Learn how to prepare wajik (Indonesian sticky rice cakes) with only 4 ingredients: white sticky rice, coconut milk, palm sugar, and pandan leaves. Vegan and gluten-free.
Wajik is a traditional Indonesian snack/cake made with steamed glutinous (sticky) rice and further cooked in palm sugar, coconut milk, and pandan leaves. The cooked rice is then spread and flatted in a baking tray. Once it cools to room temperature, we cut this into small pieces in the shape of a diamond (er, okay, a rhombus or a parallelogram to be geometrically precise). Incidentally, in a card game, the diamond is translated as a wajik. So, you are not supposed to cut your wajik into squares. ♥
What you need to prepare wajik (Indonesian sticky rice in palm sugar and pandan leaves).
As far as Indonesian snack/dessert/cake recipe goes, wajik is one of the simplest one to prepare. You need only 4 ingredients:
All four ingredients are critical and should not be substituted with anything else. Well, if you must, you can use black sticky rice (black glutinous rice) instead of white sticky rice, but you absolutely need the other three ingredients and these three should not be substituted at all.
A steamer and how to properly steam sticky rice
To make wajik, you will need a steamer to steam the white sticky rice. You can use a bamboo steamer, a stainless steel steamer, or even the steamer basket that comes with your rice cooker if it is large enough to hold the rice. Regardless of choice, here are my tips for successfully steaming sticky rice:
- Make sure there is enough water in the bottom pot for around one hour of steaming. I would suggest about 2” of water in the bottom pot.
- Make sure that the water is already boiling and there are plenty of steam visible before steaming the sticky rice.
- Just to be safe, line your steamer basket with either a clean kitchen towel, or a parchment paper riddled with tiny holes (smaller than the size of sticky rice) before you add the sticky rice. You don’t want the sticky rice to all end up falling down into the bottom pot instead of staying in the steamer basket.
- Make sure to steam the sticky rice until al dente (soft and tender to bite). I cannot stress this point enough. Since I cannot be sure that we all have the same temperature on our stoves and depending on the size of your steamer (and hence the depth of the rice), steaming time will vary. To test for doneness, grab a tiny spoon of steamed rice and eat it. If you like the texture, then that’s when you should stop steaming. Just for reference, on my 8” stainless steel steamer pot, I need 1 hour of steaming over medium high heat.
How to serve wajik
Like I mention earlier, wajik means diamond, as in the diamond suit in a pack of cards. The cake gets its name from this particular shape, so be sure to cut them into diamonds instead of squares or rectangles. Wajik is always served at room temperature, so although you can refrigerate any leftovers, be sure to take them out from the fridge and only serve them once they have return to room temperature.
Wajik - Sticky Rice in Palm Sugar and Pandan Leaves
- 400 gram white sticky (glutinous) rice (Indonesian: beras ketan putih), soaked for at least 2 hours or overnight
- 50 ml hot water
- 250 ml coconut milk
- 200 gram palm sugar (Indonesian: gula Jawa), shaved or chopped to small pieces
- 3 pandan leaves (Indonesian: daun pandan), knotted
- 8 inch square (i.e. 20 cm square) baking tray
- parchment paper, or saran wrap
- Prepare a steamer over medium high heat with at least 2 inch of water in the bottom pot. Line the steamer basket with kitchen towel/parchment paper riddled with small holes that are smaller than the size of the sticky rice.
- Place sticky rice in the steamer basket, and steamfor 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, sprinkle the rice with the 50 ml of hot water. Continue steaming for another 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, boil coconut milk, pam sugar, and pandan leaves in a pot over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stir to make sure that the palm sugar dissolves. Strain, discard the pandan leaves and all the impurities. Return the strained liquid to a large skillet/frying pan.
- Once the sticky rice has finished steaming, transfer the rice into the skillet/frying pan containing the palm sugar syrup. Cook on low heat, stir until the liquid is fully absorbed by the rice and is somewhat dry.
- Prepare a baking tray lined with parchment paper/saran wrap, then transfer the rice into the tray. Press and flatten the rice with a spatula as best as you can. Let it cool at room temperature, this should take about 1 to 2 hours.
- Once it has cooled sufficiently, cover the baking tray with a cutting board. Please use a cutting board that is bigger than the baking tray. Flip the rice onto the cutting board, and cut into small diamond/rhombus/parallelogram shapes.