This is another popular kuih from Malaysia and Singapore. ‘Talam’ is a Malay word meaning ‘tray’, because the kuih is steamed in a tray-like steaming pan and it is made into two layers, one layer sweet and the other savoury. The pandan version is the most basic of this kuih. There are many variations within this one kuih including palm sugar version, banana version, sweet corn version and also cendul (chendol) version.
Makes approx. 12 bite-size morsels
Green Bottom Layer:
50g rice flour
15g mung bean starch (hoen kwee flour)
1/3 teaspoon alkaline water (lye water)
85g white granulated sugar
180ml thin coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon pandan paste (or 3 pandan leaves, pulverised with a little of the thin coconut milk to obtain juice, then sieved)
White Top Layer *:
40g mung bean starch (hoen kwee flour)
25g rice flour
1 teaspoon white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
150ml thin coconut milk
75ml thick coconut milk
2 pandan leaves, torn & knotted
* The white top layer of this recipe is quite firm, if you prefer a softer texture, reduce the mung bean starch to 30g and the rice flour to 15g, and may increase the thin coconut milk to 200ml.
Prepare a 15cm round steaming tray or baking pan and grease lightly with cooking oil.
Green Bottom Layer:
1. Mix rice flour and mung bean starch in a mixing bowl. Slowly pour in water and mix into a batter without any lumps. Stir in alkaline water.
2. Put sugar, thin coconut milk and pandan paste (or pandan juice) in a saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and it just comes to a slow boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour slowly into the flour mixture, stirring at the same time to mix well.
3. Heat the prepared pan in the steamer until hot.
4. Pour the green batter into the hot pan in the steamer and stir until the bottom of the batter starts to set, about 2-3 minutes. Stop stirring and cover the steamer. Steam over high heat for about 15 minutes, or until set.
White Top Layer:
1. Mix mung bean starch, rice flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Slowly pour in thin coconut milk and mix into a batter without any lumps. Set aside this white batter.
2. When the bottom layer is almost done, pour the white batter into a saucepan and add thick coconut milk and pandan leaves. Cook over moderate heat for about 1 minute, stirring gently all the time to avoid any bubbles forming, until the bottom just starts to set. Remove pandan leaves.
3. When the green bottom layer is set, lightly scratch the surface with a fork. Then pour the white batter on top of the set green layer. Steam over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, or until set.
The air bubbles on the surface of the white batter when steaming resulting in uneven surface.
4. Remove pan from the steamer and let the kuih cool in the pan completely. Then remove the kuih from the pan and cut into bite-size morsels (square or diamond shapes) with a plastic knife. Serve.
As it is quite hard to get freshly grated coconut to squeeze for fresh coconut milk here, this is what I did. For the thick and thin coconut milk, I used a small carton, 200ml, of Kara brand Coconut Cream. Removed 75ml to use as thick coconut milk for the top layer. Then topped the remaining 125ml Coconut Cream with water to make 330ml as thin coconut milk, used 180ml for the bottom layer and 150ml for the top layer. If you can get fresh coconut milk, which is preferable, use grated white coconut flesh from about 3/4 of a coconut. Squeeze without adding water and you should get about 200ml of thick coconut milk.
Texture: Green bottom layer is sweet & firm custard-like, while the white top layer is savoury, firmer & has a bite to it.
Consume: Best within 24 hours
Storage: Store, covered, at room temperature, or chilled in the refrigerator in hot whether
Recipe References: ‘Kueh Talam Pandan’ by Mrs Leong Yee Soo, ‘Kuih Talam’ by Amy Beh, & ‘Kuih Talam’ by Florence Tan