• The Green Spoon

11 Malaysian Desserts That Are Surprisingly Plant-Based!

Updated: Sep 23, 2021

Most of the time, going plant-based sparks us to think outside the box, to experiment with cooking new dishes inspired by our favourite foods. That being said, there are many local desserts that are actually Plant-based! So save this list to use next time you spot a roadside stall or for your sweet tooth cravings!

1. Sago Gula Melaka

A delicious pudding of sago pearls (made from extracted starch of sago palm tree stems), fragrant coconut milk and gula melaka. You won't find this dessert commonly at eateries but it's quite easy to make at home, try out this recipe from Grace at Nyonya Cooking!

2. Cendol

Ask any Malaysian and each person will give you directions to their ultimate cendol stall. It's a perfect cooling dessert made for hot summer days with shaved ice, coconut milk, green pandan jelly, red beans and palm sugar. Some vendors may add evaporated milk or condensed milk so ask if you're unsure!

3. Tau Foo Fah

Also known as Dou Hua in Mandarin, the simplicity of this dessert is its highlight - silken tofu served warm or cold with brown sugar syrup infused with pandan or ginger. Watch Kristin Tan create this delicacy below!

4. Ondeh - ondeh

Ever had one heavenly bite of Ondeh Ondeh and its sweetness just bursts into your mouth? Essentially, they are small pandan infused glutinous rice or sweet potato balls filled with palm sugar or gula melaka rolled in grated coconut. This Malaysian crowd favourite originates from our neighbours in Java, Indonesia who call it Klepon.

5. Lepat Pisang

Everyone knows Goreng Pisang (fried banana fritters) but occasionally egg is added to the batter they are fried in. You can always ask the hawker uncle or auntie if they added eggs but a safer alternative is Lepat Pisang (steamed banana packets) made of bananas, flour, sugar and coconut milk. Watch this easy recipe video below and make some in a few minutes!

6. Pulut Inti

Steamed glutinous rice topped with gula melaka coconut filling. It's often wrapped with banana leaves like a nasi lemak and sometimes coloured blue with butterfly pea flowers, an aesthetically pleasing and tasty dessert!

7. Kuih Tepung Pelita

Made of rice flour custard, there are two layers in this kuih - coconut milk and pandan flavoured. They are usually filled in tiny banana leaf boats just like Lepat Pisang. Here's an other recipe from Nyonya Grace you can save for later.

8. Kuih Lapis

Available in a variety of colours Kuih Lapis is another jiggly coconut pudding that everyone loves. The perfect Kuih Lapis should have the layers peel apart without sticking together, super satisfying! It's often made of coconut milk, tapioca flour, rice flour, sugar and food colouring.

9. Dodol

A classic toffee-like sweet that is commonly served during Hari Raya. This gula melaka, coconut milk, glutinous rice flour and sugar confection can take up to 12 hours to cook!

10. Kuih Keria

A sweet potato donut, it tastes as good as it sounds! The fried dough consists of wheat flour and mashed potatoes, which is then glazed with a sugar syrup. Make this at home with Davina's recipe here!

11. Red Bean Bao

That pillowy yeast risen dough and the slightly sweet red bean filling (occasionally some sellers add butter or coconut oil into the filling, so it's advisable to double check with them), you can't go wrong with a red bean bao! Check out Gan Hee Yuan's mouth-watering recipe below.

Now you can eat some of your favourite Malaysian Desserts without worrying if they are Plant-based or not. However, keep in mind that some vendors may add ingredients different to others and the norm. So if you're doubtful, always ask and remember this list only has a tiny fraction of so many more Plant-based Desserts, keep exploring and surely you will find more!


Written by Ravika Ravichandran.

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