Pulut Inti

The other day, I was struck by this need to have pulut inti.

Pulut inti is a traditional Malaysian dessert of steamed glutinous rice with a sweet coconut topping, usually wrapped in a banana leaf. It’s like a small packet of delicious sticky goodness 🙂

Growing up in Malaysia, I remember my local kuih-muih (dessert) lady with her array of kuih-muih in front of the grocery store. She had pulut inti, colourful agar-agar, kuih lapis, kuih gulung, and the list goes on. The whole point of kuih-muih is that they are bite-sized. I find glutinuous rice, pandan, coconut and agar-agar feature very heavily in these desserts. I really enjoy eating these little morsels of deliciousness, as they are not overwhelmingly rich, or sickeningly sweet. There’s a delicate balance of flavours going on there, where savoury meets sweet.

This is a typical kuih-muih lady’s set-up

As I cannot get pulut inti here in Canberra, I decided to make my own. It wasn’t hard, but I did need to invest in some tools like a coconut scraper ($17), which you can get from a well-stocked Indian grocery store. I also used a chinese steamer basket and banana leave (frozen or fresh), you can get these from an Asian grocery store. The one thing I was not successful in obtaining was the pandan leaves. I still went ahead and made the pulut inti without it, it was tasty, but I think it does need the pandan leaves. So if you can find them (from Asian/Indian grocery store), definitely use them.


Serves: 8 people

Prep-time: 4 hours for soaking + 30 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes


1 cup glutinous rice (220g)

½ tsp salt

7/8 cup coconut milk (210ml)

1 pandan leaf (cut into 5-inch lengths)

1 large banana leaf to line steaming rack

8 pieces banana leaves (7-inch x 6-inch, thoroughly washed, wiped dry, and cut down to size before use)

Sweet Coconut Topping

¼ cup water (60ml)

¼ cup gula melaka / palm sugar (50g)

1 pandan leaf (cut into 5-inch lengths)

1 cup grated coconut (white part only) (100g)

1 tbsp butter (14g)

1 tsp corn starch mixed with 2 tbsp water


Coconut scraper

Steamer basket


  1. Wash and drain glutinous rice 4 to 5 times until water runs clear. Cover glutinous rice with water and allow it to soak overnight or at least 4 hours.
  2. Line a steaming rack with banana leaf. Make sure it is large enough to cover the base and also slightly up the sides of rack. Place pandan leaves on top.
  3. Drain glutinous rice. Mix in salt and transfer to steaming rack. Pour ¾ cup coconut milk onto rice. Cover and steam over medium heat for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove lid and fluff glutinous rice with fork. Sprinkle the 2 remaining tablespoons of coconut milk onto rice. Cover and steam for another 5 minutes.
  5. Sweet Coconut Topping: Combine water, gula melaka, and pandan leaf in a small pan over medium heat. When gula melaka has melted, add grated coconut and butter. Cook for about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in cornstarch mixture and cook for another minute. Remove pandan leaf and allow it to cool.
  6. Putting it together:
    • When glutinous rice is cool enough to handle, pile about a quarter cup cooked rice onto a piece of prepared banana leaf. Top with a tablespoon of sweet coconut topping.
    • Bring the long edges of banana leaf to meet in the center with one edge overlapping slightly on one end. Criss-cross the flaps in the center by placing bottom flap on the top on the opposite end. Fold both ends under to form a pyramid shape package.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature.

2 thoughts on “Pulut Inti

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