I just realized I’ve never featured a dessert recipe in this website, so what better way than to start with one of my favourites: pengat pisang!
What’s pengat, you ask? It’s a popular Malaysian dessert prepared by simmering together sugar, water, santan (coconut milk) and one key starchy ingredient (usually). We usually enjoy it for tea-time but you can always eat it as dessert after a savoury meal either. There are no hard and fast rules!
I developed a fondness for it when I was an undergraduate in Universiti Sains Malaysia. There was a nearby hostel canteen, Desa Cahaya, that used to rotate the variety of pengat they sold every day. Today there’d be gandum pengat, tomorrow kacang hijau pengat, the next day durian pengat … omg, sweet tooth haven!
Now I enjoy making it as well as eating it. The ingredient list is short and easily available, at least for us in tropical countries. Oh oh and I just realized it’s vegan too!
If you want a fuss-free yet delicious dessert, this is the one. No complicated kitchen tools; all you need is a pot to boil everything together. Easy as pie 🙂
Just a couple of pointers to ensure the best results for your pengat pisang:
1) Get bananas that are ripe but not those overly ripe ones. Four bananas might seem like a lot, but believe me, you want a lot of bananas for this recipe. Some people like cooking it longer so that the bananas become so mushy that they almost melt into the pengat. Some like their bananas to retain a bit of bite. Your call!
2) Adding pandan leaves infuses the pengat with a really nice floral aroma. There are two ways of doing it:
– the easy way. Just put the pandan leaves directly in the pengat and let it cook together with the other ingredients. The heat will draw out the aroma. Easy!
– the hard way, i.e. manually extracting the pandan juice from the leaves. Cut up the leaves into small pieces and blend them with a bit of water (I use a stick blender). Then scoop the pandan leaf paste into a strainer placed over a small bowl. Then, using a spoon, press on the leaf paste so that the juice collects in the bowl. I got one small shooter bottle’s worth from about 8 pandan leaves.
Which is better? The jury is out. But one thing is, the hard way will darken the colour of your pengat slightly, so there’s that.
3) You can also put in sago, which add a chewy texture but I didn’t want to deal with too many things at one time so I skipped this step. The results still turned out well!
- 4 medium-sized bananas
- 1/2 portion gula melaka, 1/2 portion brown sugar
- 2 cups water
- 1 tbsp pandan juice
- 200 ml box santan
- Pinch of salt
- Peel and cut bananas into wedges.
- Combine 1/2 portion gula melaka and 1/2 portion brown sugar with water in a pot. Adjust the sugar level to your preference. I usually start with 1 tbsp brown sugar and the approximate equivalent in gula melaka (it comes in a block, so you gotta eyeball it) and then add more slowly until it's sweet enough for my liking. Boil over low heat until gula melaka dissolves completely. This might take 15-20 minutes .
- Stir in pandan juice.
- Add banana chunks and cook until they have achieved your desired level of softness/mushiness.
- Add santan. Again, add half first, and then add the rest gradually according to your liking because some may not like it so creamy.
- Add a pinch of salt. Dish up and let it cool down slightly before eating. Enjoy!
For more traditional Malaysian recipes, check out my claypot chicken rice!