Malaysian Monday 16: Cendol

Monday, November 23, 2009

(a.k.a. A tale of two cendols and a small rant )

Boy, Monday came around quickly didn’t it? Will try to keep my post short and sweet today as I have the tendency to be a little verbose.

The weekend temperatures in Sydney meant there was a lot of this:

Which left hardly any time for other things. Luckily, the cendol (pronounced ch-en-dole) was very quick and easy to put together, and used lots of shaved ice. Perfect for when the temperatures were soaring (sorry Northern Hemisphereans ☺)

I’ve mentioned this dessert/ drink before. Cendol is a cold, sweet treat comprising green “noodles”, shaved ice, gula melaka (palm sugar) syrup and coconut milk. Other ingredients such as corn, red beans, glutinous rice or even durian are sometimes added to the mix.

The cendol “noodles” are made by cooking up a dough, then passing this dough through a cendol frame set over a basin of cold water. Since I didn’t have a cendol frame, I used a slotted spoon instead, which worked a treat.


The dough needs to be kept warm to get a smooth noodle (top). If you stop to take photos, then the dough gets cold and you end up with a squiggly noodle like the one at the bottom.

I’d never actually made cendol before because this is the sort of dessert most Malaysian wouldn’t really bother making at home unless they need to feed a crowd. It would be far simpler and cheaper to rock up to the nearest cendol stand or hawker centre when the mood strikes.

So I turned to a recipe found in a little book called "Hawkers Delight". The recipe looked kind-of right, with mung-bean flour as the main ingredient. I adapted the recipe according to my taste then found that the resulting noodles look exactly like cendol but the texture wasn’t quite there. The noodles were very “solid” and I remembered the cendol I used to have were more silky and slippery in texture.

So I hit the web and found another recipe published in a newspaper…hmmmm…it looked almost like the one I’d just attempted. I think I’ll pass thanks.

Then I found a recipe on Lily’s blog. This looked interesting, she used rice flour as the main ingredient, then the mung bean flour and a little bit of tapioca flour for the “springiness” found in many Asian desserts.  I quickly whipped it up (forgetting to add green colouring so the noodles ended up slightly paler than the earlier version). Voila, this definitely tasted more like the cendol of my childhood.

The better cendol is on the spoon on the left and the other cendol is on the right

I know food bloggers come under a fair bit of flak sometimes, but IMHO, they keep things real. I really don’t trust the recipes in that little book of mine anymore (I’ve tried a couple of them already and the results usually fall short. I wonder if they even tested any of these recipes!). And as for that published food columnist? Let’s just say I’m not a fan.

At least I know where I stand with most food bloggers. They’re not afraid to tell me if a recipe sucks, or if they tried and failed while attempting something. And they’re usually extremely helpful when I have a query, plus they’re fun to read!

Oh don’t worry you big publishing houses. I’ll still buy cookbooks and magazines, because I like to curl up on the couch and flick through the pages, dreaming of the next dish I’d like to attempt. Just make sure that the recipes do actually work ok?

(Mr Kitchen Hand refused to eat this, so no scores. I tried to score Mini-critic senior who muttered "yum, I ate the whole lot, bye!" before she scampered back into the paddling pool. Ah well)

(So, living dangerously in glass houses and throwing stones – if you have tried anything I’ve posted and it didn’t quite work out, can you please let me know so I can fix it? I’m not a trained cook, just a mad experimenter ☺. And no, I’m definitely not interested in  publishing a cookbook one day).

Have a great day !


Ellie said...

Lol at the picture of the legs and pool!! It was so HOT yesterday and I did my DBC on the hottest day of the year. What was I thinking. I gave up trying to feed my hubby and daughter with unfamiliar malaysian delicacy. She even name them as 'alien food'. lol! Good on you to make your own cendol noodles!

shaz said...

Wow! Good on you Ellie, I thought I wasn't going to make the DBC this month, but just finished today...yay! Ha ha, my hubby calls "kuih" bicycle inner tubes!

The Cooking Photographer said...

Hi Shaz,

Its Malaysian Monday again! Thanks for the Northen love. It's snowing again.

What I love about food blogging is that we're honest. We're learning and not everything is going to be perfect. That's the fun of it. I love it when people tell me they added this or that to one of my dishes needed improvement, or that it was amazing!

That's how I learn. Oh and I love making foodie friends here too.

Like you though, I'll still buy all those publications lol.


Juliana said...

Oh! What an interesting noddles, would love to try them :-)