerator.

Preparing a traditional ‘lakse kuoh masok’ is rather tedious especially when the types of fish suitable for the fish curry sauce are quite bony. First we have to boil the fish and debone them. The process is tricky as we have to look out for fine fish bones. Then mash the fish using a mortar and pestle until smooth. Cook the fish in coconut milk together with shrimp paste, chili paste, asam, shallots, garlic, ginger and other spices and herbs on slow fire for at least four hours for a tasty ‘kuoh masok’.

For the vegetables, traditionally we use brinjals, cucumbers, bean sprouts, fresh basil leaves, cashew shoots, long beans and kesomleaves or polygonum. Slice (very fine) all the vegetables except brinjals and cucumbers that should be cut into fine cubes. Anyway for the modern version of ‘lakse kuoh masok’, any ulam (salad) such as pegaga, ulam raja, etc can be used instead of the vegetables mentioned above but the basil and kesom (polygonum) leaves are a must. If using the dried laksa, boil the laksa until soft, then rinse them in cold water. Please do not use the KL version of fresh laksa for it does not taste like the Terengganu ‘lakse at all. Serve the ‘lakse’ (lakse kebok’ if possible) with ‘kuoh‘, vegetables, slices of hard boiled eggs, lime and some shrimp paste and chili paste for an extra delicious ‘lakse kuoh masok‘. ‘Pok Cik Shang‘, thank you very much for the delicious lakse – we really enjoyed the ‘akok’ and egg tarts too.’Sedak sunggoh kuoh lakse mok Pok Cik Shang. Rase macang nok lagi je’.