How to Make Bananas in Sweetened Coconut Milk (Pengat Pisang)
Last week, I bought a bunch of bananas from an Asian market, and soon I began craving pengat pisang, or bananas in sweetened coconut milk.
In Malaysia, the best type of banana to use for this dessert is the pengat nangka, or jackfruit banana. It gets its name from the fact that when it is cooked, it smells similar to a jackfruit.
I learned this recipe from my mother. When she prepared this dish, she used pisang nangka, but since I couldn't find this type I used pisang awak.
Bananas can be cooked in many different ways, particularly so in Southeast Asian countries. Why? We have many different types of bananas, including pisang awak (Ducasse), pisang raja (king banana), and pisang tanduk (horn banana). When I was a kid, I remember seeing my mother made kek pisang (banana cake), lepek pisang (banana pancakes), cekodok pisang (banana dumplings), and goreng pisang (banana fritters). These are all sweet desserts that are made from the same type of banana: the pisang awak. I guess that's why this type of banana is my favorite.
Before making this recipe, I encourage you to try to use authentic ingredients. For example, instead of using canned coconut milk, use real coconut milk. You can buy shredded coconut at an Asian market (look in the freezer section). Another ingredient that you will need is gula melaka, or palm sugar. I love palm sugar. It is made from the sap of the flower buds from the coconut tree. I was so happy when I saw gula melaka at the Asian shop because a lot of traditional Malay desserts call for this ingredient.
Let me show you how to make pengat pisang:
- 10 bananas (preferred with yellow skin)
- 1/2 cup palm sugar, chopped
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 2-3 tablespoons white granulated sugar
- 2 pandan leaves, washed and tied a knot
- Cut the bananas into cubes or any desired shape. Remove the skin.
- In a pan, combine the bananas, chopped palm sugar, white sugar, pandan leaves, and coconut milk. Gently stir all ingredients using a spatula.
- Transfer the pan on a stove over medium heat. Bring it to boil.
- Continue stirring so the sugar dissolves evenly.
- Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Pengat pisang is cooked as the coconut milk thickens.
- Remove the pandan leaves.
- Serve it hot or cold.
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