Malaysia Food Exploration: Cendol

Since my Thailand post indicating my suspicion of coconut milk desserts, and my subsequent retraction, I have happily been eating the odd dessert of this type here and there.

Cendol (pronounced “chendol”) is another such creation, though this time pushing me to the limit with the addition of beans.


As well as the red beans (which aren’t always present), there is shaved ice, coconut milk, green (normally pandan-flavoured) noodles and gula melaka (sugar from the palm tree) as a sweetener.

I had two bowls while in Penang. One quite enjoyable from a stall at the New World Park Food Court (Jalan Burma, George Town) and one less to my taste at the shiny Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendol shop on Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong (near Komtar).

I found the beans to be larger and more tender at New World, and the dessert as a whole was much sweeter. As I have learned, the amount of sugar (ie loads) is the crucial factor when it comes to my enjoyment of dishes of this nature. The amount of ice can also have an impact, as you need just enough to cool and complement the other ingredients without turning everything into a watery soup.

The dessert as a whole is very refreshing. The sweet iced coconut milk adds interest to the fairly bland beans and noodles, which for their part bring texture to the dish. H tried a few blended versions, but we agreed that the original concept was superior.

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