Learn how to make Indonesian lontong (rice cake) the traditional way wrapped in banana leaves.
Lontong or loosely translated as Rice Cake is very popular in South East Asia especially Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. It is made of rice grains wrapped and cooked in banana leaves. It is slightly greenish in color (color transferred from the banana leaves) and it goes with many dishes such as Satay Padang, Ketoprak, sometimes in Gado Gado, and my absolute favorite is lontong sayur. These are just to mention a few.
Now, I feel like I can make lontong anytime of the week without having to worry about not having a tall pot, or the mould !
My mom got me some “moulds” (as seen in the photos) that commonly used to cook the rice cake.
They really make my life so much easier. Lontong needs to be cooked standing up, so with having the moulds, definitely, your life will be easier. I need to update this part because honestly speaking, all these years, I thought I had to cook lontong in a standing position and that’s NOT TRUE! I’ve made lontong several times since then without mould and not in standing position inside the pot and they turned out really good too! I told my mom that too and her reaction was “That’s a relief to know! Because having to cook the lontong in a standing position is really a “PITA” (mom didn’t say that exact word!)”
Indonesian rice cakes in banana leaves (lontong) - updated
- 4 cups jasmine rice washed and drained
- Banana leaves I got mine frozen from asian store, so thawed them overnight in the refrigerator
- Box of toothpicks
- Clean the banana leaves with clean damp cloth before using. Cut 7-8 pieces of 10" (25 cm) in width. Warm them up a little bit on an open fire briefly. This helps the banana leaves to stay soft and avoid cracking. Just be careful not to burn your hands
- Roll each leaf (lengthwise with the green shiny side in, so your lontong will have slightly greenish color) into a cylinder with a diameter of about 3 inches (8 cm). You can go down to 6 inches too. I think this is a perfect size without being too big or too small. Bigger rolls will require longer cooking time
- Secure one of the end with toothpicks. Fill out each log with rice. The amount of rice depends on the length of your rolls. If you have a 20-cm roll in length, you want to fill up the rice below half of 20 cm, which is about 10 cm. This will make sure you won't have tough lontong and your lontong will not burst because rice expands as it cooks. Continue until you use up all the rice
- Prepare a big pot with some water. Place the lontong inside the pot. They will tend to float at first, but slowly submerge them and try not to overcrowd the pot. If your pot is tall enough to let them cook in standing position, that's great. You save more space and can cook more. But if not, don't worry, you can still cook them in "sleeping" position. But I won't crowd the pot. Probably cook 4-5 pieces. Bring the water to a boil and then lower the heat to let it gently simmer
- Cook for minimum of 3 hours with the lid on. If you make bigger rolls, you may need 4-6 hours
- They may appear soft when you just pull them out from the pot and think you have a failed product, but they will be that way. I let them cool for about one hour before opening and slicing them and they are just firm enough without being tough
- Do not cut the lontong until they are completely cool. Slice the lontong with wet knife to make your life easier 🙂 They can be kept in refrigerator, wrapped nicely in plastic wrapper for up to one week and months in freezer
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Lontong Sayur Medan
Hello Marv, what kind of rice (short, medium, or long grain) is best suited to make lontong this way? I read somewhere that said long grain isn’t very good choice because they won’t stick together (?) is that true? haha thanks!
Hi Jenny, I use long grain rice because that’s what we usually have in stock at home. You just want to cook it a bit “wetter” and really press it down to pack it.
have you ever tried to make lontong with banana leaves in the instant pot?
Hi Christine, I haven’t tried it out with Instant Pot yet. I probably should one of these days!
Im wondering if 15 cm diameter isn’t a bit much? Anyways, I tried this yesterday and the rice came out of the banana leave molds while they were boiling. I think maybe less rice is needed.
When you fill up the rice, you only fill up about half of the length of the mould because the rice, of course, expands as it cooks. I have to admit that the larger the diameter, it will take longer to cook too. You can definitely make it smaller, but how much you fill up the rice is usually half the length of the rolls. I hope that makes sense.
Btw, Barbara, I just realized you said 15 cm in diameter! I don’t know what I was thinking, but yes that is definitely too large for the lontong. Sorry, it was my mistake typing the recipe. It should be about 8 cm max for diameter (about 3 inches). But how much you fill it up, half the length still stand. I have fixed the recipe. Sorry for the confusion!
this recipe is totally wrong. for lontong you take smooth cooked rice and fill the banana leaf with it and then cook it again.
There are actually two ways I know of making lontong. One of them is like you mentioned, by using already precooked rice. The other one is using uncooked rice. My grandma and mom have been doing lontong using uncooked rice forever. The method you mentioned probably results in a shorter period of time. We’ve been making lontong using this method and that’s what I’m comfortable sharing. Cheers!