One small food history mystery is the origin of SE-Asian food cooked by steaming known as "kukus" (and also "kuskus") and also the cooking vessels used to cook this food,which are known as "kukusan". This is of interest because the North African cooking vessel used to steam couscous, is in Arabic known as a "kiskis" (although more commonly known in the West by its French name of "couscousier"). Is there a possible connection? While kukusan can refer to a whole range of steamers, some of the more basic rice steamers consisting of a woven bamboo cone set on a tall vase like pot closely resemble many North African couscousiers (see above).
Certainly the Arabic world has had a huge impact on SE-asian culture, and this has influenced many aspects of the local food culture. However, while these basic rice steamers are found in many different locations, the terms used to describe them is not consistent. In Malaysia and Indonesia they are kukusan, while in Thailand and Lao known as "huwt nung kow"and "houad maw nung" respectively (both terms are a combination of the name for the upper bamboo cone and the base pot with "nung" meaning steam). While it is possible that these vessels were introduced into SE-Asia from the Arabic world? I don't believe that this is enough evidence yet to conclude this. Could there be another way in which this SE-Asian steaming technique is connected to the Arabic world?
Recently I spent some time in the former Portuguese colony of Macau. The food of the Macanese is an amazing combination of European and Asian food traditions. European food seen through an Asian lens (or maybe the other way around). Locally cooking food by steaming is known as "cuscus", with a specific dish of fish steamed on a plate with aromatics in the Chinese manner also been known as "cuscus". Is it possible that the Portuguese are the root by which an Arabic cooking technique was introduced to SE-Asia? Certainly recipes from "cuscuz" were retained from the Moorish period in Portugal until into the 18th century at least and many former Portuguese territories still make a wide variety of steamed dishes that are called "cuscuz". The Portuguese were a strong presence in SE-Asia from the 16th century onwards, especially in parts of Malaysia and Indonesia were the use of kusus as a term for steaming is most often found. Several Macanese that I spoke to this about indicated that they thought the root of the word was based on a Moorish connection via the Portuguese. Of special note is that the Portuguese language was used not only by Europeans in the region, but by many locals as a lingua franca to ease trade in a linguistically diverse region.
However, "Kukus" was used in the region to denote steam/smoke/vapor in languages, such as Old Javanese, which predate the arrival of the Portuguese in SE-Asia. Old Javanese heavily influenced modern Indonesian and Malay languages. So the most simple case is that the similarity of the terms "kiskis" and "kukusan" for food steamers may simply be false.