Dish of the Day: Tepung pelita
A sweet and soft traditional Malay kuih or cake that comes in small boxes made from banana leaves. Ideal as an evening snack as it tastes sweet, creamy and smooth. The unique appearance of the Tepung Pelita has two distinct layers; white and green as it is wrapped in pandan leaves or banana leaves.
It consists of two layers where the top part is soft, white and is made from coconut milk that gives richness in taste. The bottom layer is made from rice flour, diluted coconut milk and pandan juice. The bottom layer is slightly harder than the top and usually greenish. It is a famous cake in Malaysia, especially during Ramadan. Due to its ingredient, it is best to serve chilled as it doesn’t last long.
What is Tepung Pelita?
Tepung Pelita has many other different names such as kuih Jongkong, kuih Limas and kuih Sampan. It is a two-layer cake made of coconut milk and pandan custard, steamed in small boxes made from banana leaves. As the bottom layer is green in colour, made it looks like it is placed on a lampstand, thus the name ‘Pelita’ which means lamp.
Traditionally, Tepung Pelita is cooked by layers. First, the containers are made from the banana leaves, and it is called temelong. The base of temelong is sprinkled with sugar that gives extra sweetness to the cake. Rice flour, diluted coconut milk, and pandan juice are poured first then steamed until it cooked to make the bottom layer.
Then, the top white slab made from coconut milk and rice flour is poured and heated for the second time. This cooking process might look complicated, but it’s worth every minute to enjoy this sweet and creamy dish.
History of Tepung Pelita
Tepung Pelita originated from Perak; however there is no specific origin story about it. Due to its sweetness and rich taste, it became popular not only in Malaysia but also in Indonesia and Singapore. Tepung Pelita is usually made daily for sale as it is not durable and cannot be stored at room temperature. If it is kept in the refrigerator, it can last up to 2 – 3days.
Tepung Pelita versus Kuih Tako
Many people are confused between Tepung Pelita and Kuih Tako due to their same appearance of two-layer cake in a small green box. However, there are differences in term of origins, ingredients, taste, and texture. Tepung Pelita originated from Perak while Kuih Tako comes from the southern part of the Peninsula.
Based on the ingredients, Tepung Pelita uses rice flour and sometimes wheat flour can also be used. On the other hand, Kuih Tako uses cornflour or Hoen Kwe. Sengkuang cina (water chestnut) that are finely diced or corn, are usually added to the latter. Tepung Pelita is much sweeter and has a richer taste compared to Kuih Tako.
The next differences are Tepung Pelita is usually cooked in banana leaves while Kuih Tako is cooked in pandan leaves. However, nowadays, both types of cakes can be cooked and served in a plastic container as it is more convenient. Tepung Pelita needs to be steamed in its container to cook it while Kuih Tako is already cooked and then poured in the container. Last but not least, Tepung Pelita has a soft texture while Kuih Tako has a jelly-like texture.
Where to find Tepung Pelita Malaysia
Tepung Pelita is a popular cake in Malaysia and can easily be found in most night markets and Malay stalls that sell dessert. Besides that, some places accept orders of Tepung Pelita for any events or banquets.
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Article Written By Anna
Anna is an absolute foodie, and lives by the motto that food is happiness. She is a writer by day and a gamer by night. She believes that good food comes from all over and is constantly amazed by the passion and dedication it takes to make food that warms the soul.