How to make purple Sweet Potato Ondeh Ondeh, or glutinous rice ball mochis 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.
I made the more traditional, 5-ingredient version here: Pandan Ondeh Ondeh here.
I also have a Blue Pea Ondeh Ondeh recipe right here: Blue Pea Ondeh Ondeh.
What is Ondeh Ondeh?
Ondeh Ondehs are a familiar dessert, also known as kueh, in Singapore. Think of these as Southeast Asian mochi! Ondeh Ondeh are soft, chewy glutinous rice balls with a palm sugar syrup filling. It is boiled to cook, and rolled in soft, freshly grated coconut. When you bite into these, your mouth explode with delicious syrup!
These are known as Ondeh Ondeh in Singapore and Malaysia. Another common name for it in Malaysia is Buah Melaka. 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.
To make great Ondeh Ondeh, you just need four key ingredients: glutinous rice flour and water to create the base dough, gula melaka or palm sugar for the filling, and freshly grated coconut for the coating.
Sweet Potato Ondeh Ondeh vs regular Ondeh Ondeh
There is a fifth important element: additional flavouring. Traditionally, ondeh ondeh is flavoured with pandan – this is also the common ondeh ondeh you’ll find in shops. Another version is with sweet potatoes, also traditionally but not as common to purchase.
The sweet potato ondeh ondeh is my definite favourite! I stubbornly insist on using purple sweet potatoes, to get the gorgeous purple colour, but you can use any sweet potato really. The ondeh ondehs will take on the colour of your sweet potatoes.
The sweet potato ondeh ondeh has more flavour than the regular Ondeh Ondeh, which is also known as Pandan Ondeh Ondeh. It’s mildly sweet as well, so you’re not just biting into bland dough. It is also softer, although less chewy.
The original version however is easier and quicker to prepare with lesser ingredients and steps.
They’re both delicious, so it depends on your preference AND what you have in your pantry!
Gula Melaka (Palm Sugar)
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 has a mellow sweetness that tastes like caramel but with so much depth.
Do not use regular white sugar, it is absolutely not the same. Brown sugar is a better alternative in terms of taste, although personally I’ve never tried it so I cannot comment on the melt times. Palm sugar is becoming a common ingredient – even in western supermarkets! – so I would highly recommend that you source for it.
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 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 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
The tricky part to making Ondeh Ondehs would to roll it into a ball with the gula melaka filling, but it’s easy to get the hang of!
- First, pinch off a piece of 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 by pinching 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.
Freshly Grated Coconut Coating
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. Besides adding flavour, they also help the sticky Ondeh Ondeh balls to not stick to each other after it’s cooked!
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.
How to Keep ONDEH ONDEH?
Ondeh Ondehs are best served immediately, when it’s nice and soft and warm! Also, maximum melted syrupy goodness. You can keep it at room temperature for the day.
To keep for a couple of days, 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!
I would not recommend any other methods of reheating. If you are truly in a pinch, 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 love this Asian dessert, you will love these too:
- Rainbow Kueh Lapis | Singapore Nine-Layer Chewy Steamed Cakes
- Lavender Blue Pea Kueh Lapis
- Rice Cooker Muah Chee | Easy peanut mochi
- Martabak Manis | Thick, sweet Indonesian pancakes
Sweet Potato Ondeh OndehCourse: Recipes
This recipe makes about 16 Ondeh Ondeh balls.
150g Sweet Potato
100g Glutinous Rice Flour, with extra
100ml Water, with extra
Water, for boiling ondeh ondeh
Pandan leaves (optional)
150g Gula Melaka or Coconut Palm Sugar, chopped
- Grated Coconut
100g grated coconut
1/4 tsp Salt
Pandan Leaves (optional)
- Steaming the Grated Coconut
- Option to lay pandan leaves on a steam-proof plate. Spread the grated coconut on the plate on top of the pandan leaves. Sprinkle on salt evenly.
- Steam for just 5 minutes, and remove from steamer to let cool completely.
- Making the Dough
- Steam the sweet potatoes for 20-30 minutes until fork soft tender. Let the sweet potatoes cool before peeling. Mash in a bowl with a potato masher or fork.
- Add glutinous rice flour to the sweet potato and begin to knead. A crumbly dough should start to form.
- Gradually add water and knead to form a dough that easily shapes into a ball. Prepare additional glutinous rice flour and water 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. The dough is ready once it does not stick to the bowl or your hands.
- 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 the sugar or 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
- Add a knotted bundle of Pandan Leaves and add to a pot of water. Make sure there is enough water to completely submerge the ondeh ondehs. Let the pot of water come to a gentle boil over medium heat.
- Lower in the ondeh ondeh balls and it should sink to the bottom. Allow to cook until the balls float.
- Once the balls float, let it cook for a couple more minutes, before fishing out of the pot.
- Immediately roll the balls in the grated coconut. Serve!