Nagasari Pisang: Coconut Cakes with Banana (Vegan)

A classic Indonesian sweet snack consisting of little packets of banana leaves that contain steamed cakes of coconut milk thickened with flour and stuffed with sliced bananas.

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Deyana Goh
Deyana was born in Singapore and lives there. She is half-Chinese, half-Arab, with a grandmother who was born to an Arab family in Bogor, Indonesia. Deyana grew up eating Indonesian food as it is cooked in Arab-Indonesian households, and has fond memories of the festive whole chicken stuffed with lamb.

Nagasari is a delicious coconut-flavoured dessert. The dish is served in little packets on banana leaves, which are then unwrapped to reveal the soft white coconut cake that is to be eaten. The cake is made using a combination of rice flour, coconut milk, and a small quantity of tapioca flour to enable it to thicken more easily. 

Usually, the cakes are stuffed with an ingredient of choice, usually bananas or corn. Here, I’ve used bananas, or ‘pisang’ in Indonesian, to make the classic nagasari pisang – my favourite! The coconut-flour mixture is first cooked, and the wrapped in banana leaves along with the other

This dessert can be a little tricky to make for first-timers, so here are some tips to help you through the process:

Choosing your bananas

There are numerous types of bananas. Some are meant for cooking, and these are usually large, fairly dense, and not too sweet, like plantains. Others are soft and sweet, and can be eaten raw.

For nagasari, choose a banana that’s sweet but not too soft, with a slight sourness to it. Usually, pisang raja or pisang kepok, which are found throughout Southeast Asia, are used. For this recipe, I’ve used pisang rastali (this is what it’s called in Singapore), a sweet banana that’s sometimes used for frying. I’ve used this primarily because the supermarket was short of suitable bananas; you can choose any banana available that’s sweet and firm.

Cooking the flour with coconut milk

For this dish, coconut milk is often diluted slightly with water to temper the taste, so that the taste of the bananas don’t get overshadowed by that of the coconut. I haven’t done this for this recipe.

Cooking the flour-coconut milk mixture is similar to bubur sumsum. The most important thing when cooking is to ensure that the mixture solidifies somewhat, and turns into a smooth, sticky paste that’s coagulated into one giant ball. To do this, make sure you keep the heat very low and stir continuously, stopping only when the mixture begins to exude coconut oil. When this happens, stop immediately.

Wrapping the banana leaves

After cutting the banana leaves, place a tablespoon or two of the coconut-flour mixture in the middle of each leaf. Place the bananas in the centre of the mixture, and then cover the bananas with the flour. Then wrapped tightly; you can wrap it any way you like, but the most important thing is to make sure nothing is exposed. Then steam it.

When done, remove from the steamer and let it cool.

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Nagasari Pisang: Coconut Cakes with Banana (Vegan)

Nagasari Pisang: Steamed Coconut Cakes with Banana (Vegan)

  • Author: Deyana Goh
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Desserts, Snacks
  • Method: Steaming
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Nagasari pisang is a classic Indonesian sweet snack consisting of little packets of banana leaves that contain steamed cakes of coconut milk thickened with flour, stuffed with sliced bananas.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 100g rice flour
  • 20g tapioca flour
  • 30g sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 4 small ripe bananas
  • 4 banana leaves

Instructions

  1. Mix the rice flour, tapioca flour, sugar, salt, and coconut milk in a large cooking pan.
  2. Stir until the mixture becomes smooth.
  3. Heat the cooking pan over low heat. Stir continuously until the mixture coagulates into a smooth, solid ball, about 15 min. Turn off the stove.

    Stir until the mixture becomes smooth

  4. Meanwhile, slice each banana into two, and then into approx 2-3″ long pieces.

    Slice the bananas

  5. Put aside 4 banana leaves, and cut into squares approximately 12” by 12”. Put a smaller piece of banana leaf about 4″ x 4″ in the middle of each larger leaf.

    Put aside 4 banana leaves

  6. In the centre of each banana leaf, place a tablespoon of the coconut/flour mixture.

    place a tablespoon of the coconut/flour mixture

  7. Take a piece of the banana and place it in the centre of the banana leaf, on top of the mixture.

    Take a piece of the banana and place it in the centre

  8. Press the banana into the flour. If any part of the banana is exposed, cover with flour.
  9. Cover the banana/flour by folding the banana leaf tightly, making sure the filling isn’t exposed, to form a little banana leaf packet.

    fold the banana leaf tightly

  10. Repeat this for all the banana leaves.
  11. Steam the banana leaf packets for 20 minutes.

    Steam the banana leaf packets

  12. Serve immediately, or refrigerate to enjoy them cold!

Notes

  • You can then proceed to eat Nagasari hot, or keep it in the fridge and have it cold. In the fridge, it can last up to a week.

Keywords: Non-spicy, Tapioca, rice flour

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