Traditional Malay Lepat Labu Recipe (Pumpkin Snack)
What Is Lepat Labu?
Lepat labu, consisting of steamed pumpkin and grated coconut in banana leaves, is one of my favorite traditional Malay kuih (snacks). I remember growing up eating this delicious snack with my family—we would have it in the morning for breakfast or in the afternoon as a snack. My mother made the best lepat labu I ever have tasted. When I go back to my hometown today, I never miss the opportunity to ask my mother to make this snack for me.
Since I now live in the United States and don't often have the chance to enjoy my mother's lepat labu, I decided I should try making it on my own.
How Do You Make It?
Like many other traditional Malay snacks, lepat labu is a bit tedious to make, but it's so worth it. Subtly sweet from the ripened pumpkin, it gets its signature aroma from the freshly grated coconut filling and the banana leaf wrapper. I enjoy using banana leaves in cooking, especially when I'm making traditional Malay cuisine. It reminds me of my childhood, when I would help my mother in the kitchen.
The best thing about lepat labu is that it doesn't require too many ingredients. All you need is a small or medium-sized pumpkin, sugar, all-purpose flour, salt, freshly grated coconut, and some banana leaves (cut into square shapes). I would encourage you to prepare the coconut filling and the banana leaves before mixing the other ingredients. This snack is suitable for vegetarians and vegan, as well.
- 1 small or medium-sized pumpkin, cut into cubes or chunks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup fresh grated coconut
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Water for boiling
- 9 to 10 fresh banana leaves, cut into squares
- Make the coconut filling: In a small bowl, combine the grated coconut and salt. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
- Make the pumpkin mixture: Peel the pumpkin skin; then wash and cut the pumpkin into small cubes or chunks. Boil the pumpkin in water for 20-25 minutes or more. Drain the hot water and transfer the boiled pumpkin into a mixing bowl. Mash the pumpkin using a masher until it is smooth. Add the sugar into the mashed pumpkin and stir until combined. Add the flour into the mixture and stir with a spatula until well-combined. The dough should be a little sticky.
- Wrap the lepat labu: Take a piece of banana leaf and lay it flat on a counter. Place 2 tablespoons of pumpkin mixture in the middle and flatten it using the back of the spoon.
- Place 2 teaspoons of the coconut filling and put it on top of the pumpkin mixture.
- Use both hands, tightly roll the banana leaf right from the bottom.
- Flatten both edges and secure them by folding them to the middle (refer to the photo below).
- Repeat this process until all of the leaves are wrapped.
- Transfer the lepat labu into a food steamer.
- The cooking time may vary, but it should be between 10-12 minutes.
- Enjoy this snack with a cup of coffee or tea.
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