You might have seen these at local bakeries or at roadside/hawker stalls next to other colourful kuihs – a little brown muffin capped with a sweet banana slice. Think of it as a more delicate, softer version of the classic banana cake! We love harum manis (directly translated to fragrant-sweet) because of its pillowy soft texture, caramel notes and lovely banana fragrance. It’s deceptively easy to make too, but be sure to have the right ingredients on hand.
For starters, we recommend using pisang raja, a popular type of local banana instead of other kinds of bananas (i.e. pisang Tanduk, pisang Kepok etc) as it vastly improves the outcome of your kuih. You may have to visit your local wet market to get your hands on these. Pisang raja is widely considered the king of bananas for eating and cooking. It is about 10 to 15cm long, with thick skin and faceted shape. The flesh of pisang raja is truly unlike other bananas – it’s deep yellow and almost orange, and the level of sweetness is much higher. Tip: Goreng pisang made with pisang raja also tastes much sweeter (a mellow kind of sweetness) than those made with other banana varieties.
Back to harum manis! For the baking moulds, you can use smaller cupcake moulds or smaller muffin tin moulds. Traditionally, harum manis should be eaten in one bite and regular Western-sized moulds might be too large.
The gula Melaka used in this recipe truly brings out the caramelized flavour – don’t substitute it with brown sugar or anything else, it won’t taste the same.
This recipe yields about 56 little kuihs.