Learning > Recipes

Make nonya-style pengat to feed a crowd

Pengat is a sweet dish found in Indonesian, Malay and Nonya cuisine. This week's recipe is my spin on the Nonya-style pengat.

Hedy Khoo on 14 Jun 2018

The New Paper


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(THE NEW PAPER) - A Baba Malay Dictionary by William Gwee defines pengat as a sweet dish of banana, yam and sweet potato cooked in coconut milk and palm sugar.


It seems similar to bubur cha cha except there is no use of tapioca pearls, and the banana lends its sweetness to the pengat.


In pengat, the yam and sweet potatoes are usually in large pieces, but I chose to cut them into cubes for shorter cooking time.


One fruit seller recommends the use of pisang raja or pisang kepok for making pengat. It is best to use ripe bananas.


I used pisang kepok as I could not find pisang raja that were sufficiently ripe. I added Australian pumpkin as I like its texture and natural sweetness.


This recipe produces a large amount of pengat. Adjust the recipe accordingly if you want to cook a smaller portion.


You do not have to use sweet potatoes in different colours.



  • 1.7 litres of water
  • 300g gula jawa or gula melaka (palm sugar), chopped
  • 16 pandan leaves, tied into knots of four leaves each
  • 40g dried sago pearls
  • Half of a small yam (300g)
  • 1 yellow-fleshed sweet potato (200g)
  • 1 orange-fleshed sweet potato (250g)
  • 1 purple-fleshed sweet potato (300g)
  • 1 pumpkin wedge (200g)
  • 3 ripe bananas (500g), sliced diagonally 2cm thick
  • 1 litre of coconut milk
  • 500ml of coconut cream
  • 1 flat tsp salt



1. Pour 1.2 litres of water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the chopped palm sugar and one knot of pandan leaves. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes until sugar is dissolved.


2. Turn off the heat and strain the palm sugar syrup using a sieve lined with muslin cloth to remove impurities. Set aside.


3. Fill a saucepan with 500ml of water and bring to a boil. Add sago pearls and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and keep saucepan covered for 10 minutes or until the sago pearls are translucent.


4. Using a sieve, drain the pearls.


5. Place the pearls in iced water. Drain and transfer them into a bowl. Set aside.


6. Cut yam, sweet potatoes and pumpkin into 2.5cm cubes.


7. Place yam and a knot of pandan leaves in a steamer and steam for two minutes.


8. Add sweet potatoes and another knot of pandan leaves. Steam for another two minutes.


9. Add pumpkin and steam for eight minutes. Remove the steamed yam, sweet potatoes and pumpkin from the steamer.


10. Bring palm sugar syrup to a boil, then add sliced bananas and last knot of pandan leaves. Simmer for three minutes.


11. Add steamed yam, sweet potatoes and pumpkin. Let mixture come to a simmer and add coconut milk and coconut cream.


12. Let mixture come to a simmer, add sago pearls to mixture and season with salt. Turn off heat.


13. Serve hot or chilled.


Source: The New Paper © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.


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