Tuesday, 11 May 2010

One Day we made Onde Onde - more Cultural Exchange

Malaysia is famous for its Kueh - pronouned Kway. What the heck is Kueh I hear you say. Well, it's a bit hard to explain but let me try anyway. It's kind of the equivalent of the western pastry - although its not really a pastry. Maybe it'll be easier explained as a sweetmeat. Then again, that's not really all that apt. Maybe the best way to explain it would be to say it's an Asian Cake. Perhaps not quite the best way to explain it but possibly the easiest way!

Kueh-mueh is the plural of Kueh and Malaysia has many Kueh-Mueh. It's available at breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner - anytime at all and like the western pastry, is usually a dessert or mouth sweetener - usually sweet although sometimes there are savoury ones too. There are so many varieties of Kueh-mueh and all of them are delicious.

Mostly, the Kueh are usually made with ingredients that include coconut, or conut milk, pandan leaves(screwpine leaves also known as pandanus leaves) and gula melaka. Incidentally, my very first Cultural Exchange post featured Gula Melaka.

Another key ingredient in kuih is of course flour. However, wheat flour is seldom is hardly ever used. Instead, the flour used for kuih takes the form of rice flour, pulut (glutinous rice), pulut flour and even tapioca and tapioca flour. Sometimes green peas are used as well.

My son loves his Kueh while my little princess enjoys it as well, but not as much as my son. The Lovely Wife and I also enjoy our Kueh and it's always a treat to buy Kueh from the local market, hawkers or food courts. The Lovely Wife refers to the Kueh sellers as the Koi-koi man - a play on the word Kueh. This term is used by quite a few people in Malaysia too!

My son's favourite kueh is Onde-Onde (pronounced as Oanday-Oanday although the 'oan' would be very short). Basically, its a ball of glutinous flour with a filling of liquid Gula Melaka and covered in lightly salted grated coconut. The balls are boiled and the texture would be slightly sticky and chewy - perhaps like a gnocchi? When you pop the ball into your mouth and bite on it, the gula melaka explodes in your mouth - pure heaven to your taste buds!

The Lovely Wife has a couple of books on Kueh - one of which the kids got her for Christmas - and one day, she decided to make Onde-Onde. I decided to help and we consulted both the books. One is by Rohani Jelani called Malaysian cakes and desserts while the other is a collection called Hot Favourites Kueh - author unspecified.

This is what we did:

300g glutinous rice flour
10-12 pandan leaves
150ml water
1/2 tsp alkaline water
180g gula melaka - finely chopped
100g grated coconut

Combine grated coconut and salt and steam for about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Blend pandan leaves with the water in a food processor. Strain to remove the solids and set the juice aside. Mix the juice together with alkaline water and then add into the sifted flour.

Knead well to form a smooth dough. Cover the dough with a damp cloth to prevent drying. bring a large pan of water to the boil then lower heat to simmering. Pinch a small piece of dough (about 2cm) and flatten into a disk. Drop the dough into the water till it cooks and rises to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon, shake off excess water and knead the cooked dough into the rest of the dough.
If dough seems to sticky, add in a litte more glutinous rice flour.

Pinch of small balls of dough the size of small limes and roll in your palms to form smoot balls. Carefully make a small well in the dough and fill with some gula melaka. Pinch the top to seal the sugar inside and then roll gentlty Alternatively, flatten the balls a little like a dumpling and fill with gula melaka before sealing the top and gently rolling it smooth with your palms. Be careful as the gula melaka will cause the dough to sweat and it can leak out.

Drop the balls gently into the simmering water. Don't overcrowd. When the balls are cooked, they will float to the top. Gently remove with a slotted spoon and then allow the water to drain. Toll the balls in the salted coconut. Transfer to a serving plate.

Yes, all in all a rather complicated recipe but the results are well worth it! It takes quite a bit of skill to keep the gula melaka inside when rolling and some of it actually leaked out when cooking.

Granted, the onde onde that we made wasn't quite as good as the ones we get from the kueh man but it was still very good. Nothing is quite so satisfying as making something at home that you would never dream of making.

Best part though, is that my son was pleased as punch with the homemade onde onde. He too admitted that the bought ones tasted better but he was just so thrilled that we could make it at home!

He couldn't stop stuffing his face with them and that, in itself, was worth all the hard work!


Ms. Kong Piang: said...

I love those, tiny squirts of sweet gula melaka with coconut, please make them for me soon.

Foodycat said...

Amazing! Does the gula melaka melt? How does it get liquid?

Dee said...

I love the look on your kiddo's face! Priceless. Questions: where did you find the alkaline water. And can I pesan?

Bellini Valli said...

Michael's face says it all Dharm:D

Kavs said...

Just saw them make Onde-onde on an Aussie show and the chef had an easier method to keep the sugar in. She rolled up shaved Gula Melaka into small balls, then just placed those balls into the middle of the dough piece and rolled it up.

Dharm said...

Foodycat - the gula melaka melts due to the heat. Gula Melaka always melts and stays liquid with heat.

Dee - Got the Alkaline water from Bake with Yen, or was it Bagus (Shah Alam). One of the baking shops...

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Hehe look at his face! I think you made his day with these-or his week really! :)

Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen said...

This is such a great post Dharm! Your son is just so cute! I love these kinds of pastries, although they are hard to find. But pastries without wheat are very cool, indeed!

Thanks for stopping by my blog - life has been really hectic, with the move just happening. Check out my facebook page, the pictures tell it all!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

That last picture is definitely selling the food!

Elle said...

That expression on your son's face is surely worth all the work. It does sound like a sweet gnocchi with salted coconut...sounds wonderful!

Cakelaw said...

These sound wonderful - I have never tried anything like them. LOL at your son's face - you can see he loves them.

breadchick said...

OH wow! I've never heard of these before but you can bet I'm going to keep my eyes out for them on my next visit to your part of the world.


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