Some bloggers have a stack of drafts prepared, or at least a few finished posts up their sleeve. You don’t need me to tell you that I’m not one of those organised people right?
Here’s how I roll - after a busy weekend, start thinking about what to make for Malaysian Monday, on Sunday night. Look in pantry and decide to make kuih wajid/ kuih wajik (sticky glutinous rice cake) because it doesn’t require an extra trip to the shops. Plus, I love this delicacy and haven’t eaten any for a very long time.
My memory is pretty fuzzy but I think the first time I ate this kuih, it might have been at a tea-party hosted by the local Kaum Ibu. Kaum Ibu loosely translates to Mother’s Group or Mother’s Community. But it’s really a society for women, a little bit like the Country Women’s Association here in Australia. I’m not sure if Kaum Ibu is found everywhere, or whether it is particular to the defence forces. The association acts as a support group for the women (and family) of defence force personnel who move around a lot. Yes, there’s cooking and craft involved, but there’s a lot more than that. The association rallies round in times of need and organises aid for the less fortunate. Thanks to my dad’s work, I had the privilege of tagging along to various well-catered Kaum Ibu meetings, and stuffing myself silly (but of course).
So began my life-long love for this sticky, sweet kuih. However, it’s one of the lesser known kuih and not as readily available unless one knows where to go to hunt it down. Otherwise, you have to wait patiently as it usually makes an appearance at the pop-up kuih stalls during the fasting month of Ramadan.
I found two recipes for Wajik, one in Mum’s notes and one on an old recipe card. Of course, to make things interesting, both the recipes were quite different, with varying weights for sugar and rice and coconut milk. What they shared in common though, was measurements for the coconut milk based on number of coconuts, as in : “squeeze milk from X number of coconuts and set aside the first milk”. Nowhere do the recipes mention how many cups to expect from each coconut. This is the part about Malaysian cooking that I find extremely frustrating - the guesswork involved.
You can add durian to your wajik if so inclined. Mmmmm
So I calculate and try to work out ratios and cook the wajik in snatched moments over the course of a long and busy day. The end result is a little bit stickier than it should be (I think I need to increase the amount of glutinous rice), but the flavour is exactly as I remembered. Excitedly, I gave the MCs some for afternoon tea. MC Senior loves it and chomps through a largeish serving. MC Junior meanwhile said, “Pah, it’s horrible. I think Dad will hate it too!”. (She’s probably right).
Never mind, more for me then, and I cannot stop eating it! Help.
When I get down from the sugar high, I promise to try very hard to be organised for the Muhibbah Malaysian Monday round-up #9 next week and get it to you at a reasonable time. So if you’d like to take part, please send your entries in to me at its(dot)sharon(at)gmail(dot)com. (My MMM partner Suresh at 3 Hungry Tummies and I, take turns hosting each round-up.)
Have a great start to the week.
The texture of the kuih I made is a little too “wet” but I think adjusting the glutinous rice ratio will help. If you’d like to experiment, here’s how I made my wajik.
1 cup (about 200g) (use more) glutinous rice - soaked overnight. I used 2 1/2 cups water to soak, but this water gets drained anyway so the measurement doesn’t matter too much.
11/2 (220g) cup gula melaka (dark palm sugar) chopped into bits
just under 1 cup caster sugar (170g)
4 cups water
1 cup coconut milk (I used canned coconut milk)
pandan leaves if available (I used 8 frozen ones, which seem to work fine. I make sure I use lots though, because the fragrance isn’t as strong as fresh leaves)
Prepare a heat-proof pan for pouring the finished mixture in. I lightly oiled a lamington pan and lined the base with baking paper,
First drain the glutinous rice, add a pinch of salt and steam until it is cooked. It took about 20 - 30 minutes for me.
Next, cook the gula melaka, caster sugar, 4 cups water and knotted pandan leaves in a large saucepan, stirring until all the sugar melts. Gently simmer for 5 minutes, take it off the heat and strain. Gula melaka contains a lot of impurities, so this straining part is crucial. I had to go out, so I rinsed the pandan leaves off, stuck them in the bowl of hot syrup and left it there to infuse for a few hours.
Strain the syrup into a large pan or wok (preferable). Bring to a boil, then carefully put the cooked glutinous rice into the syrupy mixture. Stir constantly, and keep simmering until the mixture is very thick and sticky and the grains of rice are visible, almost like a very, very dry risotto. This part took about 20-30 minutes for me (I wasn’t really timing it properly, I just glanced at the clock every now and then). Add the coconut milk and cook, still stirring until the mixture is dry and starts clumping together and leaves the side of the pan. Pour the mixture into prepared pan, press down with the back of a spoon and leave to cool. Cut into squares when cool.
If your wajik is a bit to sticky (like mine), don’t despair, just eat it with a spoon :)