Wednesday, 12 October 2011

one at a time...

It all started during our makan trip (food trip) to Malacca (hop over here for our trip review)...

at one of the rest stops along the highways, my elder child spotted a sign in front of a food stall, written on it were the words "Ondeh Ondeh". While we queue up to get our drinks, he picked up his courage (after much hesitation...he is a very very shy boy, almost an introvert...) and went over to the stall to get the ondeh of his favourite local snacks.

We burst out laughing when he came back with not the familiar green sweet potato balls, but something like these! We were quite sure he must have ordered the wrong thing...those deep fried balls looked similar to the Chinese deep fried sesame balls with peanut filling. He told us despite the language barrier, the stall owner told him those were 'Ondeh Ondeh'. He felt rather sheepish and the soggy ondeh ondeh made him felt even more embarrassed ;)

I assured him we would be able to get the 'real' ondeh ondeh when we get to Malacca. Indeed, he finally got his ondeh ondeh fix when we had lunch at this nyonya restaurant, Nancy's Kitchen. Those sweet, fragrant morsels more than made up for the little funny incident earlier that day.

While shopping for local delicacies at San Shu Gong (三叔公) a famous local delicacy shop in Jonker Street, I couldn't help but bought a pack of gula melaka...palm sugar or Malacca sugar. I told my son, I will try make him the 'real' ondeh ondeh, once I learn how to make them, he can have them anytime.

Well, that promise was made sometime in March...and I didn't fulfill it six months later...and I only pushed myself to make them as the gula melaka was near its 'best before' date.

Even though I didn't get down to make these sweet potato ondeh ondeh the moment we came back from our Malacca trip, I was diligent enough to bookmark recipes and instructions from books and blogs. Through my little research on this everyday local snacks, much to my surprise, I learned that ondeh ondeh, or onde onde actually means small round is a general term to refer snacks that are shaped into rounds. I have grown up equating ondeh ondeh(I was taught to pronounce it as oh-nek oh-nek!) to these green, coconut coated round balls. Actually these ondeh ondeh made with sweet potato are known as ondeh ondeh keledek (Malay word for sweet potatoes). Pardon my ignorance, it was a great discovery, at least for me!

I have little, in fact, no experience in making traditional kuihs, although growing up, I was never deprived of homemade nyonya kuihs. My mother never seems to get tired or be intimated with making traditional it Chinese or nyonya ones.  I have no idea what went into the making of sweet potato ondeh ondeh...I have assumed the main ingredients would be just mashed sweet potato wrapped with gula melaka? After studying the various recipes I have stumbled across, I realised that some were made without any sweet potatoes! What a surprise! But all of them would require the use of glutinous rice flour, some with the addition of tapoica flour.

I settled on this recipe which I took from this book '31 Snacks For Asian Cuisine Lovers' by Patsie Cheong. The recipe looks simple enough...actually too simple and brief for a beginner...but with the little tips and information from other recipes, I was confident enough to give it a go.

All went well, except when I tried to mix the ingredients into a dough...the amount of water used (only 28ml) is just way too little. I have to keep adding water before I could form the dough. In the end, I used up almost 100ml of liquid. I am sure there is a typo somewhere. There was no instructions on how to cook the sweet potatoes, so I chose to boil them with water. There were no instructions on how much dough to use or how much filling should go into one dough. I experienced with a few and managed to get the size which I was comfortable with...not so much on the right bite-size, but the portion which was just right for me to wrap in the filling. It was certainly not an easy task to wrap the breaks quite easily, and I was not skillful enough to wrap a loose filling. Fortunately, I managed to get the hang of it after a few over sized, giant ondeh ondeh ;)

After the daunting task of wrapping the doughs, I was all ready to boil them...but to my horrors, I noticed several doughs started to 'leak'...streaks of gula melaka was oozing out from 'hairline' cracks :( I left those leaking ones to the last, as I was quite sure they were gonna burst upon boiling. Surprisingly, even with some tiny cracks, the dough didnt burst when they were boiling in the water. The cooked doughs look as good as those without any 'leakage'. In fact, a couple of the 'good' ones started to leak while I was coating them with the grated coconut. What an experience!

I was quite proud of myself when I served these sweet potato glutinous rice balls. They were really yummy! Soft, a little chewy...and please pardon my limited vocabulary, it is a great hindrance when it comes to describing the way the sweet palm sugar ooze out while you bite into it ;) The addition of tapoica flour gives them a nice QQ (弹牙) texture.

Since I do not have a blender or food processor, I used ready made pandan paste instead of homemade blended juice from pandan leaves. I was happy that the amount of pandan paste I added was just right, at least the colour was a nice green. My elder one was all thumbs up, and the way he gobbled down the ondeh ondeh was quite an alarming sight! The younger fellow was beaming away since he was the one helping me divide the dough into small portions. The only complain he has, is to request me to made them smaller so that he can stuff it inside his mouth at one go ;)

I am glad I have finally fulfilled my promise...but there is another one to go...and another, and another...the list just goes on and on, but I will take it slowly, one at a time...

I am pleased to submit this post to this month's AB event, Aspiring Bakers #12: Traditional Kueh (October 2011) hosted by SSB of Small Small Baker. Thanks for hosting SSB!

Sweet Potato Ondeh Ondeh

(makes about 36)

for dough:
300g sweet potatoes, mashed
100g glutinous rice flour
80g tapioca flour
50g sugar
about 100ml water (adjust accordingly)
1/4 teaspoon pandan paste (or green food colouring)

for filling:
150g gula melaka, grated
50g sugar

grated coconut (I used amount equivalent to half a coconut)
pinch of salt

  1. Mix freshly grated coconut (get from local wet markets) with pinch of salt. Steam over high heat for 5 mins. Leave to cool, set aside.
  2. Grate gula melaka and mix with sugar, set aside.
  3. Peel, cut sweet potatoes into cubes, boil with water until soft. While still hot, mash the sweet potatoes until very fine.
  4. Dissolve pandan paste with 100ml of water.
  5. Place mashed sweet potatoes in a mixing bowl. Add glutinous rice flour, tapioca flour and sugar. Stir with hand to mix it. Add in the pandan paste liquid a little at a time until the mixture becomes a soft dough. Add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water if necessary. Knead the dough for a few minutes until the green colouring is evenly dissolve into the dough to yield a nice smooth dough.
  6. Divide the dough into small rounds (I used about 20g per dough). For each dough, place on your palm and flatten it to about the size of your palm. Wrap the dough with a teaspoon (I used my measuring spoon) of the gula melaka/sugar mixture. Pinch to seal. Repeat with the rest.
  7. Bring a pot of water to a full boil. Cook in batches - place ondeh ondeh into the boiling water, give a gentle stir to make sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pan. Leave to boil till they float on water, let them boil for another 2 mins. Remove and coat with grated coconut. These are best served freshly made. (Note: the dough can be wrapped, step 6, cover and leave to chill in the fridge, boil them only when ready to serve. However, I have only tried keeping uncooked dough in the fridge for not more than half a day.)
Recipe source: adapted from 31 Snacks For Asian Cuisine Lovers by Patsie Cheong


Unknown said...

I'm fans of ondeh-ondeh. Yours look perfectly done! Like the recipe with big portion of sweet potatoes in dough. Bookmarked. Thanks for sharing!

happybowl said...

i envy the little ones who had the pleasure of tasting it, very tasty looking..

Edith said...

I am a fan of ondeh ondeh too but I wish they can serve this without the coconut. hahaha..

Joceline said...

我喜爱的ondeh ondeh...... 加入gula melaka特别香。

The Experimental Cook said...

Lovely story. Seeing our kids eat our creation is our biggest joy. And, now I know what I made was called " Ondeh Ondeh Keledek " :-D

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

my son must be very happy to eat homemade ondeh-ondeh, you are a good mom !

Rai said...

Wow... that would take me some serious courage to try.

Unknown said...

In Indonesia, the real onde onde is that fried thingy the one your son got. This green thing called kelepon. So probably the owner of the stall is Indonesian :D

Blessed Homemaker said...

One of my family's favourite! I've not made these for a long time and when we feel like eating it, I always end up buying from the stores :-(

Anonymous said...

hi HHB, just to share with u my 2cents worth of thots since u r always so generous.
If the dough breaks easily n it is daunting to wrap the filling, my guess is the recipe is not accurate n the following is how i will do it:
1. peel n cut sweet potato into thin slices n steam till v soft. Drain the sweet potato n use the liquid as part of the amt of water needed in recipe.The reason i dont boil is nutrients lost n it will absorb more water during boiling.
2. i just use gula melaka without the additional white sugar. Dont grate, cut into cubes n chill. When ready for wrapping then u take out from fridge. i think this method is much easier to wrap.
May :)

Unknown said...

I love onde onde (especially when I was pregnant, can eat one box per day - from Bengawan solo) ^_^

Min said...

Looks tempting! I want to do this also, thanks for sharing the recipe.

Happy Homebaker said...

Vivian, hope you will have fun making these :)

Thanks happybowl!

Edith, you will have to make your own if you don't like them coated with coconut ;)

Joceline, 这个gula melaka真的很香!

The Experiemental Cook, I am clever enough to make things that the kids like ;)

Sonia, nah, I am not very 伟大 as compared to many other mums!

Rai, you should give it a try, it is not as difficult.

Happy Homebaker said...

Ridha, thanks for your info :)

Blessed Homebaker, yes the quickest way is to buy from stores, but I think my kids will no longer accept store bought ones, since they can 'customise' their own at home, lol!

Hi May, thanks for sharing your experience! Love all your comments, I have learned a lot from you. I tried chopping the palm sugar, but I couldn't chop it so I ended up grating it with my knife ;)

neyeeloh, did Bengawan solo gave you a VIP card ;p

Min, I think you will enjoy making these! Do check up other recipes and see which one suits you best :)

jehanne@thecookingdoctor said...

HIya, came across your site after reading up reviews on in-built ovens, we are thinking of moving to singapore from London and I was hoping that my baking spree doesn't stop! would love to hear from you abt which oven did u choose at the end,and if u care to be my virtual baking friend, as it will ease the moving process by knowing a fellow blogger too! I dont even know where to get my baking stuff anymore:-(

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi jehanne, thanks for dropping by :)

I bought the Bosch oven, the basic model. So far so good, nothing in comparison to the higher range ones, but it is already a major upgrade for me, from a 20L tabletop oven to a 58L built in.

Over here the bigger baking store is Phoon Huat (, it has got a number of branches. The other one is Sun Lik ( You can also refer to this post by fellow blogger, Not the Kitchen Sink (

Do let me know if you need other info besides baking :)

Yummy Bakes said...

Thank you for the post on Malacca. A good reference guide for my coming trip to Malacca on Monday.

Jehanne said...

Thank u HHB for such a prompt reply and a detailed one too! I looked up those shops on the net, and I'm well impressed with the products esp bakewares available in Singapore! All excited about prospect of moving, daunting it may be.
Do u have an email that I can email you to? i find it much easier than posting publicly here:-) thank u for taking time for those notes, I really appreciate it:-)

sherlyn said...

I made this long long time ago (that means cannot remember when) and I cant find it in my blog (blame it on the badly tag posts - still my fault haha) But I used orange sweet potato then. I think if I have the time, I will want to make it again using your recipe but use orange sweet potato. I love anythg with coconut. :) Yours look so nice and tempting. Yummy. Really wish I can stay next to you, cos my kids do not eat these ....

Happy Homebaker said...

Sherlyn, I wish you are my neighbour too! We can share our bakes and share our ingredients ;) I used sweet potatoes that has purple skin but the inside is yellow. Orange sweet potato will be nice, I like to use it for sweet potato soup.

Happy Homebaker said...

Jehanne, my email address is

Anna said...

Oh god, I want to make this so bad! My whole family loves ondeh ondeh! :) Thanks for sharing your recipe!

But erm... what happens if I don't use pandan paste? You mentioned that it's okay to just use green food colouring, but how should I go about that?

Also, where can I buy pandan paste and gula melaka?

Happy Homebaker said...

Anna, just add 1 or 2 drops of green food colouring will do. I got the pandan paste (Koepoe Koepoe brand) from Sheng Shiong supermarket, just google and you will get images of this pandan paste.
as for the gula melaka, I got it in Malacca. but you should be able to find it at supermarkets or the dried goods stalls in wet market.

Anonymous said...

I've make the above using your recipe. It has the bouncy texture, but I'm not satisfied with the sugar as it doesn't melt like the one above? Any idea where I've gone wrong?

Onde Fans

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Onde Fans, I am not sure what happened, did you use gula melaka? It should melt easily, especially in our humid weather or when there is moisture. I left the grated gula melaka on a slightly damp plate, and it started melting away. or could it be that you chopped the gula melaka into big chunks instead of grating it?