Posted by: adventuressetravels | March 16, 2012

Malaysia’s Ice Cream

The roadside vendor put a chunk of ice in what appeared to be a huge vice-grip.  He cranked the grip and the block of ice sheared off into red bowls of snow.  I watched as he ladled out coconut milk with green bits floating in it over the piles of shaved ice before dumping a dollop of red beans on top.

That was my introduction to Cendol.

Malaysians were eating this curious dessert everywhere, but I hesitated.  What was it?  Was it soup?  Was it a meal?  I’d never seen anything quite like it – it just looked strange.  When I found out that it was a dessert it seemed even odder. Apparently it was a sweet mix of shaved ice, coconut milk with red beans and some sort of long green –bean-like jellies.

But I like to try different foods, so it wasn’t long before I ordered a bowl of cendol for myself.  And another, and another.

Imagine coconut milk poured over shaved ice for a rich creamy ice cream-like dessert.  Drizzle molasses-like palm syrup over it.  Now put red beans, and green pandan-leaf-colored jellies on top for texture and flavor and you have Malaysia’s national dessert.

It’s like coconut ice cream with toppings, and I adore my ice cream.  Cendol is all-but necessary to beat the steamy Malaysian heat.

It may look a little scary before it’s mixed up, but this multi-textured melange of textures is delightful.  Sweet, but not too sweet, creamy, and refreshing.   If you get the chance to sample this unique dessert then definitely try a bowl and make sure you eat it fast before it turns into coconut soup.  It’s a delicious way to beat the heat.

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