With only one more month of the fall semester left, it’s safe to say that things are quickly getting hectic. The question is: how do you cope? Do you watch rom-coms on Netflix to temporarily forget about your woes? Do you take a walk outdoors to calm your nerves? Or do you cook? Sometimes, making a little treat is crucial in keeping your spirits up and pushing through the heavy workload.
As an Indonesian-Canadian, I take pride in our cuisine, especially our sweet treats. Listed below are ten delicious Indonesian desserts to try. I will also shout out a few restaurants in the Greater Toronto area where you can buy these desserts. Enjoy!
Also, a quick warning that many of the dishes I’m about to list will have the following ingredients: palm sugar, coconut milk, and pandan leaves. That’s the Indonesian way!
10. Bubur Ketan Hitam
Translated to “black glutinous rice porridge,” this dessert consists of black glutinous rice, palm sugar, and pandan leaves and is topped with coconut milk. A vegan-friendly meal, this dish can be found in many Asian countries. Despite the long cook time, eating on a cool fall night is definitely worth the wait.
Another dessert soup, kolak can have many variations. The only constants in this dish are, you guessed it, palm sugar, coconut milk, and pandan leaf. My favourite variation, (a.k.a. the one my mom makes) has banana slices, sweet potato cubes, and jackfruit pieces. Though it’s usually served warm, I prefer to eat it cold. I recommend dipping a slice of white bread into the kolak to add to your culinary experience.
Translated to “diamond” in English, Indonesia’s version of a sticky rice cake is simple to make as you only need four ingredients: white glutinous rice, palm sugar, coconut milk, and pandan leaves. Hot tip: make sure to always serve this dish at room temperature! Trust me, it doesn’t taste the same cold. Here’s a link to the recipe to try at home!
7. Pisang goreng
Go to any Indonesian restaurant in the Greater Toronto Area, and nine times out of 10, they will have Pisang Goreng as one of their dessert options. Scarborough’s Gourmet Malaysia has a great Pisang Goreng. This is a classic Indonesian treat, translated to ‘fried banana’ in English. Made with sweet, ripe bananas and a basic batter (flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt), it’s probably the easiest to make out of all the dishes listed. And whatever you do, always eat Pisang Goreng with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I swear, your tastebuds will thank you!
This dessert is a fun one to eat. Bite into these small round green rice cakes, and your mouth will explode with the palm sugar liquid in the middle of the klepon. All you need to make this is palm sugar, pandan flavouring, glutinous rice flour, coconut milk, salt, and shredded coconut. It also takes only 20 minutes to make!
5. Nastar Nanas
The word ‘Nastar’ is a combination of Bahasa Indonesia and Dutch (the Indonesian word for pineapple is “nanas” and the Dutch word for cake is “taart”). This bite-sized pineapple treat is great to snack on during your study sessions. Having made nastar nanas before, I can attest that it takes almost three hours to make them. No worries! Located in Scarborough, OEY Trading Co. sells these delights for only $15.
4. Es teler
Think of es teler as a tastier and more refreshing fruit punch. Similar to cendol, this dessert can also be classified as a drink. It usually consists of shaved ice, jackfruit, avocado, coconut, condensed milk, and pandan-flavoured syrup. Feel free to add other ingredients, such as green rice flour jellies, lychee pieces, and longan. Here’s the recipe!
3. Kue lapis
At first glance, this dessert looks intimidating with its zebra-like stripes, but I promise you it is delicious! In case you didn’t know, lapis means “layers” in English. This steamed pudding-like dessert is very light, making it a guilt-free snack. Made with rice flour, tapioca flour, coconut milk, and food colouring (usually pandan-flavoured), if you do it right, it’s possible to peel each layer and eat it string-cheese style! Tempted? Visit the link to find out how to make kue lapis!
2. Es Cendol
Best served cold and on a hot summer day, milkshakes are no match for es cendol. This Javanese drink and dessert all in one, has green rice flour jellies, palm sugar, and coconut milk. Visit this link to find out how you can make your own es cendol! Not enough time to make es cendol? Try North York’s Satay Sate’s es cendol for only $5.95!
1. Martabak Manis
My favourite out of all the ones listed here, martabak manis, is a thick and sweet Indonesian pancake. Slathered with butter inside and out and filled with crushed peanuts, chocolate sprinkles, shredded cheese, and condensed milk, this dessert is a true guilty pleasure. Convinced? Visit this link to find the recipe. Live in the Mississauga area and don’t have enough time to make your own martabak manis? Try Samara Kitchen’s Martabak Manis for only $17!
There you have it! Keep in mind that there are so many other Indonesian desserts that I did not mention in this article. If you have the time and are curious to learn more, Google “Indonesian desserts” and thank me later. I sincerely hope you learned something about Indonesian culture from reading my list and that you decide to try something!