I was 15 years old when I made my first onde onde. It wasn’t because I wanted to but I had to. As part of the final Home Economics school exam 3 course menu – I had to make an entree, main and dessert. Onde onde was the chosen one for dessert/snack. We had been given the menu options with the recipe a month early to prepare.
For a teenager who doesn’t cook at home, surely that was a horrible and scary experience. Well, it was. But honestly, I think my family felt the ‘real’ pain – stomach pain, that is, because they were the guinea pigs and they had lots of bad ones. Of course, with my family’s support, I scored well with my onde onde 🙂 So, I thank my family for that.
Let me introduce to you what this little ball of goody goodness is. It’s a traditional Malaysian Nyonya kueh made of glutinous rice flour and sweet potato with oozy juicy gula melaka (dark palm sugar) filling.
How do you differentiate the good ones from the bad ones? Easy – the good ones are (1) plump and tender when you bite, (2) juicy and sweet when you taste, with (3) fragrant & salty aftertaste. The ideal onde onde should have the gula melaka juice bursting out when you bite. It’s a delicious (delicious) snack enjoyed by many Malaysians 🙂 My lil’ one’s all-time fave snack!
I have tried making onde onde a few times in Australia but the dough doesn’t seem to taste right. The texture wasn’t as bouncy and tender as I had remembered. And after failing couple of times, I thought it was my technique but after trying this recipe, the hunt stop because I got my perfect bouncy little balls 🙂 The secret ingredient is the sweet potato…
To achieve the same result, make sure you use gula melaka (dark palm sugar) in this recipe. The light-coloured palm sugar found at most Asian grocers are not as sweet and aromatic as their darker cousin. The dark palm sugar can be found at Asian grocers and it’s sold in cylinders wrapped in plastic, manufactured from Malaysia or Indonesia.
So, what are you waiting for, do something different with Easter this weekend and start making these little balls of goodness.
Malaysian Onde Onde (adapted from Pang Nyuk Yoon’s Reviving Street Hawker)
Makes approximately 30 balls
450g glutinous rice flour
300g sweet potatoes, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup grated gula melaka (dark palm sugar)
6 pcs fresh pandan leaves, rinsed and cut
1 cup grated coconut
1/2 tsp salt
1. Mix grated coconut with salt in a bowl and set aside. Pound the cut pandan leaves together with 2 tsp water. Then squeeze the leaves together to extract the pandan juice, used for flavouring. Add the green colouring and set aside.
2. Place the sweet potatoes in a heat proof plate and steam until they are cooked through. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Mash with a fork.
3. Mix the glutinous rice flour and water in different mixing bowl. Add the mashed sweet potato into the dough. Continue to knead the dough with hands. Then drizzle the pandan juice little by little and continue to knead until it is well mixed into the dough to obtain the correct texture. The dough should not feel sticky but instead soft and tender. If it feels sticky, add some glutinous rice flour and continue kneading.
4. Spoon about 1 tbsp of dough and flatten it. Place 1 tsp of grated gula melaka at the centre of the dough. Bring the edges together and seal them. Then clasp between the palms and gently mould into balls. Repeat until the dough is consumed.
5. Bring a pot of water to boil. Gently place the rice balls into the pot and cook till the balls float right up to the surface. Scoop them up and roll on the grated coconut. Serve.
Enjoy and Happy Easter!