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Recipe Description

Badak berendam is a dessert from the east coast of Malaysia, specifically in the northern states of Kelantan and Terengganu. Its name is directly translated as submerged hippopotamus and alludes to how the balls of dough in a bath of coconut gravy resemble the floating animal. They are similar to another Malay kuih, the kuih kochi, which is glutinous rice dough filled with grated coconut with palm sugar. The only difference is that kuih kochi is wrapped in banana leaf while badak berendam sits in coconut gravy.

The balls are usually green from being made with pandan juice and the gravy is white from the santan. However, modern interpretations often present this dish as multicoloured balls and sometimes with a green gravy coloured and flavoured with pandan juice.

I’ve decided to use this dish for the Merdeka celebration, colouring the balls with natural dyes of red, blue and yellow including the undyed white dough to represent the colours of the Jalur Gemilang. Because we’re not using green pandan juice for the dough but still want to infuse it with pandan flavour, you can boil the pandan leaves until the fragrance emerges.

Then using this aromatised water, kneaded the dough. Be aware that using a hot liquid with glutinous rice flour will result in a very sticky dough, so additional flour is needed when kneading. Dust the work surface as well as both hands to ensure that nothing sticks, and continually scrape the work surface to lift the dough off. Don’t be afraid to use additional flour while shaping and rolling the balls, especially when introducing additional liquid from the pumpkin pulp, dragon fruit juice and butterfly flower tea.

When I was able to grow butterfly peas in my garden, I used to blend freshly harvested flowers to use for the dough. But now that I had to use dried flowers, the dough doesn’t seem to have the colour intensity that I desire. However, despite the weaker blue, you can plunge the cooked balls into the remaining cold blue tea to intensify the colour.

To keep the pandan flavour in the dish, I’ve made the gravy green with pandan juice. You may roll the balls in the gravy but I prefer to float them so that you can show off the colours of the Malaysian flag in the dish.

Recipe Ingredient

  • White Dough:
  • 225g glutinous rice flour + additional for kneading
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 5 pandan leaves, knotted
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Red Dough:
  • ¼ portion white dough
  • 1-2 tbsp dragon fruit juice
  • Blue Dough:
  • ¼ portion white dough
  • 1-2 tbsp blue tea (5g butterfly pea flower + 1 cup hot water)
  • Yellow Dough:
  • ¼ portion white dough
  • 1-2 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • Filling:
  • 160g grated coconut
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 100g gula melaka
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 pandan leaf, knotted
  • Coconut Gravy:
  • 3 tbsp rice flour
  • ½ cup pandan juice
  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • banana leaf squares


  1. Boil water with pandan leaves and salt until fragrant, then remove pandan leaves and turn off the heat. Add glutinous rice flour and stir until it becomes a soft dough. Transfer to a well-floured surface and knead until smooth, then divide into four portions.
  2. For the red dough, extract juice from a dragon fruit and knead into one portion of the white dough until smooth, adding more glutinous rice flour to prevent sticking.
  3. For the blue dough, knead one portion of the white dough with blue tea until smooth, adding more glutinous rice flour to prevent sticking.
  4. For the yellow dough, steam pumpkin and blend into a puree, then knead into one portion of the white dough until smooth, adding more glutinous rice flour to prevent sticking.
  5. Knead the remaining white dough until smooth, adding more glutinous rice flour to prevent sticking. Keep all dough portions covered until ready to assemble.
  6. For the filling, heat together coconut, gula melaka and granulated sugar with pandan leaves in a frying pan. When it gets dry, remove pandan leaves, sprinkle with flour and continue stirring until it is cooked and sticky. Allow to cool completely, then roll into thumb-sized balls and set aside.
  7. For the coconut gravy, wilt pieces of banana leaf over a flame and shape into a boat. Mix rice flour with pandan juice into a smooth batter, then stir in coconut milk and salt. Cook over low heat until it comes to a boil, stirring continuously so it doesn't lump. Ladle coconut gravy into banana leaf boats.
  8. To assemble, roll the dough into thumb-sized balls and press it into a cup shape. Fill with balls of coconut filling, seal and roll into neat balls.
  9. Bring water to a rolling boil and toss in the balls to cook until they rise to the surface. Remove balls from the pot and immediately plunge them into cold water to stop the cooking. For the blue balls, plunge them into cold blue tea to deepen the colour.
  10. To serve, drain excess water and float the balls over the coconut gravy in the banana leaf boats.

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