Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cooking Kueh Dadar at Singapore's Cooking Playground

Singapore, located at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, is a wonderful mix of Chinese, Malay, and Indian. During the 15th and 16th centuries many Chinese traders came to Singapore, some stayed and married local Malay women creating a unique culture referred to as Peranakan. Their clothing and dishes are distinguished
by colorful floral designs. Typically Peranakans are well-educated and quite prosperous. Traditionally they lived in shophouses, two or three-story attached row-house-style buildings with the store at street level and the living quarters on the upper floors. The buildings were often colorfully painted. Today, in the Chinese historic district of Singapore, many of the shophouses have been beautifully restored. 

When John and I were in Singapore during March 2012 we visited the Peranakan Museum where we learned more about Peranakan culture. They retained the Chinese tradition of ancestor worship but the clothing styles tend to reflect their Malay heritage. To learn more we attended a cooking class at Food Playground, (www.foodplayground.com.sg, 4 Craig Road), where we learned to cook three Peranakan recipes. Food Playground opened in December 2012 on the second floor of a
shophouse. We were invited to attend the three-hour, hands-on class on a complimentary basis but a class normally costs $80 pp.  One of the recipes we learned to make was Kueh Dadar, a Nonya Peranakan snack or dessert.  Nonya refers to the female side of the Peranakan marriage which is traditionally Malay. 
Kueh Dadar (Pandan Pancakes with coconut filling)
Makes about 20 pancakes

4 to 5 tbsp palm sugar, thinly shaved (can substitute maple sugar)
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp water (or as needed) 
1 ½ (one and one half) cup grated coconut

1 egg
2/3 (two thirds) cup coconut milk
6 tbsp pandan juice 
¼ (one-fourth) tsp salt
1 ¼ (one and one-fourth) cup plain flour
1 ½ (one and one half) cup water or more as needed

Combine palm sugar, dark brown sugar and water in a pot. Heat over a medium flame until sugar dissolves. Stir in the grated coconut and continue to cook for a few minutes until mixture is wet but not runny. Set aside. To make the pancake, mix egg, coconut milk and pandan juice. Put the flour and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in mixture of egg, coconut milk and pandan juice. Mix well; it should not be lumpy. Add water as need to make a batter similar to pancake batter. Heat up a small shallow frying pan over a low flame and grease lightly with oil. Pour about ¼ (one fourth) cup of the batter in the center and swirl the pan to form a thin crepe of about 6 inches diameter. When it starts to brown, flip over, cook a few minutes more and remove. (Our teacher, Lena Tan said, “The first one is a test. Experiment with the batter thickness and temperature to get it right.) To prepare the roll, place 2 tbsp of filling on pancake and roll up like a spring roll. 

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