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Sweet Potato Balls Recipe (蕃薯旦)

Sweet potato balls / 蕃薯旦

Sweet potato balls (蕃薯旦) are sweet snacks found in Malaysia. Made from the most humble ingredients–sweet potatoes, flour, and sugar–they are tasty treats for breakfast or afternoon tea.

When I was growing up, my aunt would always make them at home, or she would buy them from the market. Back then in Penang, the best sweet potato balls were found in the morning market at Anson Road–a wet market that my aunt used to frequent while I was little. Sometimes, she would bring me along and I would watch the sweet patoto balls vendor happily rolled the dough into small balls and then deep fried them to golden brown. For a mere RM0.20 or so, I got myself ten sweet treats with great taste. I was always so cheery whenever I had them.

Sweet potato balls are very easy to make at home. I got 1 lb of sweet potatoes a few days ago and here is what I did.

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28 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. Chris

    Geez…I’ve missed so many posts…

    I just recently lost a friend who died of cancer at age 29. It’s real tough to get myself organized.

    Food doesn’t seem to work for me right now, however, this food blog is definitely the blog and you must read everyday. Don’t miss it.

  2. suanne

    Sweet potato ball is one of my favourite street food. One of these day, I must break my principal of not doing deep frying at home so that I can enjoy the food that I had been missing for a long time.

    • Derek

      Hi There, I seldom deep fry at home because of the fumes and the carpet and upholstery absorbing cooking smells.
      Nowadays, I do not deep fry because of health reasons.
      Hell, you only live once. Get rid off all your shackles and get a life…
      Actually, If you deep fry at home. Say do it once deep fry a few items within 30 minutes, it is healthier. Throw away the oil after that.
      So you can start with prawn crackers, then sweet potato balls and then chicken and finally fish. All within 20 or 30 minutes before the oil becomes carcinogenic. It is still healthier than eating in posh restaurants.
      We use an extension cord and cook on the deck or on a BBQ.
      A real kiasu and kiasee.
      I am trying this sweet potato recipe next when weather gets better four years too late(now 29 May 2010). All the best to all Malaysian exiles from Auckland, nz

      • Hi Derek – yes, I have the same problem with frying in an American kitchen. It’s not like home in Malaysia where the smell doesn’t trap in the house. I now have a deep-fryer and I deep fry in my garage and have the garage door open for the whole day to rid the smell. Good luck. :)

  3. Rasa Malaysia

    Ai-leen – I agree, the only place that I can find them in Penang now is the hawker center at the Jelutong evening market.

    Chris – I am so sorry to hear that. Take care and be strong.

    Suanne – I hear you, deep frying is hard in homes this part of the world. Try a deep fryer. ;)

  4. tigerfish

    Feel like something sweet now. Are these the same as those sesame seed balls, usually served in dim-sum ? Have tried those with red-bean filling before, but not sure if the base of making into the 旦 is the same ?

    You make me want to eat these off the PC screen!!! Count the 旦 now to see if there’s any missing ;p

  5. Chubbypanda


    Yet another tasty Malaysian snack also found in Taiwan. Now I really really wanna visit Malaysia.

    My deep fryer is a wok and a “spider”. =)

    – Chubbypanda

  6. Rasa Malaysia

    Tigerfish – No, they are not like those served in Dim Sum…this one is just plain sweet potato balls with no fillings.

    Chubbypanda – Yes, you should. It’s Visit Malaysia Year 2007 soon…

    WMW – Yep, they were my childhood favorite too…sweet sweet memories.

  7. KeV's wAlKAbOuT

    Hey Rasa! OMG! 蕃薯旦is the love of my life. Everytime I went back to KL to visit relatives etc I always make an effort to go 薯厂街 to buy it from the stall cart. But it’s sad that it’s no longer sold in 薯厂街 anymore. =(

    Hopefully with your recipe, I’m able to replicate it, and be able to eat it once more! Thx for the recipe!

  8. Bell

    Hello Rasa, I tried to make your sweet potato balls according to recipe & instructions but find that even after almost 2 cups of flour, my “dough” is still a gloopy paste. Any idea why?

  9. cc ang

    I am surprise that Rasa you missed the sweet potato balls in Anson Rd, I missed it too! I went back to look for it years ago when I went back to Malaysia but it was gone. Can you tell me where can I get it in Penang?

  10. Dyana

    isnt it call “Cha Koi” ?? thats what the chinese people called them..although it isnt round… its like a stick.. taste great!

  11. Diana

    I went to Cameron Highland recently where these balls are sold almost everywhere..But since I’m fasting (it’s puasa month), i bought a few packs home and realized i didn’t know how to make the balls..Definitely will try to make them tomorrow for buka puasa..Thanx for the recipe..

  12. Dear rasa Malaysia,

    Once I tried to do some frying coated with sesame seeds . But the problem I faced that the sesame seeds get deep dark or burned when frying the balls or main iteam . Also , the sesame seeds get scattered in the oil from the food. Does not stick all seeds with the food always . Some get scattered some sticks. Please advise.


  13. Dan Toh

    Not much of a cook myself but did this one and had so muchx fun with my kids.
    This site is the only place I come to for cooking ideas these days! :)

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