Glutinous Rice Balls - Ondeh-Ondeh

A delicious dessert for afternoon tea, ondeh-ondeh is a perennial favourite in many Malaysian homes. A classic Malay ‘kuih’ or cake made from glutinous rice flour and pandan leaf flavouring, it has a palm sugar filling and is rolled in grated coconut to give it a special flavour.

This dessert is often sold at roadside stalls in Malaysia. It is quite cheap and easy to get these ‘kuih’ but I prefer to prepare these treats for my family. Nothing beats home-cooked food that has the best, highest quality ingredients, prepared hygienically with a generous amount of love.


A boiling method is used to produce this yummy dessert that is soft on the outside and gooey on the inside. With its petite size, this dessert requires several portions to satisfy anyone’s taste buds. One bite into it produces the runny palm sugar and the sweetness sort of explodes in the mouth! Added to this is the flavourful grated or shredded coconut.

Fine glutinous rice flour is necessary to produce the soft and spongy texture of the rice balls. Mix some pandan leaf flavoured water with the flour to produce a soft dough. Divide the dough and shape into 2 cm sized balls and then flatten a little to put palm sugar filling in the centre.


The rice balls should be dropped in a pan of boiling water. It is easy to know when they are cooked: the rice balls will float to the surface of the water. Take them out of the boiling water with a sieve and immediately roll the balls in grated coconut to which a little salt has been added.

They are now ready to be relished by the family. Don’t forget to serve them with a nice hot cup of tea!

Note: A few drops of green food colouring may be used to produce the green colour of the rice balls if pandan leaves are not available.



1. Cut the pandan leaves into 4 cm sections and blend with 250 ml water. Sieve the juice into a bowl.

2. In a larger bowl, pour the pandan juice gradually into the glutinous rice flour and mix to form a soft dough.

3. Chop the palm sugar into small pieces.

4. Add sea salt to the grated coconut and mix well.

5. Divide the dough into roughly 20 pieces and shape into small balls, about 2 cm in diameter. Flatten each ball and add a few pieces of palm sugar in the centre, then bring the sides together to form a ball again, taking care not to leave any gaps where the sugar may flow out.

6. Boil some water in a pan. When the water is boiling, drop about 5 to 6 rice balls at a time into it. Once the rice balls start floating to the surface of the water, remove them with a sieve and drop them into the grated coconut. Toss the rice balls to coat with grated coconut well.

7. Serve the ondeh-ondeh.