Kueh Dadar are commonly eaten in Singapore and across Southeast Asia as a popular sweet treat snack or dessert. These vibrant coloured rolled-up crepes get their colour from pandan leaves, and are filled with a sticky coconut filling that’s sweetened by Malaysian palm sugar.
6 pandan leaves*
¼ cup caster (superfine) sugar
½ cup plain (all-purpose) flour
pinch of salt
1 cup coconut milk
2 tsp vegetable oil, plus extra for cooking
100g (3.5 oz) palm sugar*, shaved
1/3 cup water
2 pandan leaves, bruised and tied in a knot
200g (7 oz) fresh grated coconut (you could also buy it frozen, then thaw it first)
1/4 tsp salt
For the coconut filling, combine the palm sugar, water and pandan leaves in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally, then cook for 1–2 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the coconut, then cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3–4 minutes or until the liquid is quite reduced but still a little visible in the base of the pan; you don’t want the coconut to be completely dry. Stir in the salt. Empty out coconut mixture into a bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Using kitchen scissors or a knife, cut the pandan leaves into small pieces. Combine in a food processor or blender with ½ cup water, then process until the pandan is very finely minced and a bright green liquid forms. Strain the mixture well into a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Using clean hands, firmly squeeze the solids so they release as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids.
In a large bowl, combine the caster sugar, flour and salt. In a separate bowl lightly whisk ¼ cup of the pandan liquid (freeze the rest for another use – it’ll last for 2–3 months), eggs and coconut milk. Whisk the pandan mixture into the flour mixture until a smooth, light batter is formed.
Heat a 16.5cm/ 6 1/2 inch (base measurement), heavy-based frying pan (a non-stick version will be your best friend here) over medium-low heat. Brush the base very lightly with oil, using kitchen towel to wipe off any excess. Ladle a ¼ cup of the batter onto the pan, swirling as it sets. Cook for 2–3 minutes or until the pancake looks dry on top. You don’t want ANY colouring at all, so keep a close eye on it. Using a metal spatula, loosen the edges of the pancake, taking care as the pancakes are a little fragile and the pan is hot, then turn over. Cook for another 30 seconds to cook through. Remove to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, wiping the pan occasionally with a little extra oil if necessary. Cool the stacked, cooked pancakes to room temperature.
Remove and discard the pandan leaves from the coconut filling. Working with one pancake at a time, place 1 slightly heaped tablespoon of the coconut filling not quite in the middle of each, forming it into an even line about 10cm (4”) long and using your fingers to neaten it. Fold the sides of the pancake over the filling, then roll the pancake up to form a neat, even log (watch the video for the technique). Kueh dadar are best served on the day they are made.
– Also called ‘screwpine’, pandan leaves are often referred to as the ‘vanilla of Asia’. It’s the juices in the leaves that give the fantastic colour and that alluring, perfume-y flavour. If you can’t get fresh pandan, in a pinch you can use pandan essence (maybe 1½ tsp) plus a few drops of green food colouring to approximate the fresh thing. Sometimes you can find frozen fresh leaves at Asian stores.
– It’s worth finding good-quality Malaysian palm sugar (gula melaka) for this recipe although you could also use Indian jaggery if that’s easier to find. Both of these sugars have a rich, deep flavour that is unmistakable.