Tomorrow is Chinese New Year and I feel extra special this year because my parents are here with me. By some luck, my mom has her last Indonesian nian gao with her. Somebody must have brought it with her and gave it to her. This specialty cake is only available during Chinese New Year and is called "Kue Keranjang" in Bahasa Indonesia. I love the ones from Indonesia since they are wrapped in bamboo leaves and give out distinctive smell to the cakes.
My mom usually deep-fry the cake, which is sliced thin and coated with flour and eggs. And when it is prepared that way the cake has this crunchy coating and soft and chewy inside. This time my mom suggested preparing the cake slightly different. The cake is cut into squarish pieces, then they are steamed. To accompany the cake, unsweetened shredded coconut is also steamed together. When the cake pieces are very soft, both the cake and coconut are taken out of the steamer. Salt is added to the shredded coconut. Then those two are combined together to produce sticky mass in a bowl. The result is similar to "kue ongol-ongol" which is made with tapioca starch, palm sugar, water, and some flavoring in which pandanus extract from the leaves are quite popular.
The fun part is eating the chewy, soft, aromatic, sweet, and salty cake. I couldn't ask for a better New Year's dessert! Happy Chinese New Year, Gong Xi Fat Cai!