This simple yet delicious local dessert has captured the hearts of many all over the country.
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Nothing quenches thirst like a refreshing bowl of cendol on a hot sunny day. The feel of ice shavings combined with creamy coconut milk and the sweetness of the palm sugar all melting into the ice slowly going down the parched throat is akin to being in heaven. This homegrown delicacy can be found anywhere in any state in Malaysia and has spawned a few variants over the years.
A normal serving of cendol will have shavings of ice and scoops of diluted coconut milk with bits of cooked dough dyed green in colour. It is made by pressing kneaded and coloured dough through a metal mould resembling a shredder into a bowl of water. These little noodle-like pieces of dough are then put into a pot of boiling water and cooked for a short while till fully cooked. Some traders mix these little pieces of dough into diluted coconut milk whereas others keep it aside on its own. The usual condiments that comes with a bowl of cendol are red beans and grass jelly. Depending on the location, it is not unusual to find glutinous rice, creamed corn and other types of jelly added into the dessert. It is then topped off with a generous drizzle of palm sugar to give it its signature sweetness.
Over time, creative businessmen have found ways of spicing up this seemingly ordinary dessert by adding and combining it with other ingredients. Imaginative traders have added additional items like ice cream or other titbits like sago or different types of jelly. There are others who would combine the cendol with another local delicacy known as ABC, an abbreviation of Air Batu Campur, which literally means mixed ice. This dessert has also been converted into an ice cream flavour as well. One of the more successful 'mergers' created is the durian cendol. This winning combination sees the inclusion of the sweet flesh from the king of fruits into the mixture. Together with the aroma and taste of the palm sugar, it gives this sweet concoction a somewhat bitter edge, making it just perfect when it hits the tongue. The creaminess of the durian flesh goes down smoothly with the rest of the dessert. Though some other businesses may replace the fruit with its extract instead, nothing beats having the real thing.
While the durian cendol is more commonly found in Malacca, the most famous cendol is located near Chowrasta in the city of Georgetown, Penang. The stall selling the cendol is so famous that it has been featured in many newspaper and magazine articles, as well as television programs. Many visitors to Penang make it a point to drop by to this stall for a taste of this interesting dessert.