Thursday, 23 January 2014

Chendol and Ice Kachang

Among my favourite local desserts in Singapore are Chendol and Ice Kachang. The two are vaguely similar. 

For my Canadian friends you can try these 2 desserts in Richmond Public Market in Vancouver. 

Chendol is a dessert though you might call it a drink if it was served in a tall glass. The dish consists essentially of shaved ice, boiled sweetened red beans, worm-like green jelly "noodles" made from rice flour and pandan flavouring (from an aromatic leaf), fresh coconut milk and gula melaka (palm sugar). To this can be added a number of other ingredients, the most common being atapchi (immature fruit of the Nipah Palm). 

In a Chendol I had recently there was also tapioca balls (as is served in Bubble Tea), grass jelly and slivers of Jack Fruit.  

Red beans are said to be a Singapore and Malaysian addition and not included in the Indonesian dish. 

There seems to be some debate as to the origins of Chendol. A popular belief is that it originated from Indonesia and the name comes from the word "jendol" which means "bulge" or "bump" referring to the little green worm shaped jelly noodles. (I see Chendol is also the genus of a spineless eel which is native to South East Asia!). It is a popular dessert in Singapore, the Malaysian peninsular, Vietnam, Thailand and Mayanmar.

Ice Kachang on the other hand is basically the same but without the dominant coconut milk. It is always served in a bowl (never in a glass), drizzled with green pandan flavoured and red rose flavoured syrup and evaporated milk.
Must-have additions include creamed corn, jelly cubes and atapchi. It is thought to have originated in Malaysia but is popular all over South East Asia. As you eat, it all melts into a wonderful refreshing slurpee.

Traditionally the shaved ice was churned out by hand in a special machine. This dessert (like Chendol) used to only be served in roadside stalls and hawker centres, it has now taken it's place on the menus of cafes in international hotels.  

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Cafe Sketching

Cafes are the ideal place to sketch especially over coffee and something nice to eat. Here are a few of my favourite cafe sketches done in the last few months in Singapore. 

Pique Nique in the JCube Mall in Jurong East in Singapore was particularly well patronized the day after the Jem Mall next door was closed due to a collapsed ceiling in one area. This was caused by an accumulation of water after an unusually wet spell. 

They sell good coffee and particularly nice macarons. These little treats have really taken off (I think) world-wide. A macaron is composed of two almond meringue discs filled with a layer of buttercream or jam. (Not to be confused with macaroons). The coffee at Pique Nique came with a face of a Mandarin drawn in the foam. 

The table we sat at on another occasion at the same cafe allowed us to watch people waiting to catch the shuttle bus to the nearby IMM Mall (Singapore is a city of malls). Unfortunately the people in line were just a little too close for comfort. 

Dimbulah is a cafe in Raffles Place, the business district of Singapore. Named after the town of Dimbulah in North Queensland, Australia and catering mainly to the expatriate community who work in the area, they sell meat pies, sub sandwiches, Lamingtons (see below for what these are), muffins and cakes. My Australian husband just had to have their last Big Aussie Toastie! 

A Lamington is a cake of Australian and New Zealand origin. It consists of 2 squares of sponge cake sandwiched with cream and coated in chocolate icing and then dessicated coconut. A strawberry version is also popular. Commonly sold in bakeries and often used as fund raisers for schools in Australia and New Zealand, it is unusual to find them for sale in upmarket cafes.