At first glance, Ais Kacang (sometimes spelt Ice Kacang) looks like a perfectly innocent snow-coneish dessert. The top half is just shaved ice streaked with colourful sugar syrup and drizzled with condensed milk (or evaporated milk). Two types of syrup are used - a red one (sometimes rose flavoured) and a brown syrup made from gula melaka (dark brown palm sugar).
Ah, but what’s this lurking at the bottom. A mixture of different things : in our case, some boiled red beans (azuki beans), creamed corn, sago pearls, coconut jelly and “grass” jelly. In fact, Ais Kacang is also known as Air Batu Campur (or ABC for short). Air Batu (literally water, stone) is the Malay word for ice, and campur means mixed. This mixture can vary from stall to stall. Red beans and corn are usually requisite – the word kacang (legume) refers to the beans in this dish. Usually attap palm seeds are added (not my favourite so I left them out). Then many variations of jellyish things and sometimes cendol are mixed in. Fancy-schmancy folks also add a scoop of ice-cream on top, a lychee and maybe a handful of crushed, toasted peanuts.
A well built Ais Kacang is truly a sight to behold!
If you’re willing to brave the mix, here’s a general guide to building your own. Feel free to vary the mixture as you see fit.
You will need:
Shaved ice (I used the blender to crush some ice-cubes. In hot weather, it helps to chill the blender jug and the bowl that the ice mixture will be put into)
Syrup 1 – boil 1 part sugar to 1 part water (I used 1 cup of each) until the sugar is dissolved, let simmer for a couple of minutes. Cool then add colours and flavours if desired (eg. rosewater)
Syrup 2 – Disolve equal parts palm sugar and water, then boil until syrupy. Leave to cool.
Condensed milk or evaporated milk
Mixture of: Boiled azuki beans, creamed corn, sago pearls, jelly, cendol, lychees, and whatever else takes your fancy.
Coconut jelly and "grass" jelly (also known as cincau - I really don't know what it's made of!)
Place your chosen mixture in the bottom of a bowl or deep glass, top with shaved ice then drizzle with syrup and milk. Eat if you dare ☺