This putu piring recipe is part of my ultimate dumpling guide. Check it out if you haven’t seen it yet! If you need a video to go with this recipe, this video by Flavors of Asia on YouTube explains it well.
Putu piring is most closely related to Malaysia, but it is also enjoyed in Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand. It has many names as well, kue putu mangkok, kueh tutu, and kue putu ayu.
Whatever you call it, putu piring is a light dessert that pairs well with anything. If you don’t have a special mold or the pandan leaves to make it, I’ll show you some substitutes you can use.Jump to Recipe
Putu Piring Substitutions
Usually, you use a special floral mold to make putu piring. It resembles a flower and makes it look pretty. Of course, this is probably the only thing you would use the molds for, so I don’t blame you if you try to get around it. You would have to go to an Asian market to find them probably.
I used a bowl instead and stuck it in the steamer. It worked out, the cake is way bigger than it would normally be, but you can share it with your friends instead of eating it just by yourself.
The other big substitution I made was for pandan leaf. I couldn’t find it anywhere. From what I’ve read, it has a kind of a citrus and vanilla taste, very hard to replicate. So, I used lemongrass and vanilla extract in an attempt to add this flavor to the putu piring.
Putu Piring Tips
Make sure to sieve the flour twice, once after you toast it, and once after you add the water. It’s a pain I know, but it’s the best way to break up the clumps of flour. It will make a big difference in the texture as well.
Here’s the rice flour I used by the way. If you have a nearby Asian market, it’ll probably be cheaper there. Plus, it’s important to support these groceries while many people avoid them because of unreasonable fears of Covid-19 (if you’re reading this in the future, hopefully that’s gone by now).
My Putu Piring Tastes Chalky
If you add too little water, or if you don’t steam it enough, the putu piring can come out tasting chalky. I’ve found if you leave it in the fridge overnight, uncovered, this chalkiness goes away. It will taste much better the next day if this is your problem.
I Added Too Much Water
This is a big problem. Only drizzle a little water at a time. It’s very easy to go from the light tiny breadcrumbs to a sticky gooey mess with one too many tablespoons of water.
I tried rectifying this by adding more rice flour. However, I found if you don’t toast this flour as well, it will mess with the consistency and the putu piring won’t cook right.
Coconut In The Middle Or On The Bottom
I tried it both of these ways, and I honestly liked the putu piring both ways taste wise. I think on the bottom is better though. It makes for a bigger change in texture, and the dish looks a little prettier. Plus, if people don’t like coconut, they won’t have to eat it.
Does Toasting The Flour Do Anything?
Yes, toasting the rice flour is a must. I tried adding some loose rice flour just to see what would happen. It didn’t cook at all. You will end up with just loose, dry flour.
I tried adding a scoop of peanut butter in the middle, just to see if it would work. Oh yeah it did. Adding the peanut butter is divine, it gives the putu piring a kind of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup flavor. Don’t put a lot of it though. Just directly in the center as a little surprise.
If you are interested in dumpling recipes from other countries I highly recommend my chapalele (potato dumplings with crispy pork skin) from Chile! Or for the more adventurous, how about akashiyaki (octopus balls) from Japan?
- bamboo steaming basket
- 2 cups rice flour
- 2 lemongrass chopped
- ¼ cup palm sugar shaved or grated
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- 1¼ cup water
- 1 lemongrass chopped
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Add your rice flour to a skillet, along with 2 chopped lemongrass stalks. Heat on medium and stir for 7 minutes. This will toast the rice flour and release some of the flavors of the lemongrass.
- Add water, 1 stalk of chopped lemongrass, vanilla extract and salt to a pot and boil for 7 minutes.
- Sift the rice flour into a mixing bowl, throw away the lemongrass. Take the lemongrass out of the water.
- Drizzle the water, one spoonful at a time into the flour. Mix it with a rubber spatula or your hands, breaking up clumps. It is ready once it starts to resemble small breadcrumbs and the flour holds its shape if you press it in your hands. This may not use all the water.
- Sift the rice flour again, breaking up any clumps.
- Put a layer of your rice flour in the bottom of a small bowl. Put a thinner layer of palm sugar on top of that. Cover with another layer of rice flour and smooth the surface. Add shredded coconut on top. Repeat until you are out of flour.
- Put the bowls in a bamboo steamer for 20 minutes, or shorter, depending on the size of your bowls.
- Take the bowls out, put a plate on top of them, and flip it. The rice cake should fall out of the bowl onto the plate. Enjoy!