Recipe: A Balinese Pumpkin Treat
Early this morning, I accompanied Chef Iwayan Ariana of Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay to the local fish and vegetable markets. Our mission: to pick out the ingredients for today’s Balinese cooking class. Of all the vibrantly coloured fresh foods displayed in baskets and on tables along the beach, I was most surprised to find pumpkins.
I usually associate pumpkins with autumn and Thanksgiving in North America, so I didn’t expect to stumble upon them in tropical Southeast Asia. As it turns out, pumpkins are quite popular all year long here in Bali, and I was eager to learn more about how locals prepare this versatile gourd.
The first dish we learned to make in our cooking class was a pumpkin and coconut dessert called kue labu. It’s a Balinese treat that’s easy to make, tastes creamy and sweet, and has the texture of a flan or custard.
Follow this recipe from Chef Ariana to make it for yourself.
Kue Labu (Balinese Pumpkin Treat)
375 ml (13 ounces) coconut milk
100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 piece pandan leaf (If you can’t find pandan leaf at a local Asian market, you can substitute one vanilla bean instead)
55 grams (2 ounces) cornstarch
250 grams (9 ounces) grated pumpkin, steamed
100 ml (1/2 cup) water
Combine the coconut milk, sugar, salt and pandan leaf (or vanilla bean) in a saucepot, and bring to a boil. Combine water and cornstarch until thoroughly homogenised. Slowly stir the dissolved cornstarch into the boiling coconut milk. When the mixture begins to thicken, add steamed pumpkin, while continuing to stir to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook the mixture until you have a thick batter consistency. Remove from flame, pour into cake mould and let cool. (In the cooking school, they showed us how to press the mixture into a rice bowl to create a dome shape.) Cut out into desired shapes and serve.