Cendol, Anyone?

>> December 1, 2011

I wish I made better photos, but the ice quickly melts!
After hundreds of grams of rice and tapioca flour wasted, underarm pains and sweat, and numerous failed attempts, not to mention the horrific clean-ups, I finally succeeded in making cendol! Wee!

I first learned about cendol in Holland, during my summer visit in 2009. It was funny to have the first taste of this asian delicacy in a western country, when I have lived all my life in Asia. Es Cendol is a green, worm-like jellies made from rice flour, tapioca flour and mung bean flour served with coco palm sugar syrup, coconut milk and shaved ice, topped with jackfruit - a very popular drink/dessert in Indonesia. Cendol was a love at first taste experience. I was in constant search for it here in Manila, but unfortunately, it's not available anywhere. I find it odd that I could never find it in any of my favourite Asian restaurants around the city when it is super popular in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, our neighboring countries.

Finding the right ingredients was a bit of a challenge for me though - gula jawa and mung bean flour in particular. I scoured all specialty Asian shops for these and didn't have any success. Nevertheless, I found coco sugar, the closest alternative I can get for gula jawa, although in my opinion, gula jawa's sweetness complexity still is the best. I gave up on mung bean flour and settled for the rice flour and tapioca flour combo - which ended up in a disaster. My cendol just melted a few minutes after it's submerged in the ice water. Although most Indonesian cendol recipe say it's just rice and tapioca flour, for some reason I couldn't succeed. So I thought the mung bean flour was the only key, and I don't have it. After numerous attempts with rice flour and tapioca flour in different proportions, I finally called it off and decided to wait on my cendol dreams. But thanks to Tika, she revived my cendol hopes and sent me that precious mung bean flour - straight from Indonesia. I finally made my first successful cendol! My cendol hopes and dreams would have died if it wasn't for Tika, thank you so much dear!

After browsing for numerous cendol recipes and videos, I was lead to Almost Bourdain, which has a simple recipe for the cendol jellies. I tweaked it a bit according to my taste, and it did work(oh geez, it's about time!).

So here's my take on cendol! Hope you like it :).

Ingredients:

Cendol Jellies
- 80g mung bean flour
- 500ml water
- green food coloring
- pandan leaves (or pandan flavor)
- 3 tbsp white sugar
- iced water in a bowl
- colander

Coconut Milk
- Kara Coconut Cream (or better, fresh coconut and get the "kakang gata" or the first milk)
- pandan leaves
- salt

Syrup
- 250 coco sugar, or coco palm sugar
- 250ml water
- Pandan leaves

Cendol Jellies Preparation:
1. Dissolve the mung bean flour in 500ml water.
2. Add few drops of green food coloring until you reach the color of electric green. You may also use pandan leaves to make the color natural.
(To do this, put pandan and 500ml of water in a blender. Sieve and take the liquid extract and use that to dissolve the mung bean flour).
3. Add sugar and 1 tbsp of pandan flavor, stir until dissolve.
4. Set your stove in low heat and begin stirring the mixture in a pot. Continuously stir until it thickens.
5. When it's paste like and super thick turn off the heat and get ready to mold!
6. Put the colander on top of the iced water.
7. Pour the cendol thick mixture on the colander and start scraping back and forth with a use of a spatula. The holes in the colander will serve as your mold to make that little green worms. DO NOT WAIT TOO LONG, otherwise when it gets cold it will be hard to mold.
8. When done, set aside.

Syrup Preparation.
1. Combine coco sugar and 250ml water in a pot, in low heat.
2. Stir until sugar's dissolve.
3. Make a knot out of about 4 pandan leaves and simmer it together with the sugar. If you don't have pandan leaves, just add 1 tbsp of pandan flavor.

Coconut Milk Preparation.
1. Heat the coconut cream (kakang gata) in a pot using low-heat.
2. Add about 2 tbsp. pandan flavor, or make a knot out of pandan leaves and put it in the milk.
3. Add a dash of salt.
4. Turn of the stove when it starts to bubble.

To serve:

In a glass or bowl, layer it with coco sugar syrup, cendol jellies, crushed ice, and coconut milk. You can top it with fruits like langka (jackfruit) or banana. Add more cendol jellies on top if you wish.


This cendol jelly is noodle type, where I poked a hole in a plastic bag and piped the cendol mixture in it. If you do this, try to not wait to long because cendol is hard to pipe out when it cools down. Don't forget to also wear mittens because the plastic gets super hot :).

3 comments:

tika hapsari nilmada December 2, 2011 at 3:27 AM  

Looks great to me !
In Indonesia, we use suji leaves for the natural green color and it gives specific taste to the cendol.

One day I make my own cendol and I'll show you how it goes :D

foodblogandthedog December 11, 2011 at 3:46 PM  

Wow such a lot of work! Was it worth it in the end? I always find that my favourite food (Lebanese) always tastes better when someone else makes it. The harder I try the worse it gets!! Your cendol looks gorgeous though!

Marvie Yap December 21, 2011 at 11:03 PM  

@Tika - looking forward to that!
@Natalie - Absolutely! So far, no one complained when I served it haha! I'm crazy about this dessert. Thanks for liking the photo :)

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I work and live at night time. I am a person deprived of natural light. I rarely cook in the morning as I'm almost always asleep, else busy with house chores. As much as I love natural light in my photography, I'm afraid I don't usually have that luxury, unless I sacrifice my sleep, or make an effort to stay up longer during the day to do a cooking + photo session. So I depend on my flash, and sometimes, available light from my fluorescent bulbs. Although, in my opinion, nothing beats the natural light, I am, so far, satisfied with my shots using my flash that I learned to love.

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