Thursday, December 4, 2008
KUIH LOPIS - PANDAN GLUTINOUS RICE CAKES WITH PALM SUGAR SYRUP
Since I still had left over banana leaves froma previous recipe, a good amount of glutinous rice and uncontrollable pandan bushes in my backyard I thought I'd venture on making some kuih lopis.
Kuih Lopis is a Malay cake or dessert made from glutinous rice flavoured and coloured with the juice of the pandanus(screwpine) leaves, wrapped snugly in banana leaves and boiled in pandan flavoured water. What comes out is a very compact and solid bundle of green glutinous rice which you then roll in flaked or shredded coconut and serve with a sweet thick palm sugar syrup. Mmmmm delish!
This was my first attempt at making this sweet in a triangular shape. I used to make it in a cylindrical shape and then slice it into rounds. Uh Uh...that wasn't good enough for me now. I have risen up a notch and I now want to make it triangular in shape BUT unfortunately I hadn't a clue how to do that.
But destiny gave me a big nod by way of the AFC channel. I couldn't believe my eyes and ears when I happened to switch to the AFC channel and saw a restaurant owner showing the host of "Just Desserts" how to wrap a triangular shaped kuih lopis. I sat stock still, bolt upright and absorbed every morsel of flicker that came through that tv screen. Thank you God.
1 2/2 cups glutinous rice soaked in water with pandan juice added
The Pandan Juice :
6-7 medium pandan leaves, washed
1/3 cup water
Blend the pandan leaves and water and strain the juice. Add it to the water to be used for soaking the glutinous rice. Soak the glutinous rice in this green tinted water. Most people would add a few drops of green colouring to this to achieve the bright green colour typical of Malay cakes. I was hoping that the pandan juice-coloured water would give me a nice healthy natural pandan green but unfortunately what evolved after cooking the rice was a very pale and subtle green. I thought it was quite beautiful but most people would expect a bright green.
After soaking for a night, strain the rice and reserve the water.
Prepare the banana leaves :
The banana leaves do not need to be wilted for this. Just use as is. Clean and wipe them down.
Cut the banana leaves into squares roughly 8' by 8'. Roll the square piece of leaf into a cone shape. Make sure the hole at the bottom is as tiny as possible so that the rice won't escape.
Wrap your hand around the empty banana leaf cone comfortably with the loose end/flap facing you and with the sharp end pointing downwards. Using a tablespoon pour some rice into the cone. About 2 tablespoons of glutinous rice should do it. If you cut your banana leaf square bigger then you can put more.
Once filled, fold the opened top of the cone down completely so that you get a nice snug triangular packet of glutinous rice.
Don't bother to leave space for expansion for when the rice cooks and fluffs up. Through trial and error I realized that the little space that I had left which I thought was for expansion was not necessary at all. Because I had left that space the glutinous rice was not as compact and as tightly packed as it should have been when I unwrapped it after I had done boiling it.
So just fold the top down snugly over the rice and using a sharp bamboo toothpick or lidi (the spine of the coconut leaf) secure the top of the folded edge with it by poking through in and out like in the picture. It will look a little messed up from this side but if you turn it around and look at it from the other side it will look slightly better.
You can trim the extra edges if you like but not too much. Do the same for the rest of the glutinous rice until everything has been used up. You should get about 10 triangular packets in all.
Place the water that you strained from soaking the rice into a large pot. Add additional water, enough to cover all the packets of rice comfortably. It should be somewhat green from the pandan juice. I wanted the green colouring of the water to tint the glutinous rice green further as it boiled. Bring the water to a boil and then place the rice packets in and let boil for 45 minutes, covered.
When done lift them out carefully and place in a colander and let cool.
Unwrap. Roll the triangles in shredded coconut seasoned with a little salt. Serve with a thick palm sugar syrup.
Palm Sugar Syrup :
I won't be giving measurements here because I did not measure when I made this. So please use your own judgement. In the picture below is a block of palm sugar.
Palm sugar in blocks.
Boil all three together and until you get a nice thick syrup. Pour the dark sweet syrup over the kuih lopis and enjoy!
TIP : The banana leaf has a thick rib running through it. When sold the rib has been cut away and the two large flaps are rolled and wrapped for sale. The cut edge (ie the edge that was along the rib is stiffer and less flexible than the outside edge of the leaf.
When rolling the banana leaf into a cone you should use the softer more flexible outside edge as the tip of the cone so that the leaf doesn't tear as you roll it to a tip. If you use the stiffer edge it will be quite impossible to roll it into a tight tip without tearing the leaf.
TIP : when folding down and securing with the toothpick make sure that there are no loose ends or flaps where the cone can come apart while boiling. Make sure everything is secured buy the toothpick and the rice is safe inside.