Klepon is green glutinous rice ball filled with palm sugar and coated with fresh grated coconut and have a distinct pandan aroma. It is chewy when you bite them but be careful because the palm sugar could burst like an explosion of sweet. It is best to be eaten whole and let them explode in your mouth. Klepon is best served fresh on banana leaves. It is best eaten on the day of making it or otherwise they could be spoiled by the freshly grated coconut or the glutinous ball will be harden the next day. You usually find them in the traditional market really early in the morning because they are one of the favorites.
I guess we never really know where is the original Klepon came from, whether they are Indonesian or Malaysian. In Malaysia, Klepon is called Onde-onde. In my hometown, it is also called Onde-onde or Onde-onde Lokan as my grandmother calls them. I live in Sumatra island, to be exact Pekanbaru – Riau. Geographically, Riau is located really close to Malaysia. It only takes about 30 minutes by plane or 2.5 hours by boat to go to Melaka from my place. So, we are practically neighbors. That is probably one of the reasons why we have so much in common like languages, foods, and cultures. I am not even want to start to argue which one is ours and which one is theirs. After all we are neighbors, and good neighbors share and look after each other.
Anyway, back to the original topic of interest. Before I have a son, I used to participate in opening a food stall in several Indonesian food festival in Sydney, Australia. There will be plenty of Indonesian festivals held during the month of May up till August. I always prepared traditional Indonesian sweets and desserts like Klepon, Kue Lapis Sagu, Kue Lapis Singkong, Bolu Kukus, Cenil Sate, Lapis Legit, Lapis Surabaya, Bubur Ketan Hitam, Bubur Kacang Ijo, Biji Salak. Klepon is always the winner, because it is really easy and quick to make and the profit is outstanding. Klepon is also a crowd magnet, it has this ability to draw crowd to our stall.
So, here is some tips before making your Klepon:
- Back in Indonesia, I always make my own pandan paste. It is really worth the effort. Although they have a splendid unique aroma, their extract will never give a bright leafy green colour like pandan pasta, so you have to use Suji leaves. Honestly, I can’t really tell the difference between both of them from the appearance, but Suji leaves have no aroma. I like to use just pandan leaves despite the dull green colour, because I love the colour and extra aroma. In order to do that, I have to use generous amount of Pandan leaves. On the other hand, I couldn’t afford to do that here in Australia.
- Using freshly grated coconut really makes a different to your Klepon. However they are not always conveniently available, so I have to use dessicated coconut. Remember though, if you are using fresh grated coconut, always steam them first and sprinkle some salt on them, it will help to make them last till the end of the day.
- I always make my palm sugar balls the night before. Making round palm sugar balls by using your hands really help speed up the making of Klepon. The other advantage is that you could avoid the contamination of palm sugar to the surface of the uncooked Klepon because palm sugar always stick to your fingers, and it could make the cooked Klepon looks like it has a leakage of palm sugar.
- Honestly, I never measure the water to mix to the flour. Just add your water a little at a time while you mix them and stop adding the water when the mixture has turn into a dough consistency. When your dough is cracked because of long time exposure to the air, you could add a little water and knead them again.
- 500 gr of glutinous rice flour
- 170 ml of water (preferably the water extracted from pandan and suji leaves)
- 125 gr grated palm sugar fresh grated coconut or desiccated coconut for coating
- pandan pasta for aroma and colour
- water for boiling
- If using the leaves, boil pandan (for aroma) and suji (for colour) leaves in water. Let it simmer for 15 minutes. Blend it in the juicer and reserve the juice. Let it sit to cool down.
- In a big bowl, mix the flour with the reserve juice or water with a dash of pandan pasta (up till your colour preferences).
- Using your hand, knead the mixture until forming a dough like texture. The mixture shouldn’t stick to your hand or crack easily when you roll them into balls.
- Roll the mixture into small ball, press it so you could put a palm sugar inside it, and roll them back into the ball.
- Boil water in a big pan. Put the balls in. The balls are ready when they float to the surface. Coat them with the grated coconut.
- If the mixture starts to dry up and have cracks on them, add a little bit more water and knead them again.
- If using the fresh grated coconut, steam the coconut first and add 1/4 tsp of ground salt.
Preparation time (duration): 30
Culinary tradition: Indonesian
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