When waffles come to mind, we tend to think of the American version. For instance, pairing it with ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream and in some cases, fried chicken. In Asia, we like to get inspiration from these Western dishes and put a twist to it with Asian flavours.
Vietnam, in particular, has their very own signature Coconut Pandan Waffles or Bánh Kẹp Lá Dứa. The pandan leaves don’t just give the waffles its green colour, but it also adds the creamy depth of flavour and a fragrant taste.
The coconut, on the other hand, adds a different layer of texture and sweetness. Mix the ingredients together and you a guilty pleasure that we wouldn’t mind having for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The History of Waffles
Waffles, one of the most popular breakfast dishes that can be enjoyed savoury or sweet actually originated from Greece. It was initially called Obelios, and the concept was simple – it was a flat cake made with grain flour and water, and is cooked using two metal plates with wooden handles. The waffles were then served as a meal for final blessings, and only the church had permission to make them.
The church then started giving out permission to other folks to begin making Obelios and people began experimenting by adding more ingredients until eventually, the wafer was born. Since members of the public started making their own wafer, the wafer recipe spread and was adopted in Europe.
Somewhere in the 15th century, the Dutch caught on to Obelios, but instead of making a round flat cake, they started using square metal plates. Thus, forming them into the grid pattern that we are familiar with today.
When the Dutch travelled to America in the 16th century, they brought the recipe with them and it became an instant hit. So much so that in the mid-1800s, Cornelius Swartwout of New York patented his first waffle-maker – one that is most similar to the waffle-maker we use today.
The History of Bánh Kẹp Lá Dứa
Some studies showed that vendors in Vietnam already sold their version of waffles, the bahn or flour cake-breads throughout the 19th century. Influenced by the French colonial, Vietnamese vendors started using French cooking equipment (like the waffle-maker) while still using local ingredients like rice flour and pandan leaves.
When the relationship between America and Vietnam grew in the 20th century, Bánh Kẹp Lá Dứa started appearing on Vietnam streets. The idea behind it is that the US influence had a more significant impact on Vietnamese food than previously.
What makes the Coconut Pandan Waffles unique to Vietnam is the use of coconut milk to substitute the use of normal cow’s milk. Additionally, the use of rice flour or tapioca flour instead of wheat flour used to make traditional waffles.
Because of the depth of flavour and sweetness from the coconut milk and the fragrant, unique taste from the pandan leaves; the Coconut Pandan Waffles are often consumed without the need of any accompaniments such as syrup or butter.
Where to get Bánh Kẹp Lá Dứa in Malaysia
Pandan leaves and coconut milk are two prevalent ingredients in Malaysian cuisine. If you want to enjoy the distinctive taste of Asia in a waffle, try the Pandan and Coco Waffle from Pan & Tamper in Mont Kiara or head to Fluffed Café & Dessert Bar in Petaling Jaya and try their “Peter Pan” Waffle which is a combination of Pandan Waffle served with Coconut Ice Cream, Pandan Kaya and Caramelised Banana.
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