Here’s a delicacy I have been dying to make for the longest time. It’s called pulut tai tai, and it is one of the prettiest looking nyonya kueh you’ll ever see. It’s one of my husband’s favorites too! Made from glutinous rice, pulut tai tai has a gorgeous blue and white marbled effect that’s very eye-catching. The blue coloring is not obtained from regular food coloring, by the way. It’s obtained from the butterfly pea flower (clitoria ternatea), so you can quell all worries about ingesting artificial food coloring, because this is as natural as it gets! 🙂
There are many methods to achieve the marbled blue and white effect, and some even just do away with the effect and make a dish entirely of blue glutinous rice. It doesn’t affect the taste of the pulut tai tai of course. I chose what I felt is the simplest way to get this marble effect.
My maiden attempt making this traditional delicacy was made all the more sweeter because I used two ingredients from my young (edible) garden: Screwpine leaves (or pandan leaves) and butterfly pea flowers. 🙂
I had been harvesting and saving the butterfly pea flowers (some call it blue pea flowers or bunga telang) for a couple of weeks now. You will need about 20-25 flowers to attain the desired blue coloring. To store the butterfly pea flowers, I pluck them and wash them clean. Then I place them on a plate lined with cling wrap and leave it in the freezer. Once the flowers are frozen, I store them in a container in the freezer. They keep quite long this way, and I will have a ready supply of the butterfly pea flowers as and when I need them.
Making pulut tai tai is actually rather easy, but involves a few steps that can be done in separate sessions. For a first-time effort, I was actually pleased with the results, as were “my beloved testers”. 🙂
Pulut tai tai is always served and eaten with kaya, which is coconut egg jam, and since I had also just whipped up a jar of homemade kaya, it was a match made in heaven!
Look how pretty it is!
Pulut Tai Tai
- 1½ cups (approx.) glutinous rice (in Malaysia, you will see it sometimes labeled as beras pulut)
- water for soaking
- 250ml coconut milk (I used it straight out of the box)
- 4-5 screwpine (pandan) leaves
- 1 tsp salt
- 20-25 frozen or dried butterfly pea flowers
- Kaya (coconut egg jam) – for serving (Here’s the recipe for my 10-minute homemade version)
- Wash the glutinous rice thoroughly and soak in water for at least 4 hours.
- After soaking, drain away the water and pour rice into a steaming container.
- Add about ¾ of the coconut milk, all the screwpine leaves and salt, and steam over medium heat for about 20 minutes.
- While the glutinous rice is steaming, make the blue coloring. In a small saucepan, place the butterfly pea flowers and add about ¼ cup water. Bring to boil. You will see the blue coloring being extracted.
- After 20 minutes or so of steaming, remove the container of glutinous rice from the steamer, and remove the screwpine leaves.
- Fluff the rice with a fork or a pair of chopsticks, then pour in the rest of the coconut milk.
- Discard the butterfly pea flowers from the blue colored liquid, and sprinkle the blue colored liquid all over the glutinous rice mixture.
- Mix it again to ensure even distribution, and return to steamer.
- Steam for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until rice is soft and done.
- Pour the hot rice into a separate moulding container if necessary, then using a spoon, lightly press the rice into the container. This is to make it easier to cut out the pulut tai tai pieces when serving.
- Leave it to cool and set completely.
- When cool, slice and serve with your favorite kaya.