South-East Asian Desserts You May Never Heard Of Before
A rich culture with unique, delicious cuisine makes South-East and East Asian desserts intriguing and refreshing. The mixture of the cultures in this part of Asia gives a variety of common desserts available all over. We have made a 2 part compilation of Desserts You Have Never Heard of Before, from South-East and East Asia.
If you are a traveller with a sweet tooth or a lover of everything sweet, these desserts will definitely please your soul. Just an advice, don’t let the uniqueness of these desserts hold you back because despite the different ingredients and preparation methods they are worth trying out.
1. Ube Halaya
Ube Halaya, Purple Yam dessert or purple jam is a traditional Filipino dessert. This creamy dessert made from mashed purple yam (or ‘Ube’), milk and butter is consumed just like that or used in other desserts like halo-halo, ice creams, pastry fillings or applied on bread like jam. The rich buttery sweetness and eye-popping purple color sure make it an attractive dessert.
2. Puto and Kutsinta
Puto is a steam cake made of rice and Kutsinta is made up of rice, brown sugar and annatto powder. They are one of the favorite desserts of locals; a must try dessert. They can be found on street carts easily.
Taisan is a soft, sweet, fluffy Filipino chiffon cake. This classic chiffon cake is lighter and fluffier than a sponge cake. It’s a favorite among the locals of all age group and enjoyed with as a snack usually with a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate. Taisan is served by sprinkling some sugar or cheese on top of it.
1. Kuih Lapis
Kuih Lapis means layered cake in literal Malay translation. It might seem similar to Kek Lapis, the Sarawak Layer cake but the cooking style, as well as the ingredients, are very different. This steamed cake is usually nine layered and traditionally made from rice flour, coconut milk and sugar.
2. Pandan Cake
Pandan cake is spongy, soft green colored chiffon cake. You must have tried this cake in other South East Asian countries but it’s a traditional Malayan (or Singaporean) dessert. The just enough sweet and moist cake with pandan (screwpine) leaf flavor is a must try.
3. Ondeh Ondeh
Ondeh-Ondeh is glutinous rice ball filled with pandan (screwpine) juice and sugar and rolled in freshly grated coconut. The traditional dish is easily available on the streets of Malaysia and is an all-time favorite of Malaysians. The sticky balls with a burst of sweet juices in the mouth are worth trying.
1. Es Pisang Ijo
Es Pisang Ijo, Green Banana dessert is one of a kind. Baked banana is wrapped in green flour and served with crushed ice or porridge, coconut milk, rose syrup or ambon syrup.
2. Pisang Bakar Saus Kinca
Pisand Bakar Saus Kinca means Grilled Plantain with Palm Sugar Sauce. The difference between plantain and banana is that plantain cannot be consumed raw you need to cook them, in any preferential way, before. This traditional plantains dessert is authentically grilled on coal grill and served with kinca sauce, palm sugar sauce or coconut milk sauce. It is famous as Plantain EPE in Makassar City.
3. Kue talam labu kuning
Kue talam labu kuning, steamed pumpkin cake with coconut milk is traditional Indonesian dessert. The top layer is of coconut milk and rice flour; and the bottom layer is of steamed pumpkin, rice flour, topic flour, eggs and coconut milk. Kue, cake is an important part of Indonesian cuisine, especially during fasting months where Kues are used to break their fast.
1. Tau Huay
Tau Huay, soya bean pudding is Singapore’s classic dessert. Easily available and inexpensive, this wobbly dessert is loved among locals. The silky soft texture is similar to pannacotta. Sugar syrup or any form of sweet syrup is had with it. You will even find savory versions of Tau Huay in China and Taiwan served with nuts topping or soy sauce.
2. Kueh Tarts
Kueh Tarts or Pineapple Tarts are distributed during Chinese New Year’s. The just enough sweet and buttery tarts are popular in Malaysia as well. They are made open-faced like in the above picture or closed ball like or upside down dome-like.
3. Kuih Bahulu
Kuih Bahulu is Asian madeleine with little crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. A dessert enjoyed during Lunar New Year celebration, different versions of Kuih Bahulu are enjoyed in Malaysia, Brunei as well. They are traditionally made in iron cast molds and enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee.
1. Nom Lort
Nom Lort is Cambodian pandan flavored jelly in coconut sauce. It is a classic dessert made from pandan leaves, palm sugar and coconut milk. Creamy and sweet, it's a local favorite.
2. Nom Chek Chien
Nom Chek Chien is fried banana fritters. From roadside vendors to trendy restaurants you will find this fried goodness. The wrapped crispy spring roll with a cooked banana on the inside and sprinkled powdered sugar on the top is delicious. In trendy Cambodian restaurants, they are served with vanilla ice cream or chocolate syrup.
3. Borbo Skor La-pov
Borbo skor la-pov is a delicious pumpkin sweet-potato tapioca(sago) parfait. Coconut milk and cane sugar bring together all the flavors, making this dessert tasty and comforting.
1. Chi fa bun
Chi fa buns are glutinous rice balls filled with peanut and sugar. Mochi is a famous Chinese dessert in Taiwan and Chi fa buns despite being Mochi with a filling are worth mentioning here. They are pretty popular in South East Asia. A delicious soft dessert is enjoyed with a cup of tea during snack times or even breakfast.
2. Montad chuame
Montad Chaume commonly known as Thai Candied Cassava is proof of how different yet delicious the eastern desserts are from the western world. Despite being a Thai dessert, cassava is largely grown in Singapore and Malaysia and enjoyed as quick dessert there. Cassava roots are cooked in sugary syrup, giving them a shiny translucent candy-like look, hence the name Candied Cassava. The slightly salty coconut milk drizzling on the top adds to the richness of this tapioca dessert.
3. Pa thong ko
Pa thong ko are Thai doughnuts, an adaption of Chinese crullers. They may be known as Thai doughnuts but Pa thong ko are not similar to doughnuts. The outside of these doughnuts is crispy and the inside is soft and flaky. They are a popular breakfast choice in Thailand, sold by street vendors everywhere. As the doughnuts itself are not overly sweet they are enjoyed with ‘ kaya’ or ‘srikaya’, coconut egg jam, or tea, coffee or ‘congee’.
1. Thach rau cau
Thach rau cau is a 3 layered jelly dessert. It is made using coffee, coconut and pandan flavored agar (a form of gelatine). The taste is sweet and sticky, and the flavors are delicious together.
2. Banh cam
Banh cam is Vietnamese sesame ball. These beautifully golden balls are made by stuffing sweet red bean paste inside glutinous rice balls, which are then fried and covered in sesame seeds. This crispy and slightly chewy dessert can be found in varying flavors, depending on the region.
3. Xoi gac
Xoi gac is a traditional red sticky rice dessert. The red color is considered to bring good fortune in Asia, hence xoi gac is made during special occasions. Gac, baby jackfruit is used in this dessert giving it a natural rich red color. This dessert is just enough sweet and tastes a bit like vanilla due to gac.
1. Chocolate Samosa
Inspired from Indian samosa’s this chocolate samosa with vanilla ice-cream at Rangoon Tea House in Yangon is a must eat. Burmese cuisine is quite inspired by its neighboring countries. You can find the savory versions of samosas with salads and soups as well.
2. Shwe Yin Aye
Shwe Yin Aye is a traditional Burmese dessert. It is made from coconut milk, seaweed jelly, glutinous rice, sago, cendol and a slice of bread. Shwe Yin Aye is a local favorite and can be found at street vendors all over. This dessert is enjoyed at any time during the day.
3. Burma baklava tarifi
Burma baklava tarifi is a puff pastry filled with hazelnuts or walnuts and topped with sweet sherbet. The flaky pastry with the nut filling and sugary sherbet is delicious.
Check out the second part of this series as well East Asian Desserts You May Never Heard Of Before
Got you drooling, right? Let us know what which of these delicious southeast Asian desserts have you tried before or dying to try in the comments below.