Back when I was growing up, I was never too keen on kuih because I found most of them overly sweet. After living without them for more than a decade, I find myself craving some traditional kuih I grew up with (they are very much part of my childhood after all). As I learn how to make some of them myself, I discover that the beauty of homemade kuih is that I can personally determine the level of sweetness, thus eliminating the reason why I didn’t like them in the first place. :D
Pulut Inti is a kuih with a glutinous rice base, that is topped with freshly-grated coconut cooked with Gula Melaka (palm sugar), and wrapped in banana leaves. With no access to freshly-grated coconut, I use dried unsweetened shredded coconut instead and although I can find Gula Melaka in my local Asian store, I choose to use light brown sugar as a substitute simply because it is a more common ingredient in my pantry. Finally, to avoid the hassle of using banana leaves, I use wax paper to wrap the Pulut Inti into individual packages. Now to the fun and delicious part…
Makes about 12 portions
2¼ cups glutinous (sweet) rice
¼ teaspoon salt
1 (13.5 fluid ounces) can coconut milk
1½ cups dried unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup packed light brown sugar*
1 cup water
*You can substitute 5½ to 7 ounces of palm sugar, if desired; adjust level according to your preference of sweetness.
Rinse rice with cold water until water is clear, draining the water each time. Soak the rice overnight. The next day, drain rice, add salt, and stir to mix evenly. Transfer rice and half of the coconut milk to a 9-inch oiled (I use vegetable oil) cake pan. Steam rice for 20 minutes. Remove cake pan from the steamer, add the remaining coconut milk, this time stirring the mixture to mix evenly. Steam for another 20 minutes. Remove cake pan from steamer and cool slightly.
Meanwhile (during steaming time), make the coconut topping. Combine coconut, sugar, water, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower heat to medium-low and cook until mixture is sticky and all the water has essentially evaporated. Remove to a dish.
If serving immediately, cut glutinous rice base into 12 wedges (like you would a cake) and serve with the topping on top or on the side. If storing, scoop each portion of rice (just eyeball the amount) onto an 8″ x 8″ piece of wax paper, top the rice with the coconut mixture, and fold into neat packages, pressing/molding the package to shape it as you fold. Keep in the fridge. To serve, unwrap each portion onto a plate and reheat in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Please note that if you heat the Pulut Inti without unwrapping it first, the warm rice will STICK to the wax paper.