Thursday, September 1, 2011

Apam Berkuah (Banana Coconut Pancakes)

I had never heard of this traditional Nyonya dessert before until a friend of mine mentioned it to me, and kindly shared the recipe which comes from a cookbook by Terry Tan. I was excited about making it because I had some blue pea flowers (bunga telang) which I seldom used, and this was the perfect opportunity to use them. These pancakes are wonderfully light and fluffy, and together with the thick and rich banana sauce (more like a gravy, really), it was a match made in tropical heaven. Each bite just melts in your mouth, and will have you wanting (and eating) more.

As I didn't have the special apam mould, which is a pan with several depressions/craters, I used my small Kenwood frying pan instead to make individual pancakes, one at a time. Here is the recipe:

Apam Berkuah
Adapted from Terry Tan


250g rice flour
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cup coconut water, or plain water mixed with 2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/4 tsp dried yeast
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp cake flour
2 tbsp glutinous rice flour
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup coconut milk
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 tbsp bunga telang juice, optional (or substitute with a little blue colouring)

100g gula melaka
3 tbsp caster sugar
1/3 cup water
2 pandan/screwpine leaves, knotted
1 1/4 cup coconut milk
2 tsp glutinous rice flour, dissolved in 3 tbsp water
1/2 tsp salt
5 medium bananas, sliced into rounds

  1. Stir 2 tbsp of rice flour and 1/3 cup water together over low heat, until mixture thickens to a paste. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and whisk in remaining rice flour, coconut water, yeast, sugar, cake flour, and glutinous rice flour. Let stand at cool room temperature for 2 hours or unitl frothy and doubled in volume.
  2. Whisk in coconut milk and let it stand for another hour.
  3. Lightly stir the batter. Heat an apam berkuah pan over low-med heat. Grease depressions with oil. When hot, ladle a scant 2 tbsp of the batter into each depression. The batter should sizzle. Then swirl in a drop of bunga telang juice. Cover and cook for 5 to 6 mins, until the top of the pancakes are cooked and the bottoms are browned. Transfer pancakes to a plate. You should get 20 to 22 pancakes in total.
  4. To make the sauce, bring gula melaka, caster sugar, water and pandan leaves to a boil in a pot over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add coconut milk, glutinous rice flour mixture, salt and bananas and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 mins or until bananas are just tender. Serve hot with pancakes. 

  1. If you don't have the special apam berkuah pan/mould, you can cook the pancakes individually in a small 14cm frying pan with a thick base, with a tight-fitting lid to cover.
  2. Bunga telang is also known as blue-pea flower, and is commonly used in Nyonya cooking, especially for colouring glutinous rice. The flowers can be dried and stored in the fridge for future use. Just a few petals soaked in 1 tbsp hot water is sufficient to produce a vibrant and deep blue colour.