Kolak Biji Salak – Sweet Potato Balls

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In Indonesia, there are desserts made with all sorts of different things that you eat with palm sugar syrup and coconut milk. This type of sweets is called Kolak.  

Some popular ones are Kolak Pisang (Pisang means banana), Kolak Ubi (Ubi means sweet potato), and Kolak Biji Salak which is sweet potato balls. 


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Kolak biji salak - Indonesian sweet potato balls in sugar syrup and coconut milk

Now, the latter can be tricky to explain. Because Biji Salak literally means Salak’s seed. 

Salak – which is also known as snake fruit due to its scaly skin – is the fruit from palm tree family and is native to some of the Indonesian regions. It has brown scaly skin with beige fruit flesh inside that shaped in lobes like garlic. And each lobe has a large brown seed that looks like a stone. It is from this seed that Kolak Biji Salak’s name comes from 😊.

So yeah, although it may sound like a merry-go-round for me to explain, I hope you understand what and why the recipe I’m sharing with you here has a funny name.

Traditionally, Indonesians enjoy Kolak more than ever during the fasting month, Ramadan. After a long day of fasting, people would break their fast with something sweet. And Kolak is one of the many popular options. 

However, Kolak is also liked for an afternoon snack that people enjoy with a cup of freshly brewed Indonesian coffee. Ahh, it reminds of my dad now.

Anyway, I chose to share Kolak Biji Salak recipe this time around. Because, not only it is my favourite Kolak (pardon my selfishness 😄), but also it is something definitely new to many people. So I want to challenge your tastebud for a new food adventure. I promise I will share more recipes of Kolak in the future.

a bowl of sweet potato balls and a bowl of coconut milk with two dessert spoons

The ingredients you need

Sweet potatoes

There are a few types of sweet potatoes. This recipe uses the most common type which is sweet potato with orangey flesh. 

Tapioca flour

This one is one principal ingredient of the recipe. Tapioca flour is made of Cassava starch, and it is slightly different from its cousin, Cassava flour. Because cassava flour is made of the whole root of cassava that it has more fibre. 

I’ve never replaced this tapioca flour with any other type of grain flour. Healthline website suggests that you can substitute tapioca flour with another 6 types of flour. You can check their article here.

Sugar

The original recipe uses palm sugar. But you can substitute with dark muscovado sugar or dark soft brown sugar

Coconut milk

In Indonesia, people would make their own coconut milk from freshly grated coconut. You can do the same if you want 😉. But for practicality, let’s just use tinned coconut milk. Just make sure you choose a good quality one.

Pandan leaf

Pandan leaf gives your Kolak Biji Salak a tropical fragrance. So that it will smell authentic. However, don’t worry if you can’t get hold of this aromatic leaf. You can still enjoy your Kolak by using good quality Vanilla extract or even Vanilla seeds from the pod.

Salt

Last but not least, you need salt in this recipe. A pinch of salt in your sweet dishes and desserts can actually enhance the flavour and make your cooking taste way better. 

Kolak Biji Salak - Indonesian sweet potato balls in a bowl with sugar syrup and coconut milk

How to make Kolak Biji Salak

As I mentioned above, Kolak is the name that refers to Indonesian desserts that have sugar syrup and coconut milk. And the dominant part of this recipe is Biji Salak which is sweet potato balls. So they are two things to focus on this syrupy dish.

The sweet potato balls will have a sweetish taste (from the sweet potato) with a slightly chewy texture. The aim is to get the right chewiness. 

Because some recipes use a higher ratio of tapioca flour that they yield very chewy potato balls that they’re almost like rubber.

This happens because people tend to add more flour to make things easy for them to work on the dough. Because the sweet potato may release lots of water that makes your mixture a bit wet and difficult to shape. 

Steam the sweet potatoes

You can boil the potatoes, but I find them too wet to work on as they contain more water in the flesh. So I prefer to steam the sweet potatoes. Top tip: cook steam the sweet potatoes with the skin on and let them completely cool down before you peel and start making your Biji Salak. 

Make the dough balls

When your sweet potatoes are cooled down, mash them until there is no lump at all. Then add in the salt and the tapioca flour, and mix them thoroughly.

If the mixture is too wet, you can add more one or two tablespoons of tapioca flour. Add in little by little and try not to add more than two tablespoons.

Shape the dough into balls, and cook them in hot boiling water. When they are floating on the surface, it means they’re thoroughly boiled and ready to spoon out.

Boil the sugar syrup and coconut milk

In a saucepan, you boil and simmer the sugar, salt, pandan leaf and water until they become a thick syrup. In another pan, you cook the coconut milk, salt and pandan leaf until the coconut milk looks shiny and has a little bit of oil that separates from the coconut milk.

Kolak Biji Salak with palm sugar syrup and coconut milk
Kolak Biji Salak with palm sugar syrup and coconut milk
Kolak Biji Salak with palm sugar syrup and coconut milk
Sweet potato balls in palm sugar syrup without the coconut milk
Sweet potato balls in palm sugar syrup without the coconut milk

Assemble Kolak Biji Salak

This is the fun part. 

Put some or however many of your cooked sweet potato balls in a bowl. Spoon over some sugar syrup and drizzle over the coconut milk. And enjoy 😃.

A bowl of Kolak biji salak - Indonesian sweet potato balls in palm sugar syrup with coconut milk

Kolak Biji Salak - Indonesian Sweet Potato balls

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

These Indonesian sweet potato balls have a slightly chewy texture. They are called Kolak Biji Salak which you enjoy with brown sugar syrup and drizzle of creamy coconut milk. They're delicious for dessert or just afternoon snack. Yummy.

Ingredients

  • For sweet potato balls:
  • 500 gr/ 17.64 oz sweet potatoes.
  • 100 gr/ 5.29 oz tapioca flour.
  • ⅛ tsp salt.
  • For the syrup:
  • 250 gr/ 8.82 oz dark muscovado sugar or dark soft brown sugar.
  • 100 ml/ 3.38 fl.oz. water.
  • 400 ml/ 13.53 fl.oz. coconut milk.
  • Pandan leaf (see the note).
  • ¼ tsp salt.

Instructions

Steam the sweet potatoes until cooked. Let them completely cool before you peel and mash them smoothly.

Add in the tapioca flour and salt into mashed sweet potatoes. Stir and mix well using a wooden spoon.

Shape and roll the potato mix into small balls. Set aside. If the mixture is too wet and sticky, you can add one or two tablespoons of tapioca flour. But try not to add more than that.

In a big pot, boil about 1 ½ litre of water at medium heat.

When the water reaches boiling points, put the sweet potato balls in the water. And cook until all the balls floating on the water surface. It takes about 6-10 minutes for the sweet potato to boil and float around.

Using a slotted spoon, pick the floating Biji Salak/ the sweet potato balls and drain them. Set aside.

In a saucepan, boil the sugar, salt, water and half of the pandan leaf. When it reaches boiling point, let it simmer for about 5 minutes until the syrup is a bit thick. 

In another saucepan, boil the coconut milk, salt and the remaining of pandan leaf until it reaches boiling point. Let it simmer gently for about 5 minutes until you see the coconut milk is slightly shiny and there’s a little bit of oil separates from the coconut milk on the side. 

To serve, put some sweet potato balls in a dessert bowl, then add a tablespoon or two of the sugar syrup. Lastly, drizzle the coconut milk on the top.

Enjoy.

Notes

  • If possible, try to use palm sugar. But if you can’t get hold of it, dark muscovado sugar or dark soft brown sugar will do the job.
  • The pandan leaf I get here in the UK is from Thailand. It’s a bit longer than the Indonesian pandan leaf. So one piece of pandan leaf is sufficient for this recipe. You can cut them in an-inch long pieces. Use half of them for the sugar and the other half for the coconut milk.

Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 1 Amount Per Serving Calories 1012Total Fat 82gSaturated Fat 72gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 0mgSodium 189mgCarbohydrates 75gFiber 3gSugar 37gProtein 9g

The nutrition calculation you find here is just a guide provided by online nutrition calculator. You should not use to substitute advice from nutritionists or health practitioners.

Did you try the recipe?

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Related posts

Thank you for reading the recipe. I hope you’re now wanting to give it a try. If you do, let me know how you think about your Kolak Biji Salak in the comments below. I also appreciate if you could share and pin the post.

Before you go, don’t forget to check my other recipes that you may equally love.

Thank you and all the best.

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