What is Klepon?
Klepon is a sweet snack made of glutinous rice flour stuffed with palm sugar and coated with grated coconut.
This rice ball has a chewy texture because of the glutinous rice. It’s also tinted with pandan extract that gives a sweet but soft fragrance. An aroma that pairs nicely with the shredded coconut outside the klepon. And inside, it has brown palm sugar that will burst when you bite it.
These delicious sweet treats are one of the well-known Jajanan Pasar – which literally means savoury snacks and sweet treats that are sold in traditional markets.
And you can find street food sellers who sell this chewy gooey rice ball in most traditional markets across the country. Though they are called differently from place to place.
Klepon – or often spelled as Kelepon – is the popular name in islands of Java, Bali, Lombok, etc. While in the islands of Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi, this green sticky rice ball is called Onde-onde.
Interestingly, Malaysia also has this sweet snack and it is also called Onde-onde.
History of Klepon
Historically, Klepon is an influence of Chinese food which is ma shu. Both are made of glutinous rice and shaped into balls. And ma shu has travelled far and wide across south Asia.
You can find it as Mochi in Japan, Doushu in Taiwan, Lo Mai Chi in Hongkong and Indonesian Chinese make something similar with the same name, Mochi.
However, those sticky glutinous rice balls have different stuffings and coatings from one to another.
Some use red beans, peanuts, sesame seeds, etc for the fillings. And most of them have cornflour/ cornstarch for the coating.
Whilst Klepon has palm sugar on the inside with grated coconut on the outside.
But the glutinous rice bit has exactly the same texture.
Oh, another thing, Klepon is flavoured with the extract of Suji leaves and Pandan leaves.
What you need to make the sticky rice balls
In total, you only need 8 items to make Klepon. And they are:
- Glutinous rice flour.
- Rice flour.
- Pandan leaves or pandan extract.
- Palm sugar (jaggery) or soft dark brown sugar.
- Slaked lime water.
- Shredded coconut or desiccated coconut.
Nowadays, you can get all these ingredients from Asian shops in Chinatown or from online shopping.
Of all the items above, slaked lime water is probably the one that you may not know. It is actually Calcium Hydroxide. It is used to help the glutinous rice stay soft and chewy. You only need a tiny bit of Slaked lime. For this recipe, you just mix ⅛ tsp of slaked lime powder (Calcium Hydroxide) – which is literally a pinch – with 2 tablespoons of water.
As for the colouring and the fragrance, the best is to use pandan leaves.
Cut 2-3 pandan leaves in small pieces and put them in a blender. Add the required water for the recipe and blend the two until you get green water.
Strain and sieve the pandan water before using.
However, you can also use pandan extract. It has a green food colouring.
Though it may not be as good as using pandan leaves, this pandan extract is a very good substitute for convenience.
When it comes to sugar, it’s best to use coconut palm sugar as it’s tastier. But if it’s not available to you, dark soft brown sugar or dark muscovado sugar are good alternatives to choose. If you want to use palm sugar, it is also called jaggery in Asian Indian shops.
How to make Klepon
The first time I made Klepon I was so surprised with how easy and simple it was.
First, you make the dough by mixing all the dry ingredients. And then add the slaked lime water and the water.
Mix and knead the mixture until it doesn’t stick on your hand and has a soft-to-touch texture like children’s playing dough.
Secondly, take one tablespoon of the dough and shape it into a ball. Flatten the dough and put a teaspoon of brown sugar in the centre.
Cover the sugar with the edges of the dough and shape the dough back into a ball. This time, a bigger ball.
Thirdly, boil about 1-1.5 litre of water in a cooking pot. When the water boils, put the dough balls in the water. When they float on the water surface, let them cook further for another 2-3 minutes before you take them out.
Lastly, leave the rice balls to cool down slightly before rolling them on the coconut.
Top tips to make deliciously chewy Klepon
- Knead the dough until it’s soft and pliable.
- Grease your hands with a little oil before working on the dough to make the balls.
- With just a drop of oil, grease a plate to put the ready cooked glutinous rice balls before rolling them on the coconut.
- Using shredded coconut gives a better taste. If you can obtain it, make sure you steam the coconut with a pinch of salt before using. Steaming prevents the coconut from going bad quickly.
You can keep completely-cooled-down klepon in the fridge for upto a week. Just make sure you store them in a tight-lidded food container.
When needed, you can also freeze the sweet balls for upto 2 months.
Steam the sweet treats before serving so they will be soft again. If you want, you can use a microwave too. Just reheat it for about 20-30 seconds depending on how many you are having.
More street food recipe ideas
I surely hope you are now interested in trying this Klepon recipe. If you do, please share what you think about it in the comments below. I’ll really appreciate it.
And don’t forget to check my other Jajanan Pasar recipes that you may love.
- Bubur Kacang Hijau – Indonesian mung bean dessert with coconut milk.
- Serabi Kuah – Indonesian pancakes with sugar syrup and coconut milk.
- Kolak Biji Salak – Indonesian sweet potato balls in palm sugar syrup and coconut milk.
- Dadar Gulung – Indonesian pandan crepe with coconut and palm sugar stuffing.
- Martabak Manis – Indonesian sweet thick pancake.
Take care and all the best.