How to make Ondeh Ondeh, chewy glutinous rice balls with palm sugar filling.
Ondeh Ondeh, also known as Onde Onde, are chewy coconut-covered balls filled with deliciously melted palm sugar caramel! These poppers are such a fun dessert, and super easy to make.
Ondeh Ondehs are a familiar dessert, also known as kueh, in Singapore. Think of these as Malay-style mochi! These are known as Ondeh Ondeh in Singapore and Malaysia, but in Indonesia, they’re called Klepon. There is a Thai version as well, called Khanom Tom. The Thai version typically has a filling of shredded coconut and palm sugar.
Perfect Ondeh Ondeh: Gula Melaka
The one defining flavour in Ondeh Ondeh is good gula melaka! Gula melaka is coconut palm sugar, and is a traditional sugar in Southeast Asia. It is used widely in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. Unlike regular sugar, gula melaka is a mellow sweetness that tastes like caramel.
Do not use regular white sugar, it is absolutely not the same. Brown sugar is a better alternative. I would highly recommend sourcing for gula melaka though.
Gula Melaka comes in blocks, but there are readily-ground versions available as well and they will work. If using block gula melaka, you can either shave or crush the gula melaka.
My favourite – and easiest! – method is to simply chop the gula melaka. This is the only way I like to make my Ondeh Ondeh. Chop them into rough 1/2 cm cubes. This does a couple of things:
- It’s a lot easier to fill the ondeh ondehs when you don’t have sugar bits that can fall off everywhere and make a sticky mess.
- It does not melt completely, so what you get is a sugar syrup, and then boom, you get a nice crunchy bit of gula melaka in the middle. It’s the best surprise ever and the textural change is a nice welcome.
It is best to chop while gula melaka is fresh out of the refrigerator and still cold, as it will melt and become sticky to handle in room temperature after a while.
How to Roll Ondeh Ondehs
Forming the balls might seem intimidating, but it really isn’t! After a couple of ball-rolling, you’ll get the hang of it.
First, pinch off dough, and roll it in between your hands to form a ball.
Then placing it in the middle of my palm, I use my thumb to form a depression in the middle. Flatten the dough, but not too thin or else it will break easily and the palm sugar will leak. I would rather err on the side of thicker dough.
Scoop some palm sugar and add the the middle of the dough. Seal it back. I simply pinch the dough back together, so it forms an almost gyoza shape.
Then roll this in between your hands, and a round shape will form! Make sure the balls have no cracks; run the cracks over with wet fingers and the dough should form over the cracks.
Coating of Freshly Grated Coconut
The Ondeh Ondehs are rolled in freshly grated coconut. Freshly grated coconut is soft, and slightly damp. They are usually sold unsweetened and unsalted. I like to steam the coconut flakes first because it rehydrates and softens it even more. With most of the freshly grated coconut that you purchase in stores, it’s ready-to-eat, so this steaming step is optional.
To steam the grated coconut, lay it out on a plate, sprinkle on some salt, and steam for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool down before rolling the ondeh ondehs in it.
Freshly grated coconut can be easily found at supermarkets in Singapore, but I know it’s not as easy outside of Southeast Asia.
As an alternative, you can use dessicated coconut. Since dessicated coconut is dry, the texture will be completely different, you will still get delicious balls of ondeh-ondeh. You can also steam the dessicated coconut which will soften it more.
Alternatives to Pandan
Pandan Leaves or Screwpine Leaves are available in abundance in Southeast Asia, and very, very cheaply. Alternatively, you can use pandan essence. With pandan essence, use water in place of the pandan juice, and add 1/2 tsp of the pandan essence.
With pandan essence, you will likely not get a green ondeh ondeh. To combat this, use green food colouring – or yellow + blue food colouring.
If you have no access to pandan essence, or just do not want to purchase some, you can use vanilla essence as well… or not at all! As mentioned, the palm sugar is the defining flavour in Ondeh Ondeh.
You would notice that my Ondeh Ondehs are more of a pastel green, instead of the bright green like what you get in-stores. Very simply: I did not use any food colouring. Yes, unfortunately the pretty bright green ondeh ondehs get their colour from food colouring. Pandan Juice alone is most definitely not enough to get a strong green. You can add green food colouring (blue + yellow food colouring) to get the same effect.
Can you keep Ondeh Ondeh?
This recipe makes for just 8-9 ondeh ondeh balls, which is good for 1-2 pax, so I doubt you’ll have extra! These are best served immediately, but you can keep it at room temperature for the day.
If you do want to keep it for a couple of days, you can. Store in the fridge, and it will be good for 3 to 4 days. The ondeh ondehs will not be good straight out of the fridge – the dough will harden. To consume it, steam it to reheat for about 5 to 10 minutes. The dough will soften and good to eat! An alternative is to sprinkle on some water, and pop it in the microwave at medium in bursts of 30 seconds.
More recipes like this
If you like this Asian dessert, you might love these too:
Pandan Ondeh OndehCourse: Recipes
- Pandan Juice
3-4 Pandan Leaves
1 Cup of Water
- Coconut coating
50g Grated Coconut
Pinch of Salt
- Ondeh Ondeh
100ml Pandan Juice, plus extra (see Notes for Pandan Essence instructions)
100g Glutinous Rice Flour, plus extra
100g Gula Melaka, chopped
- Making the Pandan Juice
- Blend together pandan leaves with water.
- Strain through to get rid of fibres and pandan juice is ready!
- Preparing the Grated Coconut
- Spread the grated coconut on a steam-proof plate. Sprinkle on salt evenly.
- Steam for 2-3 minutes, and remove from steamer to let cool completely.
- Making the Dough
- Combine the flour and pandan juice. Knead until it becomes a dough that does not stick to your hands. Prepare additional glutinous rice flour and pandan juice on the side in case the dough needs a bit extra of either to form a good dough. If it is too crumbly, it needs more liquid. If the dough sticks to your hands, add a sprinkling of flour and continue to knead.
- Tear off a chunk of dough, about a tablespoon worth, or a ping pong ball size. Roll into a ball, and then with your thumb, create a crevice in the middle. Do not flatten it too thin, or it will break when you boil them. Fill with gula melaka. Seal the dough. Roll in between hands again to form a round ball again. If there are any cracks, smoothen over by dabbing wet fingers over.
- Cooking the Ondeh Ondeh
- Get a pot of water boiling gently. Lower in the balls and allow to cook. Once the balls float, let it cook for a couple more minutes, before fishing out of the pot.
- Immediately roll balls in the grated coconut, and it will not stick to each other. Serve!
- Alternatively, use 100ml of Water and 1/2 tsp of Pandan Essence