Kuih Harum Manis: A Sweet Delicate Traditional Favourite
You might have seen these at local bakeries or at roadside/hawker stalls next to other colourful kuihs - a little brown muffin capped with a sweet banana slice. Think of it as a more delicate, softer version of the classic banana cake! We love harum manis (directly translated to fragrant-sweet) because of its pillowy soft texture, caramel notes and lovely banana fragrance. It's deceptively easy to make too, but be sure to have the right ingredients on hand. pisang raja For starters, we recommend using pisang raja, a popular type of local banana instead of other kinds of bananas (i.e. pisang Tanduk, pisang Kepok etc) as it vastly improves the outcome of your kuih. You may have to visit your local wet market to get your hands on these. Pisang raja is widely considered the king of bananas for eating and cooking. It is about 10 to 15cm long, with thick skin and faceted shape. The flesh of pisang raja is truly unlike other bananas - it's deep yellow and almost orange, and the level of sweetness is much higher. Tip: Goreng pisang made with pisang raja also tastes much sweeter (a mellow kind of sweetness) than those made with other banana varieties. Back to harum manis! For the baking moulds, you can use smaller cupcake moulds or smaller muffin tin moulds. Traditionally, harum manis should be eaten in one bite and regular Western-sized moulds might be too large. The gula Melaka used in this recipe truly brings out the caramelized flavour - don't substitute it with brown sugar or anything else, it won't taste the same. This recipe yields about 56 little kuihs.


  300 g Gula melaka chopped into small pieces
  350 ml water
  1 pandan leaf
  50 g butter
  3 eggs
  200 g white sugar
  1 tbsp vanilla essence
  350 g plain flour
  ¼ tsp salt
  ½ tsp baking powder
  1 tsp baking soda
  9 pisang raja Slice it to about 1/2cm thickness



Combine gula melaka, water and pandan leaf in a medium pot. Boil over medium heat until the gula melaka dissolves and there are no lumps.


Strain the syrup mixture and add in butter. Stir until combined, set aside to cool.


Prepare your steamer and grease your moulds with oil or butter.


Combine plain flour, baking powder, baking soda and sat. Sift the mixture and set aside.


Beat eggs and sugar in your Kenwood mixer until light and fluffy.


Gently fold into your dry ingredients into the wet mixture.


Pour in the cooled gula melaka syrup a little at a time, stirring until well blended.


Pour batter into moulds until 3/4 full. Top with sliced bananas.


Steam for 15 to 20 minutes.


Leave to cool completely and remove the cakes from moulds.