12 September, 2015
Halapa (Finger millet steamed cake)
This is an authentic Sri Lankan snack, which is usually served with tea. Very easy to prepare and requires minimal equipment’s. It is considered very nutritious. Finger millet is an ancient grain which is high in calcium, potassium and rich in dietary fiber.
I used steamed desiccated coconut instead of fresh shredded coconut. You can find both shredded coconut and treacle in Asian groceries. Ideally I would have used freshly grated coconut if I could get my hands on some.
In Sri Lanka we normally use ‘kenda’ (Macaranga peltata) leaves to seal this dough which gives the unique scent and flavour. Banana leaf gives close enough results except for the scent. I couldn’t find any banana leaves unfortunately and so I used baking paper instead and it turned out just fine except that I had to steam it for longer and definitely lacking the nice scent.
- 120g Finger millet flour
- Salt to taste
- 50g Shredded coconut
- 65ml treacle
- Banana leaves or baking paper to wrap
- Cut banana leaves or baking paper in to 6-10 inch squares (depending on how big or small you plan to make halapa)
- Boil treacle in a heavy bottom saucepan and add the coconut and let it simmer for about 2 minutes and take off the heat and let cool down.
- Once coconut mixture is cooled, add the flour, salt and mix the dough using hand until it comes together in to a ball. If it’s too try, add some water. If too runny add a dash of flour.
- The dough should be spreadable. It can be sticky so wet your hands before handling to prevent dough sticking on to your palm.
- Take small piece of dough and spread thinly on banana leaf or baking paper. Make as thin as possible as this reduce cooking time. Leave about 1 to 2 inches space in the edges.
- Gently fold the paper or leaf in half, do not press.
- Repeat this with remaining dough.
- Steam for about 20 minutes or until ready.
- When dough is not sticky and stiff enough to hold its shape, it’s ready.
- Checking for doneness could be tricky. Cooked Halapa gets a glozy smooth skin on the outside and soft inside. You can taste test to see if it's not row.