Talam refers to a tray or in Malay, a dulang whereas Kacang Merah means Red Beans or in this case Red Mung Beans. So I guess the name refers to Red Mung Bean cake in a tray. But you may say isn’t a cake a kueh in Malay? Honestly, though I am a Malay, I am just as confused between a kueh and a talam. As far as I know, a kueh in Malay typically refers to a snack or dessert. So my guess is, back then it was given this name due to the fact that this kueh is cooked in a metal tray or some may say a wide cake pan which was also used as a tray for serving. Well at least that’s my take on this issue.
I hope I didn’t confuse you with my explanation. Now, the word kueh is more well-known than a talam so you will be understood if using just the word kueh.
I have explained to you the characteristics of traditional Malay kuehs in my previous post and Talam Kacang Merah is no different. It is a steamed cake, made primarily of rice flour, coconut milk and sugar. It has two layers, one of which contains red beans and is sweet and is usually the bottom layer. The top layer is usually unsweetened, in fact, has a tinge of saltiness, to balance the sweet bottom layer. This top layer is usually thinner than the bottom layer. As for the color, you can color both which ever way you want but rule of thumb is to color each layer differently.