Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pulut Serikaya

Pulut Serikaya is a popular Nyonya kuih mainly found in Malacca. It is a two-layer kuih, bottom being the  glutinous rice steamed with coconut milk and the top is a yellow custard base with a mixture of thick coconut milk, eggs, sugar and some flour, usually some yellow colouring is added to enhance the colour of kaya, (a popular egg jam similar to the topping, hence the name). Though, the more common ones are known as Pulut Serimuka, it has the same rice glutinous base, and gets the  flavour and colour from the green pandan leaves, sometimes some green colouring may be added to enhance the colour of the pandan leaves. Pulut Serimuka can be easily found sold in most stalls that sells kuihs.

My mom told us that the difference between these two kuihs, is, Pulut Serimuka, the one with the green topping, is common among the Malays and can be found throughout Malaysia whereby Pulut Serikaya, the other with the yellow kaya topping, definitely belongs to the Nyonyas of Malacca, even though they are considered the same by many who are not aware of  the difference between these two kuihs. 

I have not seen Pulut Serikaya being sold here, where I live. The only time that I get to eat this delicious kuih is when I'm back in my hometown, Malacca, or when I made my own, which I have not done so in such a long time. Since Aspiring Bakers, theme for October is "Traditional Kuih", now seems a good time to make this again. Though I enjoy eating Pulut Serimuka, my preference has always been Pulut Serikaya. 

This recipe was passed down from my mother.  My Mom did not have any exact measurement, as everything that she made was by the "feel" and self-estimation. So when she passed on the recipe to us, it was just the ingredients with an estimation in quantity. Just like my Mom, I have made this in the past based on the '"feel" and self-estimation, but for this time, I have measured precisely what I have used. The Nyonyas love to use the Bunga Telang (clitoria ternatea or blue pea flower), where they are pounded to a mash, and squeezed out the beautiful indigo colour that is used as a natural dye for the rice. I did not use this, as I could not find my packet of dried bunga telang! If using dried Bunga Telang, they need to be soaked in warm water first.

Many of the traditional kuihs in Malaysia uses coconut milk. We are lucky that to buy freshly squeezed coconut milk is so convenient. They are sold in markets and even most grocery stores sell freshly squeezed coconut milk as and when you need them.

Let's make some Pulut Serikaya !

Glutinous Rice is washed clean and soaked in cool water for at least 4 hours. Rinse and drain. Place rice in a shallow steaming tray. Randomly place the pieces of pandan leaves embedded in the rice, cover rice with the salted coconut milk.

Place the tray on a steamer rack.

Cover and steam over high heat for about 30 minutes. This precious steamer set was given to me by my Mom, where she has cooked and steamed hundreds of kuihs in.

After 30 minutes, fluff up rice with fork, discard pandan leaves.

Press down rice on pan, making sure it is compact and firm. You may use the same tray or transfer to two smaller trays. Place the pan back in the steamer and steam for another 15 minutes.

To make the custard : Eggs are beaten lightly, mix in the sugar and coconut milk. Whisk until sugar has completely dissolved. Add in the flours, whisk to combine until there are no lumps.

Strain the custard mixture to remove any lumps.

Pour custard mixture over the rice in the pan and steam for a further 30 minutes over medium-low heat until cooked and set.

 Leave the kuih to cool completely in pan, preferably overnight, or at least 5-6 hours.

 Pulut Serikaya is traditionally served cut in daimond shaped slices. You many cut it in squares or rectangles, whichever you prefer.

 Miniature diamond shaped slices, with a toothpick inserted in each piece, great for a party or a get-together.

This is truly delicious! The custard has the perfect balance, the texture is not too hard or soft, with the right amount of sweetness. The rice is tasty with the salty coconut milk, not too dry or soft, just the right texture. One of my very favourite kuih!

I'm submitting this to "Aspiring Bakers #12 : Traditional Kuih (October 2011) hosted by Small Small Baker.

Pulut Serikaya
(by kitchen flavours)
makes two 8" pans
For the Bottom Layer
600gm glutinous rice
200ml thick coconut milk, add some water to equal 650ml
3/4 tsp salt
2 pandan leaves, cut to three sections each

Wash glutinous rice until water runs clear. Soak rice in cool water at least 4 hours or overnight.
Get the steamer ready with rapidly boiling water. Rinse and drain the glutinous rice. Place in a big round shallow tray, about 12" diameter. In a medium mixing bowl or measuring cup, mix the thick coconut milk, adding some water to equals 650ml. Add in the salt and stir until dissolved. Cut the pandan leaves into three sections and randomly place the leaves, embedded in the glutinous rice in the tray. Pour the coconut milk mixture over the glutinous rice. It should just cover the rice, barely visible. Place the tray carefully in the steamer, cover and steam over high heat for about 30 minutes. Top up water at steamer base if necessary.

At the end of 30 minutes, remove tray from steamer, be careful, do not position your hand anywhere directly over the steamer where the steam is, to avoid scalding your hands over the hot steam from the steamer base. Fluff up rice with a fork, discard all the pandan leaves, turning rice all over. Press down rice firmly using a rice spatula (or with a piece of banana leaf or a piece of aluminium foil which works as well). Make sure the rice is pressed down firmly and compact. Place the steamer rack with the tray back on, and steam for a further 15 minutes. Remove the steamer rack  from heat and pour the topping over, bubbles may appear on the topping, which is normal. Just use a spoon to burst the bubbles or scoope them out. Place steam rack back on again, reduce the heat to medium low and top up the steamer base with water if necessary. Cover and steam for about 30 minutes until custard is completely cooked and set. Remove and leave to cool at room temperature, preferably overnight or at least 5-6 hours. Cut and slice to the traditional diamond shapes and serve. Enjoy!

For the Custard Layer
2 eggs
400ml thick coconut milk plus 250ml water
300gm granulated sugar
130gm plain all-purpose flour
80gm custard powder
pinch of yellow food colouring (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Add in coconut milk mixture and sugar. Whisk with a hand-whisk until sugar has completely dissolved. Add in flour, custard powder and pinch of yellow food colouring. Whisk to combine until there are no more lumps. Strain mixture to another bowl. Pour over the cooked glutinous rice as directed above.

(notes: I steamed the rice in a big 12" diameter shallow pan, and separate them into two 8" square pans after fluffing up the rice. Press down rice until compact and steam again for about 15 minutes. Pour half the custard in each pan and steam again for about 25-30 minutes until custard is cooked and set).




  1. I love all kuih. Please share with me some :D

  2. Wow! dear this look amazing ad really nice!!! gloria

  3. I miss all the kuihs in Malaysia. This pulut serikaya is absolutely delicious. I used to make this quite often base on a recipe from Florence Tan's cookbook. I think she is a nyonya from Melaka. I need to make this again soon :)

  4. What a great authentic recipe! Looks so sweet and delicious!

  5. Beautiful kueh recipe! I love the colours.

  6. Yum! This sounds delicious. I'm wondering if the Filipinos have a version of this treat.

  7. Yum! I love serimuka and used to make it quite often but now that my pandan bush has been destroyed to make way for development, i don't make it anymore. Must try this serikaya of yours:)

  8. Thanks for sharing your Mother's recipe , I love seri muka, I must make this soon.

  9. Hello, I really love this, one of my favourites. This and kueh bingka.
    Fortunately my wife learned to make these long ago, she not a Nyonya but learned from my Nyonya aunties....
    Your's look really fantastic, and one mouthful will buat malu parentage and upbringing ask for 2 or 3pieces.

    I love your colours especially, and the texture, with your typical Nyonya finesse and dexterity. Outstanding!
    You have a nice day and keep a song in your heart.

  10. Ive been thinkg of making this for the past few weeks but never got round to it..i have some bunga telang in my fridge...heehee..

  11. nice kuih, joyce!! a custard top sounds just as delicious as kuih seri muka! not sure whether i've eaten this before , you see nowadays the kuihs come in so many layers and colours, i find it difficult to know those kuihs..i think their own creation!!

  12. wow....what a wonderful texture !!!!just loved it very much....will definitely try this recipe sometimes !

  13. I remember eating lots of these beautiful Nonya classic. Your kueh is so perfectly made. Wow!

  14. i've seen these sweets but never tried them, look so pretty.

  15. The dish sounds so lovely and pretty. Thanks for introducing this treat.

  16. I want to try this! thanks fo sharing.

  17. I love the idea of a custard sushi! LOL! That is what I am going to call it. I mean i know its not sushi but the rice base on bottom and cute little design shapes make me think sushi. the custard base sounds amazing and so delicious

  18. a lot of work but every effort is worth it, i must say!!! hurrah to melaka nyonyas!!!!!

  19. What a wonderful dessert, do not know, it looks beautiful, I'd love to try, who knows one day I do not do a view to Malaysia:))
    Kisses dear.

  20. How did I miss this post?? Sigh, too busy! Thanks for sharing this recipe. I especially appreciate the step-by-step photos. Your mum is right, I've never seen a serikaya before, just serimuka. Wish I can have some of your treat! :)

  21. Is it,ok if i cool it down in fridge after i steam it?
    Thank you

    1. Hi, it would be at its best when eaten at room temperature. It will be too hot right after steaming, to place it in your fridge! Advisable to cool it at room temperature, where the flavours and texture will be at its best. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge, bring it back to room temperature before eating.
      Thank you for stopping by!

  22. Hi, i had tried yr recipe. The kuih is nice. Thanks for sharing. But i have two questions.
    why is the surface is wavy? I tot it suppose to b flat? How to make it flat? Btw, i half the recipe n use only one 8" pan but the custard layer is too thin.... pls advice.

    1. Hi Josephine,
      To have a flat surface, do not steam over rapidly boiling water with high heat. Steam the custard over medium-low heat.
      If you prefer a thicker layer of custard, perhaps you can increase the ingredients for the custard, and steam it a little longer to ensure that it is fully cooked.
      Thank you for trying out the recipe!

  23. Hi joyce,
    thank u for yr reply.
    I already steam in very low heat. Do u think i shd wrap w cling wrap or alum foil ?
    How to increase the custard layer?
    Wat is the ratio i shd increase?

    1. Hi Josephine,
      I have never tried wrapping the top with foil before. Try this, when the water in the steaming pot comes to a rolling boil, add about 2 cups of cold tap water, turn down the heat to low, then place the kuih with the custard mixture on the steaming rack and steam, maintaining at a low heat. I hope this helps.
      And the ratio of the custard ingredients, if you add on half of one ingredient, then just add half of the rest of the ingredients. Or double all the ingredients, depends on your own preference, just remember to increase the steaming time.