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Kuih Seri Muka Recipe (Malay Steamed Glutinous Rice With Palm Sugar Custard)

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My husband and I love exploring new places. Currently, we reside in Utah. Someday, we would like to travel all across the United States.

Serve kuih seri muka with a cup of coffee or tea.

Serve kuih seri muka with a cup of coffee or tea.

What Is Kuih Seri Muka?

Kuih seri muka is a traditional Malay dessert that is made from steamed white glutinous rice with coconut milk and topped with dark palm sugar custard.

Ever since I was a child, I loved eating traditional Malay cakes—especially those made by my mother. Therefore, whilst visiting home recently, the first thing I wanted to learn from my mother was how to make one of my all-time favorites: kuih seri muka.

In my family, we usually ate kuih seri muka with warm black coffee in the morning for breakfast. However, many people choose to serve this cake as a dessert.

Simple Ingredients

In my experience, traditional Malay recipes are often quite intricate and require many ingredients. However, I am pleased to say that kuih seri muka is one of the easiest Malay desserts to make as it requires fewer ingredients. The main ingredients in this recipe are glutinous rice, coconut milk, and dark palm sugar. You also need a little bit of all-purpose flour and granulated sugar for the custard.

My Mother's Signature Dessert

This delicate recipe was my mother's. I'm proud to say that it is one her signature dishes, as she often makes it when we all gather at my parents' house. Now, I can share what I've learned with others, some of whom may never have heard of this delicious cake before. I hope you will try this recipe and love it as much as we do!

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For the bottom layer:

  • 1 cup glutinous rice, washed and strained
  • 1 cup diluted coconut milk

For the top layer (custard):

  • 1 tube dark palm sugar, chopped into small chunks
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar (or more, to taste)
  • 5-6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Note: Some might use an egg for making the custard, I decided to omit the egg to maintain my mother's authentic recipe.


  1. Prepare a round pan with baking paper or BPA-free plastic.
  2. For the bottom layer of the kuih seri muka: Evenly spread the glutinous rice in the pan. Pour the diluted coconut milk on top of the glutinous rice. Put the pan into a steamer and steam for about 20 minutes on medium-high heat.
  3. In the meantime, prepare the topping (custard): In a small pan combine the dark palm sugar with water. Cook on medium heat until it forms a smooth mixture.
  4. In a bowl, combine the dark palm sugar mixture with coconut milk, white sugar, and all-purpose flour. Stir until smooth.
  5. Pour the mixture into another bowl. Use a strainer to sieve the liquids. Set aside.
  6. After 20 minutes, take out the glutinous rice mixture, stir, and flatten it with a spoon or your hands. Make sure it is compact (see the photo below).
  7. Gently, pour the dark palm sugar mixture on top of the rice mixture. Steam on medium-high heat for 20-30 minutes.
  8. Take the pan out from the steamer and transfer the cake onto a wire rack. Let it cool completely before slicing.
  9. After cooling, slice the cake with a knife into diamond-shaped or rectangle-shaped pieces. Transfer the cake to a serving plate.
  10. Serve immediately with coffee or tea.

© 2021 Liza

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