Home is where the heart is and your stomach is where the dessert is. People say there is always room for dessert. True, especially if you are brought up in a beautiful country that grows sugar cane faster than money can grow on trees. To all wonderful Malaysians out there, if you are studying overseas or planning to do so, you are in for a good treat. Sugar, spice and everything nice! This article is going to share or perhaps remind you of some Malaysia desserts recipes that you can prepare even when you are abroad.
“Just by the looks of it you can already taste it in your mouth.”
Green, green grass of home. These little green balls of goodness are far from tasting like grass but they definitely remind us of home. In fact, this green hue is the result of blended and sieved pandan juice. Well, other than pandan juice, this recipe needs glutinous rice flour, little (like really tiny) cubes of Gula Melaka, grated coconut and a pinch of salt. It can get tricky when you are trying to blend the pandan leaves as you are turning solid leaves into liquid form. So, a bit of water helps the blender to work its magic. When that is done, add it slowly into the glutinous rice flour and knead it lightly until moldable dough is formed.
Now, here comes the part that tests your instincts rather than your equation skills: Roll a small amount of dough between your palm till it forms a ball. Form a dimple in the center to fit a tiny cube of Gula Melaka in it and start rolling it into a ball again. Repeat this process till you have enough to feed your mates. Boil them in hot water and scoop them up once they are seen floating on the surface of the water. Grated coconut tastes just as good as it is but a pinch of salt enhances its flavor. While the glutinous balls are still hot, roll them over the grated coconut to get each one coated in it. The saltiness from the coconut, and that ooze of sweetness from that Gula Melaka will make you swoon, “Assignments can wait.”.
2. Bubur Cha Cha – Cha
“It’s as good as the cha cha cha dance.”
The third ‘Cha’ is my own take on this dessert’s name. Don’t this dessert always sound like a dance genre to you? A delicious conundrum. No, Bubur Cha-Cha is not a dance move but a dessert that consists of cubes of sweet potatoes and yam in coconut milk soup. Malaysians are so creative with food that we turn ‘soup’ into desserts too. The ingredients are simple: Coconut milk, pandan leaves, peeled and cubed sweet potatoes and yam, sugar and finally salt. The key to a good bowl of Bubur Cha-Cha is the coconut milk soup.
So, first things first, boil a pot of water and then add coconut milk, pandan leaves, sugar and salt. Just in case you are wondering how much salt can affect your soup, remember to always give it a taste on and off throughout the process. That way you won’t turn your dessert soup into a savory one. When the soup is boiling, add the rest of the ingredients: Sweet potatoes and yam. If you like your Bubur Cha-Cha to be a tad fancier, you can stir in some boiled sago. They will appear as cute peek-a-boo elements when you dig in. When all the ingredients are added in, let it simmer on low heat for another 3 minutes and it is ready to be served. Have it hot, have it cold, and have it your way! This is one soup that smells like home but taste like coconut.
3. Kuih Keria
“Here is the Malaysian J-Co and Dunkin donuts.”
With all the stuffed, heavily chocolate-coated and rainbow sprinkled doughnuts out there in the market, do you ever crave for the doughnut that reminds you of the Mak Cik back from school? Kuih Keria’s the name! Also, fondly known as sweet potato doughnuts. These doughnuts are so simple in shape but extremely wonderful in flavor. Not only is the shape simple, the ingredient for this recipe is as simple as it can get too: Cooled and mashed sweet potatoes, plain flour and salt. Mix all of these ingredients together until dough is formed. If the mixture gets sticky, pat both palms with flour before shaping the dough into small rings. When all the rings are done, do not wear them around your fingers, it is time to heat the pan with oil. Once the oil is hot, fry the rings till they turn golden brown on both sides, remove them from the pan and drain the excess oil.
Something sticky missing? The sugar scabs! All you need to do is stir a cup of sugar and a bit of water in a pan until the sugar thickens. You have to be swifter than your fingers can count with this step. Stir in the doughnuts till the sugar crystallizes. Knock off excess sugar scabs and ~Voila~! Perfect doughnuts to increase your endorphins.
4. Kuih Lapis
“Sometimes I wonder if it’s the color of taste that gets to us.”
This is one of the rare food that mom allows us to play with. No one can resist the temptation to peel this cake layer after layer before gobbling it. Perhaps, the colors are the main culprit. So, to make this colorful dessert you will need rice flour, tapioca flour, water, castor sugar, coconut milk, pandan leaves juice and maybe some permitted red food coloring. Besides being creative in your studies, get experimental with food colors and try using natural produce instead, like beetroot juice for a pinkish hue. Alright, let’s get started! Sieve the tapioca and rice flour into a big bowl before adding sugar. After mixing it, press a dimple in the center for water and coconut milk. Whisk away! When the batter is smooth, divide it to 2. Remember the pandan juice you have earlier? Mix it into one of the portions, and mix the red coloring into the other.
Here comes the part that requires a lot of patience. Pour a ladle of green batter into a lightly greased tin till it covers the surface, making a thin layer and let it steam for 5 minutes. After that, pour the red batter till it covers the green layer. Get the rhythm now? Repeat the process till all the batter is finish. When all the layers are done, let the entire cake steam for another 15 minutes till it is a little translucent. As much as you want to cut into it right away, it is best to let it rest for 2 hours before slicing it. A good layer cake calls for equal layers of patience.
5. Red Bean & Glutinous Rice Soup
“Don’t this just bring back chilhood memories?”
Last but not least, another delicious soup. Thinking about home during the weekends? Put your assignments aside, throw your apron on and it is time to cook yourself a heart-warming dessert! To belt this recipe out, all you need is washed and drained red beans and black glutinous rice, mandarin orange peel, water and sugar. To start off, bring a pot of cold water to boil before adding the red beans and black glutinous rice. This is also when you add the mandarin peel but you can skip this step if you are not a fan of this ingredient. When the soup starts boiling, turn it down to medium heat and let it simmer with the lid slightly ajar. And because the beans and rice stick easily to the pot, remember to stir it every 30 minutes. This is not an examination; so, it is fine if it passes a little more than 30 minutes.
Add sugar according to your preference. Be mindful on the sugar quantity because a bowl of liquid sugar is not what we are going after. Let it simmer on low heat till the beans are tender and the soup is creamy. And there’s that—a bowl of warm, sweet but not overly sweet dessert. Easy as 1, 2, 3, isn’t it?
It’s absolutely normal to get home sick at some point when you are studying abroad. But don’t let these feelings get the better of you. Instead, think of the cool, delicious desserts you enjoy in Malaysia, like the ones mentioned above. Start cooking today, tomorrow, or anytime of the day. You may be far away from home, but home is wherever your heart thinks it is. So, cook up a storm and treat yourself to these desserts because hey, everybody deserves a little sweetness.
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