What is cendol?
Cendol is a dessert made of rice flour jellies and served in palm sugar syrup and coconut milk. The jellies are in a bright green color and have a distinctive delicious aroma from the pandan leaf.
It is often enjoyed as a dessert in a drink that one can quench their thirst and simultaneously relish the delightful green gooey-like jellies.
What does it taste like?
The green fice flour jellies have a texture like jelly. But it has a fragrant Pandan leaf aroma.
And the palm sugar and coconut milk syrup give creamy sweetness to the jelly.
What country is it from?
As of Indonesian descent, I’d say Cendol is from Java, Indonesia. But I obviously can not claim this 100% for sure as now many countries in Southeast Asia would argue that it originated from their country.
All I can say is that decades ago, when I used to go to Singapore, Cendol didn’t exist there and was not known at all. So, just like any food, I suppose this ambrosial dessert has traveled beyond so many borders that it now exists in many countries.
You can find this drink of green gooey jellies in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar.
Since I’m not a historian, I’d leave the debate to the expert. And let me share what I know.
Is it traditional food?
Yes, sort of. In Indonesia, Cendol is one of the popular Jajan Pasar, aka street foods. It is particularly often sought-after during the fasting month, Ramadan, as a sweet starter to break the fast.
And because it’s almost always hot throughout the year in Indonesia, people enjoy cold sweet desserts like Cendol to break the fast.
What is Cendol made of?
A few types of Cendol differ according to their key ingredients. They are mung bean flour, also called Hunkwe, and rice flour.
The latter will give a little bitey and chewy texture to the jellies. As for the ones made of Hunkwe flour (mung bean flour), the jellies have a texture similar to gelatine jellies. They don’t have any chewiness at all.
I personally prefer the one made of rice flour. And that is what I’m sharing in this recipe.
This recipe uses rice flour as its main ingredient. With a little bit of tapioca flour as an addition to give a chewy texture to the cendol.
As for the green color, I use ready-made pandan paste for convenience.
But if, for whatever reason, you can not get palm sugar, you can substitute it with dark muscovado sugar or dark soft brown sugar. Just bear in mind, that this sugar is sweeter than palm sugar, so you may want to adjust the sweetness according to your taste and the sugar you choose.
Last but not least, you will need coconut milk to make this Cendol dessert drink. Try to get good quality coconut milk so your cendol will taste good, too. And if possible, try to put a bit of pandan leaf when you boil the coconut milk. So it will be nicely fragrant.
Here in the UK, we can only get Thai pandan leaves that are very long. So, ⅔ of one pandan leaf is more than enough for this recipe.
How To Make
In essence, you must cook three elements, i.e. green pudding, sugar syrup, and coconut milk.
So, firstly, you mix the rice flour, tapioca flour, and salt in a mixing bowl. Then add 300 ml/ 10.14 fl. oz water and whisk it to make a smooth batter.
Color the mixture with ½ teaspoon of pandan paste. This pandan paste also acts as a flavor and fragrance agent. Because it contains the pandan leaf extract, as the name says.
After that, boil 400 ml/ 13.53 fl oz of water in a large pan. When it reaches boiling point, stir the water into the green flour mixture. Then, put the mixture back into the pan/ pot and continue cooking until the mixture gets thick and very sticky.
It can be hard stirring it as it gets thicker and thicker. But keep cooking until it’s bubbling hot, which is a sign it’s boiling.
Prepare a big bowl and place cold water with some ice cubes.
Take your cendol maker/ potato ricer. Spoon the cooked cendol mixture and put it in the cendol maker/ potato ricer. Hold it over the iced water bowl, and press the maker/ ricer until the Cendol comes out and falls into the iced water. Keep pressing until all the mixture has finished.
Secondly, you make the sugar syrup by boiling1 ¾ cup/ 300 gr/ 10.58 oz palm sugar (which is also called coconut sugar or jaggery) with ¾ cup + 2 tbsp/ 200 ml/ 7.04 fl. oz water and pandan leaf. Cook until the sugar is boiling and becomes slightly sticky and syrupy. Set aside to cool.
Thirdly, boil and simmer 1 ⅔ cup/ 400 ml/ 13.53 fl. oz coconut milk with 1 ¼ cup/ 300 ml/ 10.14 fl. oz water and pandan leaf until the milk looks shiny and fragrant. Let it cool.
Lastly, assemble the Cendol in a tall glass by putting the sugar syrup, the cendol, and coconut milk, respectively. Add some ice cubes if you like.
Top tips to make the yummiest Cendol
- Be patient in stirring the mixture. Make sure you scrap the bottom of the pan so it won’t get burned. And keep the heat low.
- The bigger the holes in your Cendol mold, the better. So, if you use the potato ricer, use the one with the biggest hole.
- If you want to keep this dessert for another day, keep the jellies separate from the sugar and coconut milk. Put all three items in separate food containers. They keep well in the fridge/ refrigerator for 4-5 days.
More Indonesian sweet recipes
And thank you for reading the post. I hope you’re now interested in trying this Cendol recipe. When you do, I appreciate it if you could share what you think about the recipe.
Thank you and all the best.
Cendol: green rice flour jellies with palm sugar and coconut milk
- Mixing bowls.
- Cooking pan
- Wooden spoon
- Cendol maker, or
- Potato ricer.
For the cendol:
- 1 cup rice flour.
- 2 tablespoons tapioca flour.
- 2 ¾ cups + 1 tablespoon water.
- ½ teaspoon salt.
- ½ teaspoon pandan paste see the note.
For the syrup:
- 1 ¾ cups palm sugar/ coconut sugar/ jaggery see the note.
- ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons water.
- 1 ⅔ cups coconut milk.
- 1 ¼ cups water.
- Pandan leaf optional
- 3 cups ice cubes.
- 2 cups water. To
To make cendol:
- Place the rice flour, tapioca flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Give them a good stir.
- Pour about 300 ml/ 10.14 fl. oz of water into the flour mix and stir well until you get a smooth mixture. You can use a hand whisk or a handheld mixer or a handheld blender.
- Add the pandan paste to the mixture and mix again until you get a nice green flour mixture. Set aside.
- Get a large mixing bowl ready. Fill it with 2 cups/ 500 ml/ 17.59 fl.oz of cold water. And make sure your ice cubes are within easy reach and ready to use. Set aside.
- Boil the rest of the water (400 ml/ 13.53 fl. oz) in a cooking pan/ pot. Once it reaches boiling point, carefully pour it into the green flour mixture and stir it at the same time.
- Put the mixture back in the cooking pan and continue cooking at low heat.
- Keep stirring and mixing until the mixture reaches boiling point. It takes about 10 minutes when the mixture will become very thick and sticky like a wet dough. It’s ok.
- Once the rice flour is bubbling hot, quickly get your large bowl with water ready. Place the ice cubes in the water and get your cendol maker or potato ricer ready.
- Spoon the green gooey cendol mixture and put in the cendol maker/ potato ricer.
- Hold the cendol maker/ potato ricer above the ice water bowl. And press the cendol maker/ potato ricer down until you see the Cendol coming out and falling into the iced water. Keep pressing until all the mixture has finished. Set aside.
To make the syrup:
- Boil the sugar, ¾ cup/ 200 ml of water and ⅓ pandan leaf in a small cooking pan/ pot until the sugar dissolves and becomes slightly sticky.
- In another pan, boil the coconut milk with one and ¼ cup/ 300 ml water and a 15 cm length of pandan leaf (if using). When it reaches boiling point, let it simmer for about 3 minutes before you switch the heat off.
To assemble the cendol drink:
- Take a tall glass and put about 3-4 tablespoons of sugar syrup in the glass.
- Using a slotted spoon scoop the cendol and place it in the glass.
- Add 2-3 big spoons of coconut milk over the cendol.
- You can add ice cubes if you like.
- If you can’t get pandan paste, you can use pandan extract for the flavoring and use ordinary green food coloring. Note that Cendol always has pandan fragrance. So I’m afraid you will have to get either pandan paste or pandan extract.
- Ideally, you use palm sugar/ coconut sugar/ jaggery. But if you can’t get it, you can substitute it with dark muscovado sugar or dark soft brown sugar.
Nutritional info in this recipe is only estimate using online calculator. You should refer to it as a guide only. Please verify with your own data if you seek an accurate info.