Skip to main content

Keria (Sweet Potato Doughnut)

I'VE had an extraordinary childhood: have definitely experienced a way of life which may have even been unfamiliar to my peers then. A part of it includes food. From growing it, getting our supply from growers in the neighbourhood and to cooking, there was plenty of good food around. A common crop in the house garden was the tapioca or cassava. We had planted like 50 of those all year round, back to back. Till now, I still couldn't figure why we did that because after harvesting what's needed for us, some neighbours and friends, we still had extras. My dad and grandma (maternal) were crazy about this root. Their sentiment, I think, wasn't something that stemmed from its lovely flavours. Rather, it was more deep-rooted than that. Both dad and grandma had lived through the dreadful Japanese occupation era in Malaya (Dec 1941 to Aug 1945) during which time, food supply was scarce. Staple rice was out of the question. People's lives depended mainly on tapioca because it grew easily, all year round, with minimal effort. It had kept them alive from starvation. 

So there was that sentiment. My dad who hardly ever gets upset with me, got visibly upset whenever I expressed dislike over food made from tapioca. He'd swiftly and constantly remind me of how it had kept them alive during the era. I didn't make much of it then but now thinking back, I know better. My grandma, on the other hand, was a bit lax about that. There were several ways we ate them. We start by washing and boiling the roots. The soft root was then made into traditional Malay cakes (kueh), eaten with tea. For a more savoury option, the boiled and cubed root was fried with spices, curry leaves and Asian anchovies as a meal of its own. It can be fried into fritters, cooked to porridge or simply eaten with sugar and freshly grated coconut (which we also grew in the huge backyard next to the pineapple plot). 

As a kid though, I couldn't identify with the clean flavours of tapioca. It generally felt a bit bland and sometimes even dry for my liking. Of course, I feel differently about it now. What I actually really did like then were sweet potatoes. We didn't grow any of those but we got them, also locally grown, easily from the market. They can be cooked in almost the same ways we do with tapioca. I like them simply boiled, fried into sweet fritters or made into Malay tea cakes. One such tea cake which I enjoy very much is Keria or sweet potato doughnuts! The inside is a bit dense but soft. The outside is coated with crunchy crystalised sugar. My grandma cooked them at home but we could also easily buy them at the market in the mornings and evenings. These days, they're more of a treat than anything for me. I've cut out all processed sugar from my diet for almost three years now. 

A batch of Keria which we shared with my British neighbours downstairs
I haven't made them in such a long time. Not since around the time my grandma was alive. In Doha, these are hard to find unless there's a Malaysian food bazaar at the embassy. After more than a decade, I made a batch today, thinking of my wonderful childhood, our large kitchen and all the good times we had in that quarter of house. 

Ingredients : 

600g sweet potatoes (about two medium-sized ones, boiled and peeled) 
1.5 to 2 cups flour 
some oil ( I use a combination of coconut and grape seed oils) 

1/2 cup sugar and a little water to glaze 


Mash the sweet potatoes and add flour bit by bit. Mix well. Also add salt. 
It may be sticky. Use a bit of plain flour to coat the fingers, pinch a small ball of off the mixture to shape into a10cm long cylinder. Join both ends, and fry till golden on both sides. 

Combine sugar and water in a wok over medium fire. Mix till it thickens and add all of the fried doughnuts. Coat well and let it cool to enjoy. 



  1. The kitchen sure can hold so many memories as the food and cooking sure brings us together. Not a bad treat to have every once and while either, by the sounds of it

    1. i love kitchens in general. so much living goes in there, Pat. not bad at all :)

  2. They look delicious, but why does your recipe say tapioca instead of sweet potatoes?

    1. good eye! thank you, GB. got it changed now ;)

  3. I love cassava, Jaya J. I can see why your dad would get upset, but how could you've know, right? :)

    1. yum! i'm hungry for a little taste of crytalised sugar in my mouth now. eeks! i was young then so i couldn't think or feel beyond a point. but now, i do :) hope you're well, Blue

  4. Nice post, things explained in details. Thank You.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Healing With Essential Oils

OILS and I go a long way. My mom used a lot of oil on me, growing up. As a teenager, baby oil was my go-to daily face moisturiser. I didn't know then what I know now about synthetic oils but it worked for me. In my early 20s, I fell in love with pure essential oils. I was introduced to the world of Culpeper during work. Then, I was gifted a 50ml bottle of jojoba base oil with two precious bottles of 10ml rose and geranium essentials oils courtesy of Culpeper. I was set for life and I've never looked back ever since. 

Over the years, I have depended on and dwelled solely in beauty oils. Recently, I've started learning about healing through essential oils. It's been a huge eye-opener for me. Essential oils are just not skin deep, they're simply so much more than that. The potent substances extracted through steam distillation from various shrubs, flowers, roots, skin and seeds could have incredible healing powers when used with sensitivity, respect and knowledge. It i…

My Karma Kamet

CONSIDERING my big love for essential oils, I know meeting Karma Kamet (KK) was destiny. My first encounter with this Thai label of aromatherapy product is like a brief introduction to a friend's friend who'd later turn out to be someone you wake up next to quite regularly. I walked into a KK kiosk at a mall in Petaling Jaya about two years ago. Well, the products then were impressive - high grade essential oils, but the collection seemed pretty scarce with stupid price tags on them. So I didn't bother following up until a few days ago when I bumped into KK at its homeland, in its full range and glory! 
The KK oils are super awesome with a capital W. Like Wow. So spending time at the KK store in the Central World mall in Bangkok was a bliss. Not only are the products much cheaper there, the place is a total retreat too. On one side is the store where there are all kinds of products ranging from scented candles, perfume oil mist, pure essential oils, soaps, oil sprays, herba…

A Painful Lesson

BEING back in the pool has been great ! Found my rhythm again and I'm swimming like a dolphin although my friend Aida says I swim like a shark. I told her I won't bite as long as she doesn't throw herself like a whale onto my swimming lane. You know how annoying it is when inconsiderate, non-swimming creatures suddenly decide to 'float' in your swimming way knowing that you've been doing laps for the last 30 minutes ? If they are not blind, then they have to be socially spastic. Socially spastic like the man who doesn't swim at the Kelana Jaya pool. This man, with belly like a pot, wonders in the middle section of the 50m pool, and does nothing but floats or water-threads just when a swimmer is reaching that section of the pool. Two weeks ago, I was a victim of this water-buffalo. When I was just a meter away from him, he appeared on my lane, looking at me with that too-bad-its-my-pool-too look that I had to stop and swim around him. No apologies at all. Ho…