Some things in life are deviously simple. Devious, because they hide under the guise of something far more complex. Earlier this year, I had my first taste of and instantly became addicted to Cendol. Cendol is a traditional dessert in South East Asia and you will find heaps of variations in practically every street and home of Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand. Although it can be quite complex in some eateries, the most basic simple version is a bowl of shaved ice topped with worm like green noodles made from mung bean flour, salted coconut milk and gula melaka syrup. That's it! Ice, noodles, coconut milk and gula melaka syrup. The resulting taste explosion is so intense and joyful, that I for one have no words to describe it.
What is gula melaka you ask? Quite simply, it is palm sugar. Palm sugar is made from coconut palm or date palm. The date palm is also called jaggery and is rich and dark with an intense flavour. The coconut palm version is lighter, almost golden with a whiteness that dares to defy its caramel and butterscotch tones. It is this coconut palm that is called gula melaka. Cooking it in water will give you that sticky gula melaka syrup that forms the basis if a Cendol. Yes, deviously simple!
Although I have yet to make the green worm like noodles that enhance the Cendol eating experience, I also feel like they are omissible. To feed my Cendol craving all I need is shaved ice, gula melaka syrup and salted coconut milk. I have a dear little ice crusher at home that came all the way from Singapore on a ship. On particularly hot nights after the kids are in bed, Nick and I sneak into the garage. I know what you are thinking, but it is not like that. We crank up the ice shaver which makes an awful racket akin to your neighbour mowing the lawn. We shave enough ice to heap two bowls. Then we come back in the house and with big grins on our faces pour some gula melaka syrup and some salted coconut milk on the ice and hungrily slurp that icy goodness. Our instant Cendol has that effect on us.
GULA MELAKA SYRUP
adapted from Teage Ezard's recipe on SBS
Preparation Time - 10 minutes
Cooking Time - 20 minutes
Makes - 250ml
300g pure palm sugar, roughly chopped
grated rind of 1 orange
Place palm sugar, water and rind in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes till palm sugar melts. Stir to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the syrup is thick, sticky and turned a rich caramel in colour.
Store in an air tight container for unto two weeks in the fridge. (I stored it in an open jug in the fridge and it was just fine).
And the moment I first had Cendol was forever captured by Nick earlier this year. Read about my Cendol experience here. I thought adding this picture again will give you a visual of what I have been trying to describe in words in this post.
I love creating easy, vibrant, fresh, everyday recipes and taking gorgeous photos of the food I cook. I have been blogging for 15 years and I have also written a book with over 100 new recipes. If you make a recipe from the blog, Tag @cookrepublic on Instagram. I would love to see!
I am a professional blogger, food photographer and cookbook author based in Sydney, Australia. Cook Republic is a national award-winning blog. Here you will find hundreds of (triple-tested!) easy, delicious and family-friendly veg-lovin' recipes.
Gula Melaka is not palm sugar or date palm. Though they are made almost the same way. Gula melaka is from Malaysia. It is made by making several slits into the bud (flower) of a coconut tree and collecting the sap. Then, the sap is boiled until it thickens and darkens in color after which, in the traditional way, it is poured into bamboo tubes between 3-5 inches in length, and left to solidify to form cylindrical cake blocks. I know this because i had visited a gula melaka factory. When purchasing these sugars: Keep in mind that the names palm sugar and coconut sugar are often used interchangably in the web world, except for some who knows, even on package labels. That's why it's best, if you are looking for a specific type, go by the ingredients on the package rather than the title on the label. Hope this helps.
I was just searching for Frenchie stripes on Pinterest, for today's blog post, + I spied your sweet, little pitcher with the red stripes.
I must have one.
Can you please tell me where I might be able to find/order it?
I live in the U.S.
TY, in advance!
I just came across your page while i was serching gula meleka and its health benefit. I hope i can use it like Canadian maple syrup.
I love the simplicity of this syrup but I can see so many uses 🙂 I'd love to do some coconut/pandan hotcakes and smother it with this syrup.
I love the flavour of palm sugar it is so much nicer than our refined white sugar. I bet this is delicious in all sorts of things. What is salted coconut milk? GG
Love the photos here... They are just so simple and elegant 🙂
I cant even think of anything that I wouldnt slather with this haha
lol, you crack me up!
Oh wooow your photos are absolutely STUNNING!! I'm so glad I've come across your blog. Being Malaysian myself, Cendol is really one of my favourite desserts of all-time! It makes me happy each time I have it. I'm glad you discovered the dessert and also shared this Gula Melaka recipe. There's really nothing like it and all the best with your attempt to recreating the entire dessert with the pandan mung bean noodles!!!
The palm sugar syrup sounds delicious.
I've never heard of Cendol, have to check it out.
Oh, gorgeous picture, by the way!
This is so simply wonderful. The sound of salted coconut milk and this syrup sounds to die for. I've never heard of that combination, and yet it just makes perfect sense.
This would be a great use for all the palm sugar we have at home, too, that we only use for certain marinades and stir-fries. Thanks for teaching me something new 🙂
this sounds and looks so incredibly good... thanks for sharing sneh! are the noodles called anything in particular?
We are just getting coconut and palm sugar over here and I really love the caramel undertones, I've been using it in everything.
Clicked in here from Nags' and i am a happy soul. All kinds of jaggery and molasses make all my body cells smile 🙂
Is this form of syrup molasses of date or coconut sugar or a syrup made with palm jaggery? I have some date jaggery and palm jaggery both in my pantry and would like to experiment with crushed ice as you suggested.
definitely not date jaggery, palm jaggery (lighter than date) might work, but what you are after for this recipe is the coconut palm sugar really. I hope I am making sense 🙂 I have only found the palm sugar (made from coconut palm) at Asian supermarkets and one regular supermarket.
Oh..this is something I would like for my pancakes tomorrow! Love the idea of transforming Palm sugar into a syrup.