5 Nonya Kueh Recipes That Will Impress Even Your Grandma

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nonya kueh recipes singapore
(Credit: Ketam putar [Cropped] / Wikimedia Commons, SG Kueh Official Store [Cropped])

Delicious and eye-catching sweet treats, nonya kuehs are colourful bite-sized cakes that are often enjoyed as a snack or dessert dish. Deeply rooted in Southeast Asian culture, making these kuehs are a labour of love as it takes time to simmer the custards and steam the rice. While your grandma might have her own treasure trove of nonya kueh recipes, here’s a list of five traditional nonya kueh recipes for you to try and colour her impressed! 

1. Ondeh Ondeh

Ondeh ondeh is one of the most popular nonya kuehs in Singapore and around the region. These green gula melaka filled glutinous rice balls are known to burst-in-your-mouth and will definitely be a hit with friends and family. Think you need top-notch culinary expertise to make these? They are actually surprisingly quick and easy to make. Don’t just take our word for it, read on!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: ~5 minutes
Servings: 3

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 100g palm sugar (chopped)
  • 20 pandan leaves
  • 150ml water
  • 100g glutinous rice flour
  • 40g tapioca flour
  • 30g sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 100g fresh grated coconut

Recipe Instructions:

  1. Chop up pandan leaves (available on LHH Vegetable) and throw them into the blender along with the water and blend until the mixture is smooth and even
  2. Obtain your pandan extract by pouring the mixture into a bowl over a cheesecloth (make sure nothing goes to waste by squeezing as much extract out of the cheesecloth as you can), then set the extract aside
  3. Sieve the Erawan glutinous rice flour (available on Food People Official Store), tapioca flour, sugar and salt into a bowl
  4. Slowly introduce the pandan extract into the bowl while kneading the mixture. Add more water if the mixture is too dry and lumpy.
  5. Divide the dough into even portions – you can vary this according to the size of ondeh ondeh you want to eat!
  6. Roll these portions into balls and create an indent in the middle of each ball. Fill each indent with palm sugar and seal the dough.
  7. Gently dip the palm sugar-filled balls into a pot of boiling water – make sure you continually swirl the water to prevent the glutinous rice balls from sticking to the edges of the pot 
  8. Look out for when the balls begin to float. Once afloat, leave them in the water for another two minutes.
  9. Fish out the rice balls from the water and coat them with grated coconut (available on ckhfoodtrading). Leave to cool before enjoying this morsel of heaven!

2. Kueh Dadar

Have you ever wanted to try a Southeast Asian version of a crepe? Kueh dadar is just that! Fragrant gula melaka infused grated coconut wrapped in a thin and soft pandan-flavoured crepe, these kuehs make for a yummy tea time snack. What’s more, this nonya kueh recipe only uses basic cooking techniques and commonly found ingredients, making it simple even for beginners!

Prep Time: 60 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12 pieces

Recipe Ingredients:

For Coconut Filling:

  • 500g grated coconut
  • 200g palm sugar (chopped)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 pandan leaves (knotted)
  • 3 tbsp water

For Pandan Juice:

  • 50g pandan leaves
  • 200ml water

For Crepe Batter:

  • 200g all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 500ml coconut milk
  • 200ml pandan juice
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Pinch of salt

Recipe Instructions:

  1. Start making the pandan juice by blending the pandan leaves with water and straining the blend into a bowl with a muslin cloth (available on withbetterdeal)
  2. Add all the crepe batter ingredients into a large mixing bowl and whisk the mixture until you get a batter with a smooth consistency. Leave it to rest for 30 minutes.
  3. Cook all the ingredients for the coconut filling in a pan over low heat. Cook the brown grated coconut till it’s slightly wet and not too dry. Leave the coconut filling to cool.
  4. It’s time to make the crepes! Grease a pan with an oiled kitchen towel and set the stove to medium heat.
  5. Ladle some batter onto the pan. Then tilt the pan around to ensure that the crepe will be thin and even. Let the batter cook for 30 seconds. Repeat this until you have no more batter.
  6. Once cooked, transfer the crepe to a piece of baking paper or kitchen paper towel. Then place two spoonfuls of coconut filling in the centre of the crepe — you can add a more generous amount if you’d like. Fold the crepe in a clockwise direction.
  7. Slice the Kueh dadar and present it on a plate or just munch right into them!

3. Nonya Kueh Lapis

The colourful and chewy nonya Kueh lapis will surely evoke a sense of nostalgia. Although a little more time consuming, the end product is definitely worth it! Bonus: Experiment with other food colourings to give your nonya Kueh lapis a personal touch.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 20 pieces

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 600ml water
  • 400g castor sugar
  • 10 pandan leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 250g tapioca flour
  • 200g rice flour
  • 600ml coconut cream (chilled)
  • Green and red food colouring
  • 1 tsp oil (to grease pan)

Recipe Instructions:

  1. Twist and tie the pandan leaves into a bundle. Then add the pandan leaves into a pot of boiling water, along with the caster sugar. Allow for the contents to simmer for about five minutes until the sugar has dissolved — you’ll have your pandan syrup!
  2. Pour the syrup into a large bowl through a sieve. Then add the chilled coconut milk and salt into the syrup.
  3. Mix the tapioca and rice flour into a separate bowl. Once the syrup has cooled, introduce the powdered mixture into syrup in portions and whisk away!
  4. Sieve the batter into a clean bowl to ensure that there are no lumpy chunks. Then divide the batter into three equal portions. Add red food colouring to one portion and green food colouring to another, leaving the last portion untouched.
  5. Grease the bottom and sides of a square tin (available on Home Protective Hat) with oil to prevent sticking. Pour the white batter into the tin and place the tin into a Toshiba Pure Steam Oven (available on Toshiba Official Store) and allow the batter to steam for four minutes.
  6. Gently press on the first layer of the nonya Kueh lapis to check if it has set. Then pour in enough green batter to completely cover the first kueh layer and steam the batter for three minutes.
  7. Repeat this process until you have nine layers (alternating between white, green and red). Then steam the kueh for another ten minutes.
  8. Remove the square tin from the steam oven and allow it to cool for four to six hours. Then release the nonya Kueh lapis from the tin with a greased spatula. Slice the kueh into equal portions and serve. Bonus: Get creative with your nonya Kueh lapis presentation by peeling and folding the kueh’s layers.

4. Kueh Salat (Putri Salat)

Kueh salat, also known as Putri salat, is a double-layered kueh that pairs a creamy kaya custard with a sticky rice layer. This sweet and savoury treat combines the main ingredients of the two layers to give you a burst of flavours in your mouth. If you love kaya toast, you’d love Kueh Salat! While preparing it can be time-consuming, we found this recipe surprisingly simple with minimal preparation required and a straightforward cooking process. Give this nonya kueh recipe a shot!

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 18 pieces

Recipe Ingredients:

Kaya Layer:

  • 10 eggs (medium)
  • 100g pandan juice
  • 200g sugar
  • 400g coconut cream
  • 1/4 tsp pandan paste
  • 5 tsp cornstarch
  • 30g tapioca starch

Rice Layer:

  • 300g Japanese white rice
  • 450g water
  • 120g coconut cream
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 10g dried butterfly pea flower

Recipe Instructions:

  1. Cook Komeya Tokusen Japanese Rice (available on S-Mart by Shopee Official Store) in a rice cooker 
  2. While waiting for the rice to cook, start making the kaya layer by first adding all the kaya layer ingredients (except tapioca starch) into a large bowl and whisking until smooth. Then place the bowl over a pot of simmering hot water and whisk continuously until the kaya mixture thickens.
  3. When your mixture is thick and creamy, remove the bowl from the pot and allow it to cool slightly.
  4. Sieve the tapioca starch into the mixture and stir until no lumps can be seen
  5. Once the rice is cooked, pour the coconut cream for the rice layer, along with two pinches of salt into the cooked rice and mix thoroughly
  6. Transfer the rice to a lined square pan and flatten it into an even layer
  7. To give the rice layer its blue tint, drizzle some butterfly pea flower solution onto the rice. Make the flower solution by soaking RedMan Dried Butterfly Pea Flower (available on S-Mart by Shopee Official Store) in hot water. 
  8. Scoop the kaya mixture into the square pan and spread it evenly over the rice layer. Then place the square pan into a steamer and steam it for 45 minutes.
  9. Remove the Kueh salat from the pan and slice it into equal portions – enjoy your aromatic and tasty kaya rice kueh!

5. Ang Ku Kueh

Directly translating to “red tortoiseshell cakes”, ang ku kuehs are traditional nonya kuehs that are often filled with tau sar (mung bean) or peanut paste. Ang ku kuehs are one of the most well-loved local snacks in Singapore! We aren’t going to sugar-coat things though, It’s a nonya kueh that is challenging to make but will definitely draw praises from family and friends. Put your culinary skills to the test by trying out this nonya kueh recipe at your next family gathering!  

Prep Time: 120 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 20 pieces

Recipe Ingredients:

For Shaping and Garnishing:

  • 50g glutinous rice flour (for moulding)
  • Ang ku kueh mould
  • 20 square pieces of banana leaves
  • 4 tbsp oil

For Dough:

  • 200g sweet potato (peeled and sliced into chunks) 
  • 250g glutinous rice flour 
  • 150ml coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp castor sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 100ml water
  • 1 tsp red food colouring

For Filling:

  • 300g mung beans
  • 4 pandan leaves (knotted)
  • 135g castor sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp shallot oil
  • 3 tbsp water

Recipe Instructions:

  1. Prepare the filling by first soaking the mung beans (available on S-Mart by Shopee Official Store) in water for one hour. Then drain and rinse the soaked mung beans twice.
  2. To soften the mung beans and sweet potato, place them on a steaming rack along with the pandan leaves and steam them in a wok for 15 minutes
  3. Transfer the softened mung beans to a large bowl and add water, sugar and salt. Then blend the mixture with an Odette Handheld Immersion Blender (available on Odette Official Store).
  4. Pour the blended mixture and shallot oil into a pan and cook the mung bean paste over low heat until it dries slightly. Then transfer the paste into a bowl and leave it to cool — you’ve got your tau sar!
  5. Start making the dough for the ang ku kueh skin by mashing the softened sweet potato with a spoon or masher. Then add the oil, coconut milk, salt and castor sugar. Blend until you’ve got a smooth and thick mixture.
  6. Once you’ve achieved the right texture for the mixture add in the flour and start kneading. Keep doing so until the dough isn’t sticky. Tip: If the dough is too wet or dry, add a little dough or water to adjust its consistency.
  7. Drizzle red food colouring onto your dough and fold it until you’ve got a bright pink piece of dough. Then transfer it to a bowl and cover with cling film. Let the dough rest.
  8. After your filling paste and dough has been allowed to rest for ten minutes, roll them both into long strips and divide them into equal portions
  9. It’s now time to assemble! First, make sure each portion of filling and dough is about the same size. Then flatten the dough portions and place a portion of filling in the centre of the dough portion.
  10. Gently wrap it around the filling and roll it into a ball. Do the same for all other dough and filling portions.
  11. Coat each ball with a thin coat of glutinous rice flour. Then firmly press each ball into an ang ku kueh mould (available on rainbowpalace). Place the uncooked ang ku kueh onto a piece of oiled banana leaf and repeat this for the other balls.
  12. Set your steamer to a medium-low heat setting and steam the ang ku kuehs for three minutes
  13. Brush each piece of ang ku kueh with oil once they’ve been steamed. Serve your delicious glossy kuehs.

Whip up delicious nonya kuehs with these recipes this National Day!

Besides having a go at making traditional nonya kueh with these recipes, celebrate Singapore’s birthday by putting one some of these red and white outfits while singing along to iconic National Day songs. Prefer heading out for a fun family day trip this National Day? Explore some lesser-known historical places in Singapore — including foodie havens with years of history behind them!


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