Indonesian

Kue Wajik / Kuih Wajik / Kuih Wajid

Kue Wajik / Kuih Wajik / Kuih Wajid decorated with pandan leaves, served on a white rectangular plate.

A healthy Southeast Asian dessert – Kue Wajik / Kuih Wajik / Kuih Wajid

Popular in Indonesia (especially in Java where the sweet holds great cultural significance), Malaysia and Brunei, kue wajik / kuih wajik / kuih wajid is a traditional chewy sweet rice cake made with glutinous rice (also known as sticky rice), palm sugar, thick coconut milk and pandan.

The cake is believed to have originated in Indonesia. It is particularly popular in Java, where wajik is held as a symbol of harmony and thus is often served at weddings.

In Indonesia it is known as “wajik ketan” (“ketan” means “glutinous rice” in Indonesian), “kue wajik” or just “wajik” (“kue” means “cake” in Indonesian), in Malaysia it is known as “kuih wajik” or just “wajik” (“kuih” means “cake in Malay) and in Brunei it is known as “kuih wajid” or just “wajid”.

In all three countries, the sweet is made with exactly the same ingredients – glutinous rice, coconut milk, palm sugar and pandan leaves. In all three countries, there are no fixed recipes for this sweet rice cake, with different families having their own variations to the preparation method passed down from generation to generation. Ingredient quantities were also rarely strictly measured out and instead involved guesswork and estimations.

While the ingredients are the same, the manner of serving the cake differs – in Indonesia and Malaysia it is usually served cut into diamonds (in connection with the name of the cake – “wajik” means “diamond” in Indonesian) whereas in Brunei individual bite-sized pieces of the sweet cake are painstakingly enveloped in rectangular banana leaf packets.

In Brunei, wajid is traditionally made with a Javanese variety of rice known as “beras Jawa” (“beras” means “rice” in Indonesian and Malay) and the resulting wajid is referred to as “wajid Jawa”.

Fresh, good quality ingredients are paramount for a quality outcome. While canned, UHT, powdered coconut milk can be used, freshly squeezed coconut milk yields a considerably superior result. Palm sugar (known as “gula jawa” in Indonesia and “gula melaka” in Malaysia) contributes a distinct flavor and color to the sweet which refined sugar or brown sugar cannot match. Palm sugar, being unrefined by nature is considered to be healthier than refined sugar thus making this sweet a relatively healthy treat to enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup glutinous rice
  • 5-6 tablespoons hot water
  • 1/3 – 1 cup palm sugar
  • 1/2 cup thin coconut milk
  • 4 pandan leaves – tied to a knot
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk
  • Banana leaves

Method:

Wash glutinous rice.

Soak glutinous rice overnight.

Drain water from soaked glutinous rice.

Steam glutinous rice with 2 pandan leaves.

When glutinous rice is about 3/4 cooked, add about 5-6 tablespoons of hot water and let steam again until the glutinous rice is cooked and soft.

Once glutinous rice is cooked stop heat.

Grease a tin or baking tray.

In a heavy-bottom pot, boil thin coconut milk and palm sugar until the palm sugar is completely dissolved.

Strain this palm sugar syrup to remove any impurities.

Return palm sugar syrup to heavy-bottom pot, add salt and the remaining two pandan leaves.

Cook for a while, stirring continuously until it bubbles.

Add coconut milk slowly and stir continuously.

Reduce heat and simmer, stirring continuously until mixture thickens.

Transfer cooked glutinous rice into the mixture.

Cook, stirring frequently until the liquid evaporates and the mixture is a glossy, thick, pliable mass.

Immediately pour the mixture into the tin / baking tray.

Using a banana leaf, press down the cake.

Cover the cake with banana leaves.

Set aside at room temperature to cool.

Cut into diamonds.

 

Mung Bean Porridge (Bubur Kacang Hijau / Bubur Kacang Ijo)

Bubur Kacang Hijau (sometimes known as “Bubur Kacang Ijo” in Indonesia), is a creamy and comforting sweet mung bean porridge. “Bubur” means “porridge”, “kacang” means “beans” and “hijau” means “green” in the Malay language which is the national language of Indonesia and Malaysia. Although Indonesian Malay and Malaysian Malay are essentially the same in that they are derived from the original Malay language, the two languages have slight differences with some words having different meanings, spelling and syntax.

Like many other dishes such as satay and rendang, this mung bean porridge is a “shared dish” having a place in both Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine although it is more popularly consumed in Indonesia. Often eaten warm, it is an ideal dessert for cold/wintery days although it could also be enjoyed chilled on hot days.

Nourishing mung beans, creamy coconut milk (known as “santan” in Malay) and fragrant pandan leaves are combined and sweetened with an unrefined form of palm sugar (known as “gula jawa” in Indonesia or “gula melaka” in Malaysia) to bring out a dessert that is not just delicious but nutritious as well. Gula jawa or gula melaka not only sweetens but adds a very distinctive flavor which cannot be replaced with modern-day refined sugar. Add gula jawa / gula melaka to your taste, some like the porridge very sweet while some like it mildly sweetened. The coconut milk may curdle when boiled together with the gula jawa / gula melaka so add it after boiling the milk.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup mung beans
  • Gula jawa / gula melaka – as desired
  • 2-3 pandan leaves – tied to a knot
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk
  • Water as required to cook mung beans
  • 1 cm piece ginger
  • Pinch of salt

Method:

Wash and soak the mung beans in water for at least 12 hours or overnight. Soaking helps soften the beans and reduce cooking time.

Bruise the ginger or pound in a pestle and mortar till bruised but not finely crushed.

Combine the soaked mung beans, ginger, padan leaves and water as required to cook the mung beans.

Cook the beans over medium heat until beans are well cooked and very soft. If it’s too dry, add a bit of water.

Once beans are softened, pour coconut milk, pinch of salt, and bring to a boil over low heat.

Once boiling, stop heat.

To serve, dish out some mung bean porridge into a bowl and sweeten with crushed gula jawa / gula melaka as desired.