It took me two attempts to get this recipe right. The first attempt tasted right, but the green pandan custard was too firm. And, to be honest with you, due to rushed cooking and therefore cracking, it looked pretty darn fugly: not something you want when the literal translation of 'kuih seri muka' is 'beautiful face cake' in Malay. Thankfully I nailed it second time round.
This kuih is essentially a sliceable coconut sticky rice pudding with custard. The glutinous rice is very slightly salted and cooked in rich, thick coconut milk until tender, and half of it is naturally dyed with homemade blue pea flower water. Blue pea flowers can be a little tricky to find in the UK, but luckily we have this brand of tea, which is literally just the dried flower in teabags:
Yes, the colour is completely natural. Of course you can use blue food colouring instead, but blue pea flowers are more authentic and traditional.
The top layer is basically a sweet coconut custard, thickened with tapioca and cornflour starch and flavoured with green pandan paste. Be sure to steam it on a low-to-medium heat: if your'e impatient and crank the heat up, the custard will boil and the surface will crack (I found this out the hard way).
You don't have to, but you can slice the sides of the cooked block of kuih before slicing it up into portions for neater servings. I totally advocate this: it means you get to eat the scraps.
Ready? Let's go.
Ingredients for Rice Layer(s):
400g glutinous rice, rinsed well 3 times and drained
200ml thick coconut milk
1 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 pandan leaf
100ml blue pea flower tea (brewed until super-dark)
Ingredients for Custard Layer:
3 large eggs, beaten
200ml thick coconut milk
200ml evaporated milk
150g caster sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
1/2 tbsp tapioca flour
1 tsp pandan paste
1) Grease and line an 8" square baking pan with foil (I do it in a way that makes lifting the kuih out of the pan easier).
2) Cook all of the rice layer ingredients apart from the blue tea in a rice cooker until done (about 30 minutes), switch the cooker off and let sit for five minutes.
3) Pack half of the rice flat into the bottom of your prepared tin, thoroughly stir the blue tea into the remaining rice until a uniform colour and pack this on top of the white layer.
4) Now prepare your custard: whisk all of the ingredients together until smooth, pass through a sieve to get rid of any little lumps, and cook in a saucepan over a very low heat, stirring continuously until it begins to thicken to a custard-y consistency (not too thick though: you still want it to be pourable).
5) Pour over the top of your rice, and cook in a steamer for about 45 minutes on a low to medium heat, until completely set.
6) Leave to cool completely, and pop in the fridge for at least four hours to chill. Now slice, serve and enjoy with a cup of tea.