I very rarely make Malaysian local sweets at home, just simple ones like sago (tapioca) with gula melaka syrup, or bananas in coconut milk with gula melaka (pengat pisang it’s called. I will post about it soon.)
I had a few tsps of the pandan extract left, and I thought, why not make something that I know and love, and easy to make. The first time I attempted to make this by myself was during my second year of university, and I don’t think I have made this again since then. It doesn’t last long – it needs to be eaten in the same day as you cooked it. The glutinous balls will turn hard if left outside too long (personal experience!). This recipe makes about 15-20 pieces (depends on how big you make the balls). I brought about 10 pieces for my friend Efi and Dora to try the day I made these, and they loved it!
This is also known as buah melaka, buah meaning fruit. The small balls are green in colour, with a melty dark brown sugar filling and grated coconut around the balls. I suppose it does resemble small fruits. In Indonesia, these are known as klepon. This is not to be confused with the Indonesian version of onde onde, which are also small sweet balls of rice cakes but they’re coated with sesame seeds and fried. Maybe I shall attempt to make them with my Indonesian friend one of these days after I return from my holiday.
You can find Pandan Extract (or essence) and glutinous rice flour from most Asian grocery stores. You can use the light coloured palm sugar if you can only find those, but I like the colour of the dark gula melaka when it melts out when you bite the little dough balls. You might be able to find them listed as Gula Jawa as well. Take care to grate them well – if it is too chunky, the sugar will not melt properly and you may bite hard into a piece of sugar.
- 100g of glutinous rice flour + 25g extra by the side (just-in-case)
- 75ml of warm water + a bit more extra by the side (just-in-case)
- 2 tbsps of icing sugar
- 1 tsp of baking soda
- 50g of dark gula melaka (palm sugar), grated into small pieces
- 2 tsps of pandan extract/essence
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut
- In a bowl, mix the salt and the desiccated coconut. Steam the desiccated coconut in a steamer, until soft and fluffy. (If you don’t have a steamer, place the small bowl of the desiccated coconut in a big bowl filled partly with water and microwave them together for a few minutes until the coconut is soft). Set aside to cool.
- Add the pandan extract/essence to the warm water and mix well.
- Mix the baking soda and the icing sugar together.
- In a big bowl, add the glutinous rice flour and icing sugar soda mix together and mix well. Make a well in the centre of the flour mix.
- Add the pandan water mix to the flour mix, and knead until it forms into a pliable dough. If the dough is too dry (it’s hard and it cracks easily when you knead it) add a bit of the reserved water. If the dough is too wet (it’s too sticky and sticks on your fingers) add a bit of the reserved rice flour.
- Pinch a small piece of the dough off, (about the size of a kumquat or a really big marble) and work it into a ball. Flatten it in the palm of your hand into a disc. Try not to make the disc too thick.
- Place a small pinch of the grated gula melaka to the centre of the disc.
- Wrap the gula melaka with the dough from the outer corners to the centre, and pinch. Roll it around to form a ball to seal it properly. Take care to be a bit gentle and to not poke holes on to the outer layer of the balls, because when you cook them, the sugar will melt out and leak. Set aside on a plate.
- Repeat until you have used up all of the dough.
- Bring a big pot of water to the boil on medium. Once the water is bubbling gently, place the balls in the water and stir around gently to make sure that they don’t stick at the bottom of the pot. Leave to cook until they rise up and float.
- Remove with a slotted spoon, and shake off the access water.
- Transfer the ball immediately into the bowl/plate with the steamed grated coconut, and toss to coat.
- Serve immediately. Or at least within the same day. This recipe makes a small portion of ondeh-ondeh and if you are a greedy little minx like me, it usually only lasts for a day. Enjoy!