Gemblong is a sweet treat made of glutinous rice and coconut with the palm sugar coating.
It is one of Indonesian traditional Jajanan Pasar you can find in the West Java region.
Jajanan Pasar literally means food snacks that are being sold in the traditional markets. It is the food that you buy because you like them and want them. And there is a wide range of food items of Jajanan Pasar. From finger foods such as Gemblong, Klepon, Risoles, Kroket, Martabak Manis, etc. To dished foods such as Gado-gado, Soto Ayam, Ketoprak, Bubur Kacang Hijau, Mie Bakso, etc. And there are both sweets and savouries that are included in Jajanan Pasar.
So here, I’m sharing with you one of Jajanan Pasar recipes from West Java, Indonesia that is called Gemblong.
Traditional Jajanan Pasar
I remember when I was little I used to go with my mom for shopping at a traditional market. And I used to get excited when she finished getting everything she needed. Because it meant she would get treats for all of us from Jajanan Pasar.
Of all many things that I love, Gemblong was one of my favourites.
Because it has a very unique texture. It is crunchy on the outside, yet it’s soft and chewy on the inside. And the grated coconut in the glutinous rice makes Gemblong taste delectable. On top of that, the caramelized palm sugar gives a nice aroma with a not-sickly sweetness.
In short, it’s simply moreish.
If you ever go to Indonesia and happen to go to a mountainous area called Puncak – which lies on the way from Bogor to Bandung – you can see many street food sellers offering you Gemblong. I used to love buying them. It was such a treat we used to enjoy whilst killing the time in the traffic that was almost always horrendous. Too many cars.
Here in the UK, there is no way I can enjoy Gemblong unless I make it myself.
And after trying many recipes, I have settled with the tweaked and created version of my own recipe. It makes the best Gemblong ever. Even better than the ones I used to buy in Indonesia.
Because not only it tastes so good, but it is also simple and easy to make. It takes me about half an hour to make before I get my afternoon cup of coffee ready for the Gemblong.
Simple ingredients to make Gemblong
Glutinous rice flour
In the olden days, people used to pound the glutinous rice themselves. And the sweet treats you make with freshly pounded glutinous rice usually taste better. You can do the same if you want to.
But if you prefer practicality (like me), you can use ready pounded glutinous rice flour from an Asian shop in Chinatown. Or, you can order online here.
Similarly, Indonesians used to pound the rice themselves to make all sorts of sweet dishes. You may still come across people who still do this if you go to villages. Because freshly pounded rice makes better sweet treats.
But life gets busy these days, so you can always chose ready pounded rice flour instead.
Slaked lime water
It’s basically a Calcium Hydroxide food grade. It helps the food that is made of glutinous rice flour and rice flour to stay soft and chewy after they go cold.
For this recipe, you mix a ⅛ teaspoon of slaked lime with 2 tablespoons of water.
Traditionally, this recipe calls for freshly grated coconut. However, it goes bad very quickly that I don’t always have fresh coconut at home.
But I do keep desiccated coconut every so often.
So when I tried substituting the fresh coconut with desiccated coconut, I felt so chuffed to learn that the result was just the same if not better. Because it’s so convenient to get and to keep the dried coconut. It makes my cooking simpler and easier.
A little bit of salt in your sweet dishes and treats can improve the taste to a different level .
Palm sugar or soft dark brown sugar or dark muscovado sugar
Lots of Indonesian sweets and desserts use palm sugar. Maybe because Indonesia produces a lot of palm sugar as the result of being a tropical country that has lots of palm trees.
And the palm sugar with coconut makes a lovely combo for deliciously fragrant sweet treats.
However, if you find it hard to get palm sugar, you can swap it with soft dark brown sugar or dark muscovado sugar. Even though the fragrance is slightly different, they pair nicely too with the coconut.
You will want to add the water in a little by little and make sure you mix everything well between each addition.
If your mixture is dry, you can add a teaspoon of water each time.
How to make Gemblong
In principle, there are three steps you need to do to make Gemblong.
First, you add and mix all the dry ingredients, and put the water in little by little as you mix and knead the flour.
Secondly, you shape the flour dough and deep-fry them until lightly golden.
Thirdly, cook the sugar with ¼ cup of water until all the sugar dissolves and caramelizes. Then, put the fried-Gemblong in the sugar caramel. Mix and stir well. Let it cook for a few minutes before you switch the cooker off.
Top tip: if you find the dough is too dry, you can add more water a little at a time. And cook the sugar until it’s slightly caramelised so that it won’t melt quickly. Because if the sugar has water content in it, it can melt easily and make your gemblong wet.
I hope you enjoy reading this recipe and now thinking to try it. If you do, it will be great if you could share what you think about it in the comments below.
Before you go, don’t forget to check my other recipes that you may love.
- Serabi Kuah – Indonesian pancakes with brown sugar and coconut milk syrup.
- Kolak Biji Salak – Sweet potato balls with palm sugar and coconut milk syrup.
- Klepon – pandan flavoured glutinous rice balls with brown sugar filling and coconut coating.
- Martabak Manis – Indonesian sweet thick pancake.
- Potato donuts – crispy and fully donuts from Indonesia.
- Rujak Serut – Indonesian sweet potato slaw with sweet and spicy tamarind dressing.
Thank you and all the best.