Sweet Potato Glutinous Rice Balls with Coconut Sugar

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I have not celebrated Chinese New Year (CNY) for many many years. “Celebrating” in my family meant receiving red envelopes and gorging on good, homemade, traditional Chinese food.

It’s been twenty years since I celebrated Chinese New Year with my folks! They do still go about the tradition with my siblings, but living 5,000+ miles away doesn’t make it easy to rush over for dinner.

This year, I wanted to eat something “special” for CNY. Funnily enough, this was the only thing I had were these. Not really traditional CNY food for my family, but hey, they are round.. and it’s the thought that counts.

These delicious morsels are very similar to onde onde, the Malaysian/Indonesian treat, but instead of palm sugar, I used coconut sugar. I did have palm sugar patties on hand, but they’d been sitting in my cupboard for so long that they’d turned into rocks.

On biting into these mini pillows of joy, you are greeted with a soft, but slightly chewy sweet potato exterior and an explosion of molten coconut sugar. Perfect! I popped one after another in mouth without stopping for air. I was kind enough to let A have one or two though. Don’t say I never share.


makes 12

adapted from christine’s recipes: sweet potato glutinous rice balls


  • 200 g (7 oz) sweet potato (garnet yam) flesh, cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) cubes, steamed until soft*, then mashed
  • 100 g (3/4 cup and 1 heaped tablespoon) glutinous (sweet) rice flour
  • 12 teaspoons raw coconut sugar
  • dessicated (shredded) coconut, for coating

* I had success in microwaving the sweet potatoes/yams in a bowl, covered with clingfilm (plastic wrap), for 3-4 minutes.


1. Transfer the warm mashed sweet potato (garnet yam) into a medium sized bowl. Add the glutinous (sweet) rice flour and knead into a dough. If the dough is too dry, add a bit of water. If it’s too wet, add a bit of glutinous (sweet) rice flour. The dough should be pliable, but not sticky.

2. Divide the dough into 12 equal sized portions. On your hand, or work surface, press one portion of the dough into a flat disc. Carefully spoon 1 teaspoon of coconut sugar into the center of the disc and pinch up the edges to seal. You may need to dampen the edges with a little water to aid the sticking. Roll to form a smooth ball. Repeat with the remaining dough and coconut sugar.

3. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Carefully lower the balls into the water, and stir to ensure there is no sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook on medium-high until the balls float to the surface. Reduce the heat, and simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes.

4. Drain and transfer to a lightly greased plate as a single layer. Roll each ball in desiccated (shredded) coconut to coat evenly. Pop into your mouth and enjoy whilst warm!


2 thoughts on “Sweet Potato Glutinous Rice Balls with Coconut Sugar

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