Kolak pisang is an Indonesian dessert made from coconut milk and bananas (or plantains). Natural sweetener, the only one not produced in factories, that is used in almost all traditional dessert and snacks, gula merah (gula melaka in Malay, also known as palm sugar). Aside from those three main ingredients, there are many others can be used. Roots that are used are cassava and sweet potatoes. Chopped fruit most commonly included are jackfruit and palm seeds.
This dessert is very popular, and can be easily found on most restaurants and street side around the country. Because of the simplicity, they are always cooked in households too. The kolak is always a one-day dessert. It can’t keep longer than that, even refrigerated. The main reason is that the coconut milk syrup is never boiled. It is simply heated up to combine with the rest of the ingredients. The second reason might be that they never last long. At least at our house.
The coconut milk used is always squeezed from freshly grated coconut. They are sold by truckloads, in traditional wet markets, already packaged in plastic bags. They need to be strained before using, because there are always some coconut meat or traces of husks in them. Instant coconut milk powder (prepared as directed) or boxed coconut milk is okay!
Prepare a big stock pot enough to hold all the liquid. Dilute a part of coconut milk with water and heat it up over medium heat.
Toss in screwpine leaves or pandan leaves for extra vanilla flavor. Yeah, you heard me right. I honestly think that it has a very mild and natural vanilla taste.
When the water is lightly steaming, add sweet potatoes and palm sugar.
In the meanwhile, prepare the cassava. Peel and steam till soft enough for a fork to pierce through and through. Cut them into smaller pieces.
Toss in bananas pieces when sweet potatoes are half-way cooked.
Add the cassavas.
Cook till it slightly boil and lower heat.
Pour the rest of the coconut milk to the pot. This is the part when you need to be very careful. Continuous stirring over low heat is the only tips I can offer.
Stir some more.
This is what it looks like when it is all cooked. All the ingredients are very soft, but not yet falling apart.
Toss in some palm seeds, if using. Remove from heat and serve warm.
Honestly, I can only eat this dessert cold. Any dessert, in that matter. So I would often wait till it cools down and refrigerate for a couple of hours. If I am being a pain and impatient, I drop a couple of ice cubes into my bowl. This would cause the coconut milk to solidify and “flakes” would appear on top layer. I don’t mind at all.
Refrigerate and reheat as you wish. Consumed within 24 hours.
Indonesian Banana Compote with Coconut Milk, Kolak Pisang
2 screwpine leaves (daun pandan), optional
2 ltr water, diluted with 25 g coconut milk
250 g coconut milk
250 g palm sugar (gula merah or gula melaka)
1/2 tsp salt
1 kg cassava, peeled and steamed
1 kg sweet potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
8 plantains, cut into 2cm thickness
100 g atap seeds
In a large stock pot, cook the water and coconut milk over medium heat. When the water is slightly heated, toss in sweet potatoes and palm sugar.
Lower heat and continue cooking. It is okay for the water to be slightly simmering. If it starts to boil, lower heat. Maintain the heat to just cooking the sweet potatoes by hot water, not boiling water. Do this for as long as 30 minutes.
Add steamed cassava and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the rest of coconut milk. Keep cooking over low heat. Keep stirring for 10-15 minutes. Don't stop stirring as the coconut milk will boil, and coconut oil will separate from the milk. This will ruin the dessert.
Toss in cut fruits and remove from heat.
Serve warm or cold.
This post is a revision of my previous recipe Stewed Banana Compote with Coconut Milk.