This Kuih Seri Muka or Kuih Salat is completely vegan and gluten-free with a delicious compressed rice layer at the bottom and a sweet coconut custard at the top.
What is Kuih Seri Muka (Kuih Salat)
Kuih Seri Muka is a Malay word and translates to ‘Cake Pretty (Glowing) Face’. It’s a type of Nyonya dessert that is normally eaten as a snack and served with other types of beautiful and colorful kuihs.
My favorite kuih of all time is Kuih Talam followed by this Kuih Seri Muka. Its signature look is the smooth top layer made from coconut custard along with the slightly salty glutinous rice layer. Normally, the top layer is green from the pandan extract and the rice is just white. To make it prettier, many sellers added the butterfly pea flower extract to color the rice.
Traditionally, Kuih Seri Muka is not vegan nor gluten-free as the top layer is made from flour and eggs. I decided to make a vegan version and used pumpkin and rice flour after I saw a version of this during my last visit home. This recipe was inspired by MyKitchen101. I’ve simplified the steps so you can make this kuih easily in your own kitchen.
How to make Vegan Kuih Seri Muka
This kuih is not hard to make at all and the steps are separated into 2 parts.
Part 1 – Glutinous Rice (Bottom Layer)
Soak the glutinous rice overnight or at least 4 hours. Some brands may not need this pre-soak, so check the package instructions accordingly. Strain out the water and place rice on a large plate so you can spread the rice into a thin layer. A thin layer will reduce the cooking time and avoid the rice being too mushy.
In a cup, stir coconut milk, water, and salt until well-combined. I used an equal part of coconut milk (those in canned) and water in this recipe to create a less greasy and dense texture. I prefer my rice to be light and not too mushy. Pour the coconut mixture onto the rice and give it a quick stir, then add in some torn pandan leaves. Steam the rice over high heat for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the butterfly pea flower juice by boiling the flower and water until you get a dark blue juice. Strain out the juice, and set aside. (Tip: Use the remaining butterfly pea flower to make tea)
Once the rice is ready, remove it from the steamer and let it cool down. Fluff the rice with a fork or chopsticks. Then, drizzle some butterfly pea flower juice in batches. Let it sit for a while, and fluff the rice to combine. I like it this way to create patches of a white and blue hue in the rice. Transfer the rice to a greased 8″ cake pan and press to compress the rice. Set aside.
Part 2 – Prepare the Pumpkin Coconut Custard
I’m using pumpkin to create the coconut custard to give it a vibrant orange-yellowish layer. I find that Kabocha or Butternut squash works the best as they lend a perfect touch of sweetness to this layer.
This part may sound confusing but don’t worry, I’ll share what to look for or you can watch my video on how to prepare it. I’ve prepared the pumpkin while the rice is steaming.
Place cut Kabocha squash, sugar, pandan leaves, and water in a tall pot. Cook until the squash is fork-tender. Once ready, strain the squash into a bowl and blend until fine. The remaining water you get should be around 250ml (one cup). Measure it out if it’s too much or add more water if it’s too little.
Add the water back into the blended Kabocha, and gradually fold in the rice flours and tapioca starch until all incorporated. Then, add the same amount of coconut milk into the mixture. The batter should be thick.
To put the two layers together, strain the coconut custard onto the pressed rice. If your rice layer has cooled down, steam the rice again for 2 minutes to warm it up before you add this layer. Then, tap the pan on the counter a few times after filling it with batter to remove air bubbles. For tiny air bubbles, use the tip of the fork or knife to pop them instead.
Wrap your lid with a cloth to prevent water from dripping back to the top layer so you’ll get a smoother layer. If you are using a bamboo steamer, then, the chances of getting a smoother layer will be higher. Steam the kuih over medium heat for 25-30 minutes. Let the kuih come to a complete cool before cutting it. Serve at room temperature. Note: the custard layer color will turn darker once it’s cooled.
Vegan Kuih Seri Muka FAQ
- How to avoid the mushy rice layer? I used a large plate and added just enough liquid to coat the rice before steaming it. A large surface will have an even and faster cooking time. If you use a small plate, the rice at the bottom will soak up the liquid making that part mushy. Also, when you compress the rice, press it lightly but tightly to create an even surface. Feel free to use a fondant smoother in this step.
- My custard layer has puffed up areas after steaming – This happened to me when I forgot to tap the pan to remove the air bubbles before steaming. Also, be sure the batter is mixed until well-combined and strain to get a fine batter.
- The layers separated after steaming – To avoid this, the rice layer needs to be warm so the top layer will stick when you add the top layer in. If your rice layer has cooled off, simply steam it again to warm it up.
Vegan Kuih Seri Muka Tips
- How to easily unmould the kuih – You’ll need to grease the pan or line your pan with banana leaf. Let the kuih cool down completely. To speed up the process, feel free to immerse the pan in a bucket of cold water.
- How to cut the kuih – Use a plastic or silicone knife for ease of cutting.
- Top layers variations – Try purple, orange, or taro as an option.
- For a softer top layer, adjust the liquid amount which is more liquid for a soft layer.
- I used Thai rice flour and tapioca starch to create a gluten-free version since traditionally, the top layer is made from flour, starch, and egg.
- Storage Tips – It’s best to consume this kuih the same day you made it. If you can’t finish it, store it in an airtight container and reheat it using a microwave or steamer the next day. To reheat using a microwave, wet a paper towel to cover the kuih and heat for about 30 seconds.
Check out my other Malaysian cuisines
This Vegan Kuih Seri Muka is
- Deliciously Sweet
- Easily customizable
- Perfect as snack or appetizer
- Oh so Tasty!!
If you try this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback and see your beautiful re-creation. Leave me a comment, rate it, and tag @woon.heng and #woonheng to your photos on Instagram or Facebook. Happy cooking, friends!
Vegan Kuih Seri Muka – 南瓜香兰糯米糕
- Cake Pan
Bottom Layer (Glutinous Rice)
- 300 g glutinous rice soaked overnight or about 4 hours
- 100 ml [~½cup] coconut milk*
- 100 ml [~½cup] water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- pandan leaves
Butterfly Pea Flower Juice
- 25 dried Butterfly pea flower
- 4 tablespoons of water
Top Layer (Pumpkin Coconut)
- 230 g Kabocha squash cubes
- 100 g rice flour sifted
- 30 g tapioca starch sifted
- 8 palm sugar rounds about 120g adjust to taste if using cane sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups [350ml] of water
- 1 cup [250ml] coconut milk*
- pandan leaves
How to cook the Glutinous Rice
- To make the rice layer, mix together coconut milk, water, and salt in a cup until well-combined.
- Drain out the water from the soaked glutinous rice and place them on a shallow plate.
- Tear a few pieces of pandan leaves and add them to the rice. Then, mix the rice with the coconut milk mixture until all incorporated.
- Steam the rice for 25 minutes over high heat.
Prepare Butterfly Pea Flower Juice
- Meanwhile, place the butterfly pea flower and water in a small pot. (quick tip: try to immerse the flowers in the water using a fork).
- Turn on the heat, and once the water starts to boil, turn down the heat and keep stirring to draw out the color. Once the water turns darker blue, turn off the heat and let it cool.
- Strain the flower on a fine sieve and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Set aside. Reserve the butterfly pea flowers to make tea.
Prepare the Kabocha Squash
- Prepare the Kabocha – place Kabocha cubes in a tall pot along with water, pandan leaves, and sugar. Bring it to boil and cook until Kabocha is fork-tender. Once it’s ready, remove the pandan leaves and strain out the sugar water into a bowl.
- Blend the Kabocha into a fine paste. Measure the sugar water, you should have about 200ml remaining.
How to Prepare the Bottom Layer
- Once the rice is ready, remove it from the steamer let it cool slightly.
- Discard the pandan leaves and fluff the rice with a pair of chopsticks or a fork.
- Then, dab a few spoons of butterfly pea flower juice on the rice, mix to combine (Note: use the remaining juice to make tea).
- Transfer the rice to a greased 8" tall cake pan and press the rice with a fondant smoother or back of a spatula to compress it.
How to put everything together
- To prepare the top (custard) layer, add the sugar water back into the blended Kabocha, then fold in the flour and starch until well-combined.
- Finally, stir in the coconut milk to create a thick batter.
- Strain the custard onto the compressed rice.
- Tap the pan a few times on the countertop to remove air bubbles.
- Steam the mixture over medium heat for 25-30 minutes until the top layer is fully cooked through. [Please check my tips above to create a successful Kuih Seri Muka.]
- Let the kuih cool down completely before unmoulding it. Cut into your desired shapes and serve at room temperature with a cup of tea or coffee. Enjoy!
- Cooking Time is about 60 minutes as I’ve combined the steps. You can make butterfly pea flower juice and cook the Kabocha squash while the rice is in the steamer.
- *Please use canned coconut milk
- Adjust the amount of sugar if using cane sugar. Palm sugar or coconut sugar is generally less sweet compared to regular sugar.