Puding raja or royal pudding gained popularity when the current Agong took office at Istana Negara in 2019. Of course, it was the dessert that was served during his installation banquet that was attended by more than 700 guests and international dignitaries.
This sweet treat comes from the state of Pahang where it is originally served to the royal family at their palace in Pekan. The recipe was compiled by the queen herself in her book, Air Tangan Tengku Puan Pahang, which she had written as a tribute to the people of her state.
This dish is traditionally served during Malay weddings and festivals and in the month of Ramadan, but can also be found at some restaurants and food stalls. It is now available online any time of the year.
The main ingredient is a small, sweet local banana called pisang lemak manis, but you may substitute with pisang emas if unavailable. Unlike many other fried banana recipes where the fruits were sliced first, this calls for the bananas to be fried whole. Be careful when lifting the bananas out of the oil because they get extremely soft and mushy when it’s hot.
The most time-consuming component of this dish is the jala emas or golden threads. These are also available ready-made from many online vendors, but if you make them yourself, you can determine how sweet and which egg to make it with. It is recommended that you use the yolks of duck eggs but chicken egg yolks would work as well. The only difference is the richness in the flavour that you get from the duck egg yolks.
The other usual garnishes are prunes, crystallized cherries and cashew nuts. Dates can also be added for additional sweetness, as well as walnuts and almonds.
This dish is served with a custard sauce, and there are a few variations in the recipe for this component. Some cookbooks call for whole eggs and a bit of water, others just use egg yolks. Although most would simmer the sauce directly in the saucepan, I prefer to whisk it in a double-boiler to make sure I don’t get lumps. When it has thickened, it needs to be refrigerated for about 2 hours, with a lid on so that the surface doesn’t crust over. If it gets too stiff to pour after being chilled, just whisk in a tablespoon or two of cold water and it should flow when poured.
Serve the royal pudding cold with the sauce on the side, poured generously over the dessert just before serving. Here’s wishing our Agong a happy birthday, and everybody can enjoy the holiday with a dessert fit for a king.
- Jala Emas:
- 5 yolks from duck eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups cold water
- 1 pandan leaf
- Caramelised Bananas:
- 12 bananas, peeled
- 1 tbsp butter or ghee
- 2 cups cooking oil
- Custard Sauce:
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tin (390ml) evaporated milk
- 1 tsp custard powder
- 1 pandan leaf
- 100g prunes, seeded and halves
- 25g red glacé cherries, halved
- 25g green glacé cherries, halved
- 125g cashew nuts
- For the jala emas batter, whisk egg yolks until fluffy, then strain through a wire sieve.
- Fill batter into a squeeze bottle with a narrow nozzle and set aside, or if you are using a jala mould, fill only when needed.
- Fill a saucepan with water, sugar and pandan leaf and bring to a boil.
- Remove pandan leaf and bring down the heat to a slow simmer.
- Drizzle batter into the simmering syrup from a height to get fine strands, in a circling motion starting from the outer wall of the saucepan into the centre.
- Allow the strands to cook for about 30 seconds before lifting them out with a slotted ladle or chopsticks. Repeat four or five times with the remaining batter.
- For the caramelised bananas, heat cooking oil with the butter or ghee. When oil reaches frying temperature, add bananas in whole and fry on all sides until light golden.
- Drain excess oil on kitchen paper. In the remaining oil, fry the cashew nuts until light golden.
- For the custard sauce, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar and custard powder until combined. Strain through a wire sieve into a bain marie or double boiler, add pandan leaf and turn the heat on low.
- Continue whisking until the sauce starts to thicken on a low simmer, then turn off the heat.
- Strain cooked custard sauce through a wire sieve, cover with a lid and keep in a chiller until needed.
- To serve, arrange caramelised bananas on the bottom of the dish. Cover bananas with a layer of jala emas, then garnish with fruit and nuts. Finally serve with custard sauce on the side, or poured generously into the dish.