In Malaysian kuih, this filling is one of the basics.
It is used in various types of kuih, so many that I can't name them all.
Besides in kuih, we also find this filling in buns.
You can choose to use coconut sugar (gula melaka), palm sugar (gula kabung/apong) or jaggery (gula merah) to make this filling. As jaggery is very dark (and slightly sourish), I mixed in some white sugar. But you can use all palm or coconut sugar. There are also gula kerek, gula jawa, or Thai palm sugar (colour is really light), and if you still can't find any of these, use dark muscovado sugar. Muscovado sugar taste quite similar to jaggery as both are made from sugarcane.
As for jaggery itself, I like Indian jaggery, those that comes in bulk in a gunny sack (I'm not sure if the shop you buy from will show you the original packaging), and is moist and lumpy. The fragrance is wonderful and it's on the fruity side. I will get it from the local grocery store, weighed to my preference. I do see it in Tesco as well, at the loose spice section. Thai jaggery (comes under Star brand) are hygienically packaged and are loose grained. It's more convenient. All jaggery should be store in the fridge as they are moist and grows mould easily. Jaggery is high in iron and I consume it during post labour confinement.
As for the flour in this recipe, it gives the filling some binding powder, especially if you want the filling on the moist side. It's ok to omit it, and cook it drier.
If you choose to reduce the sugar, take note that the filling might not be glossy and it can taste quite dry. Natural sugars are usually less sweet than white sugar, so you can be more liberal with it so that the filling can stay moist and not too sweet.
Sweet Coconut FillingMakes around 1 heaped cup of filling
60g dark molasses sugar /jaggery*
Pinch of salt
Pandan leaf, torn small
1/4 cup water
120g grated coconut
3/4 tsp plain flour (or glutinous rice flour)
1. Put both sugar, salt, pandan leaf and water into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until all the sugar has melted.
2. On medium heat, add in grated coconut and cook until it almost reaches the dryness you prefer.
3. Sprinkle in plain flour and stir it well. Cook it until it reaches the dryness you like.
*Or use 90gm of other natural sugars