If there's one thing that people don't talk enough about, it's traditional Malay desserts. From various colourful kuih to light bites like apam balik and even iced treats like cendol, there's a wealth of yummy Malay desserts out there which deserves more praise.
In this article, we'll be talking about a traditional Malay dessert that has been making waves in recent years - putu piring! That's because a shop in Singapore, Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring,
has been featured in Singapore's Michelin guide and just recently on Netflix's Street Food Asia. Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring has gained loyal fans, both locals and tourists, and this is apparent from the long queues at their stalls. If you haven't tasted this delicacy yet, then you'll definitely be enticed to try it once you've read this!
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What is putu piring?Credit: @shigehiro_ono on Instagram
For the uninitiated, putu piring refers to steamed rice flour cakes filled with gula Melaka (palm sugar) and topped with coconut shavings. How it's prepared is that rice flour and gula Melaka is put in a thin cloth and then steamed in round-shaped metal moulds for about 5 minutes before the putu piring is ready. The rice flour goes in first followed by gula Melaka and another layer of rice flour.
The dessert is commonly found not just in Singapore, but also in Malaysia, Indonesia and even Southern Thailand but with variations and even the name is different - it has also been called kueh tutu by the Chinese and kue putu by Indonesians. Some are even steamed in bamboo instead of metal moulds.
The experience at Traditional Haig Road Putu PiringCredit: @marian_bridson on Instagram
The Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring has earned its reputation for serving what is probably the best putu piring in Singapore. Though the business was only established in 1985, the roots of their shop date back to World War II and their putu piring is made using a traditional recipe that has been passed down for four generations. The owner, Mohamad Hashim, first learnt how to make this yummy delicacy from his grandmother and now the business is managed by his daughter, Aisha Hashim and her husband.
Entering the Haig Road Market and Food Centre, you can't help but be attracted to the fragrant smell of steamed rice flour, pandan leaves and caramelised sugar. Spotting Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring's shop is easy - there's a queue of customers, eagerly waiting for their turn to savour this flavourful treat.
Credit: @bellaella777 on Instagram
Walk nearer to the storefront and you'll see several stall vendors dressed in white intensely preparing the putu piring right in front of your very eyes. From putting the uncooked rice flour and gula Melaka into the metal mould to occasionally checking to see if the putu piring has been steamed completely and delicately transferring the fully steamed putu piring to a brown packet, there's a certain rhythm to it. The precise timing is almost like clockwork, and it’s really fascinating to watch ?
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When it's your turn to order, let the stall vendors know how many packets you want. Each packet has 5 pieces of putu piring and costs just $2.50 - that's pretty cheap by Singapore's standards! Then watch closely as the putu piring is generously topped with coconut shavings and pandan leaf. Once it's handed over to you, you can instantly feel the warmth of the packet of putu piring, which shows just how fresh it is ☺️
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Once you sink your teeth into the steaming hot piece of putu piring, the taste of gula Melaka just melts in your mouth and you can feel it oozing, instantly delighting your taste buds. Somehow, the highest grade of gula Melaka they use has just the right amount of sweetness and it's not too overwhelming. The steamed rice flour is soft and fluffy, and complements the gula Melaka perfectly. Not to mention that the coconut shavings add a savoury twist to the sweet treat. No one will blame you if you find that you can't stop eating it ?
Credit: Haig Road Putu Piring on Facebook
Besides the Haig Road outlet, the store has 4 other branches across Singapore and they have also expanded their menu to include more interesting flavours like durian, chocolate and coconut. But many of its ardent fans (including us!) still prefer the original gula Melaka putu piring. Whether you go traditional or you're up for something different, you know that the store lives up to its tagline - Love Till The Last Bite ? Trust us, it isn't just a simple dessert, it's a whole culinary experience and a must-try for every foodie!
14 Haig Rd, Singapore 430014 (original outlet)
10.45am – 10pm daily
Take the East-West Line to Paya Lebar MRT Station and walk about 11 minutes to Haig Road Putu Piring