Photo courtesy of my cousin Gunn Kean Keat
Pungat or Pengat is how we call this Nyonya dessert in Penang. It is usually eaten on the final day of Chinese New Year – Chap Goh Meh. This dish is known as Pungat or Pengat by Baba Nyonya families.
Pungat is a very tasty, rich, sweet dessert and is colourful. This dessert is made with sweetened coconut milk with gula melaka, accompanied with banana (pisang raja to be precise), sweet potatoes, as well as yellow, purple and orange potatoes and taro.
For my family, Pungat is actually a peranakan festive dish. It is not served on any other day except on the 15th day of Chinese New Year – Chap Goh Meh. A lot of care is taken when cutting the root ingredients. The Nyonyas are particular, as all potatoes and taro (yam) have to be cut into precise sizes and shapes and be accompanied by the banana. The sauce is made from gula melaka and thick coconut milk.
Difference between Pengat and Bubur Cha Cha
To my understanding, Bubur Cha Cha evolved from Pengat/pungat. It has now become an everyday version of Pungat that everyone can enjoy.
The difference between the two desserts is the potatoes can be cut into any shapes and sizes and do not have to be as precise as for pengat. The expensive pisang raja is left out of this dish, and other ingredients such as starched jelly, black-eyed beans and sago are introduced. Also the sauce is now substituted with sugar rather than gula melaka, thus resulting in thinner sauce.
So from my understanding, the differences between bubur cha cha and pungat/pengat are:
- Shapes / sizes of the root ingredients can vary
- Thinner sauce because sugar is used rather than gula melaka
- The expensive pisang raja / banana is not part of the recipe
- Introducing starched jelly, blacked eye beans and sago.
Here is a quick and simple recipe for Pungat/Pengat – from my childhood days
- 200g Sweet potato
- 200g Purple potato
- 200g Golden potato
- 200g Yam (I use the frozen yam instead)
- 2-3 Bananas (steam or boil)
- 400ml coconut cream
- 3 pandan leaves / 1-2 tbsp of pandan powder
- 250ml water
- Sugar or gula melaka to taste
- Pinch of salt
(1) Peel the skins and cut the potatoes and yam into 2cm cubes – My preferred size. You can cut into longer lengths.
Note: the shapes are to be as similar in size as possible.
(2) Steam for 5-8minutes or until softened.
(3) For the sauce, boil the coconut milk and water together with pandan leaves or pandan powder, on medium/low heat for 5-10 minutes or until the sauce is gently boiled. * Note, do not allow it to boil vigorously as the coconut milk may curdle.
(4) Prepare gula melaka separately. Please see preparation instructions and add to pengat dish separately.
Serve: Place all the steamed potatoes and banana in a bowl and pour the sauce into the bowl. Pengat can be served hot or cold.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serving: 2-6 people
- I do not recommend adding ice to this dish as it may dilute the sauce. It is meant to be thick and nice.
- When preparing the sauce, don’t over boil/boil vigorously to avoid the coconut milk from curdling.
Here is a video presentation explaining the difference between pengat and bubur cha cha by the State Chinese (Penang) Association
You can order your gula melaka and pandan powder from Nyonyalicious Store:
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