Kueh Salat

Unlike most of the stuff I’ve done for this blog, this is my first STEAMED dessert. To make this traditional Peranakan sweet treat, you have to first steam the glutinous rice, cook the kaya (pandan coconut custard), and then steam the two layers together to bind them.

Kueh salat has always intrigued me. When I was a kid, I had no idea what gave the kueh its intense indigo colour. Naturally, I was wary. It looked artificial, chemical … RADIOACTIVE. Then I found out, years later, that the blue colouring is derived from the butterfly pea flower, also suggestively named “clitoria ternatea”. It is called “bunga telang” in Malay. The dye from the flower is flavourless so for the sake of convenience, many kueh makers these days simply just use blue food colouring.

But a true (okay, only my late great-grandmother was a bibik) Peranakan will insist on doing things the “difficult” way. Everything has to be made from scratch! So this recipe calls for a handful of this beautiful flower. I bought mine dried from a shop in Malacca; I’m sure a quick search on Google will be able to tell you where you can get this in Singapore.

Over the weekend, I made this TWICE. My first attempt, the rice layer turned completely blue. According to my mum, it was because I used way too much flowers. So, in my second attempt, I steamed the rice layer first and then in the final 10 minutes, I drizzled the dye at random spots.

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First attempt

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Second attempt

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not that difficult and time-consuming. Once you figure what to do first, it’s a cinch!


Rice layer 
250g glutinous rice – soak for at least 2 hours, then drain
4 pandan leaves
125ml coconut milk
A pinch of salt
125ml water
Blue colouring from soaking roughly a tablespoon of dried butterfly pea flowers in 10 tablespoons of hot water

Kaya layer 
8 pandan leaves – chopped
200ml coconut milk
90ml water
2 tablespoons flour
115g white sugar
5 eggs, beaten


1. Blend pandan leaves and coconut milk. Then squeeze the resulting mash over a sieve to get pandan-flavoured coconut milk.

2. In a saucepan, add water, flour, salt, and sugar to the pandan-coconut milk mixture. Over low heat, whisk until sugar is dissolved and there are no lumpy flour bits. Remove from heat.

3. In an 8-inch round cake pan (prepped with a baking sheet at the bottom and greased lightly on the sides), arrange the glutinous rice evenly and place the pandan leaves on top. Steam for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the pandan leaves. Drizzle coconut milk over the rice. Steam for 10 minutes.

4. While rice is steaming, gently heat the pandan-coconut milk mixture to a gentle simmer. Then, pour half into the eggs. Then pour the eggs back into the other half of the pandan-coconut milk mixture. Stir over low heat, scraping the sides and bottom to make sure the kaya doesn’t turn lumpy.

5. Check the rice. Fluff it up with a fork. If it appears dry, drizzle water over it, tablespoon by tablespoon. Flatten it evenly and steam again for 5 minutes. After that, drizzle the blue colouring over the rice in random places. Steam again for 5 minutes on low heat.

6. Once kaya has thicken slightly, open the steamer and pour it over the rice. Steam entire thing on the lowest heat possible for 35 – 45 minutes. Kueh is done when a toothpick inserted into the kaya comes out clean.

7. Leave kueh to cool for 3 hours before unmoulding it from the cake tin. Slice it up in diamond-shape slices or in rectangular bars.

8. Store leftover in the fridge. Kueh can keep for 3 – 4 days. Before eating, gently steam a piece of kueh for 4 minutes or wait for the kueh to warm up a bit in room temperature.

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

A better birthday cake, maybe?

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