Recipe: Coconut Sugar Nian Gao

New year, new recipes from Margarita! Here’s another recipe from her to try at home, a sweet snack sure to satisfy those cravings.

Coconut Sugar Nian Gao

By Margarita Lee

Margarita Lee


  • 600g Glutinous rice flour
  • 650ml Water
  • 500g Coconut sugar or Thai palm sugar 
  • 2 pcs Pandan leaves (tied into knots)
  • 3 Long sheets of banana leaves 
  • 4 9cm diameter tin moulds 


Photo by Margarita Lee


  1. Soften the banana leaves in a pot of boiling water, then clean and wipe them dry. Ensuring that the smoother surface faces upwards, line the moulds with the leaves in a star formation. Repeat this 3 times to avoid leakage. Cut a round piece to line as the base.
  2. Dissolve coconut sugar with water, add in pandan leaves, and bring to a boil. Remove leaves before setting aside to cool.
  3. Mix the glutinous rice flour with the prepared sugar syrup gradually until well combined. Allow mixture to sit for 15 minutes. 
  4. Sieve the mixture and pour carefully into the moulds. Cover the moulds with aluminium foil. 
  5. Steam for 5 hours. Add hot water into the steamer midway to avoid having the water dry up throughout the cooking process. 
  6. Allow the steamed glutinous rice cake (Nian Gao) to sit for 2-3 days before consuming.



  • The Nian Gao will still appear soft. Skewer it to test its readiness. If the skewer comes out clean, it is ready .
  • Cool the Nian Gao in the mould for a minimum of 24 hours.
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week or in the fridge for up to 6 months.


Check out more of Margarita’s recipes on her FB @ Umummy Food


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See Foon

SeeFoon Chan-Koppen has been writing a food column called Musings on Food in the Ipoh Echo since 2009. It is widely read both in print as well as online which receives more than 1 million hits a month. Her forte is in communications, having honed her skills after graduating from the University of Singapore where she worked for the Straits Times Group and was a food critic for the New Nation. Her knowledge of food and cooking come from more than 30 years in the hotel industry based in Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong and subsequently Kuala Lumpur. During this time, she has travelled all over the world and eaten at the best and worst restaurants. She is totally intimate with the subtleties and nuances of most cuisines of the world having been involved in opening over 50 hotels throughout the Asia/Pacific region and China where she helped to conceptualize Food and Beverage themes and critiqued on food quality. SeeFoon calls herself a global citizen and now chooses the serenity and friendliness of Ipoh to the bright lights of the many cities she has lived in. She also loves the food in Ipoh and is passionate about telling the world about it.

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