Sunday, 18 July 2010

The ABC of the Quintessential Malaysian Dessert - more Cultural Exchange

In this hot climate of ours there is no snow, nor will there ever will be. We do get hailstones some times but that is rare. What we do get though is rain. Lots of it. Torrential rain and thunderstorms. Then Kuala Lumpur floods. Traffic crawls. Trees get uprooted. Damage occurs. You get the idea.

But I digress. I started this post off to say that we don't get snow. Why snow? Because as a young lad, I remember reading books that talked about scooping out snow and covering it with maple syrup or honey - written by western authors no doubt.

Many countries and cultures have evolved to using shaved ice instead of snow and pouring syrup over it. We do that here too and we call it "Ice Balls". Better than that however is our very own dessert known as ABC - Air Batu Campur. Air Batu means Ice (Air is pronounced I-yay and means water while Batu is pronounced Bah-to and means stone) and Campur means to mix or mixture. The language has evolved and Air Batu is now commonly known as Ais (ice!) So the dessert is also commonly known as Ais Kacang (literally Ice with Nuts or Beans).

The dessert is usually made with Red Beans, Peanuts, Cincau (grass jelly), coloured jelly pieces (or shredded) and some cream corn. It is then covered with shaved ice to which coconut milk is poured on top and then covered with Gula Melaka and Red Syrup. Sometimes, instead of Coconut milk, evaporated milk is used. Sometimes too, the syrup used is only Gula Melaka or Red Syrup. Nowadays, the ingredients to Ais Kacang are wide and varied and include fruit cocktail in addition to the other ingredients. The options are really limitless. Some places like to place a scoop of ice cream over the ABC as well.

Both my kids love their Ais Kacang. The Lovely Wifes sister-in-law has an electric ice scraper that TLW borrowed to make home-made Ice Kacang. Although the home version of the ice scraper doesnt produce as fine a shaved ice, it does a pretty good job.

For the homemade version, TLW used Evaporated Milk rather than Coconut Milk - healthier although not quite as tasty. She made the gula melaka syrup by melting the solid gula melaka with a little water while the red syrup is simply coloured sugar syrup flavoured with some pandan leaves. She also made her own jelly by boiling agar-agar with pandan leaves and then adding in sugar and food colouring. The red-beans took a long time to soften and I had suggested that TLW just get canned beans isntead. The rest of the ingredients, like grass-jelly, peanuts and cream of corn, are easily available in the local stores.

Sometimes, the jelly is shredded and sometimes it is just cut into small cubes. For the first serving of the Ais Kacang, TLW shredded the jelly. Subsequent servings were just served with cut up jelly!

At least two types of Agar-agar (Jelly made from seaweed)
Cincau (Grass-Jelly)
Cream of Corn
Evaporated Milk
Gula Melaka
Red Syrup or Rose Syrup
Red Beans - boiled till soft
Lots of shaved Ice
Arrange the ingredients in the bottom of a bowl. Cover with shaved ice and then pour evaporated milk/coconut milk on top. Drizzle over Gula Melaka and Syrup.

Here's a little step by step pictorial for you to truly understand the composition of Ice Kacang.

1. Place all the ingredients in the bottom of a bowl. I usually like to put my cream corn in too but TLW and the kids like it on top. To each their own I guess!

2. Place the bowl under the ice scraper maching and fill up with ice shavings.

3. Pour over the evaporated milk (or coconut milk)

4. Then pour over the Gula Melaka...

5. ... and the Red Syrup

The dessert is then ready for the eating!!
Ice Kacang is a great dessert to end a meal with. More than that however, its a great treat to have at any time of the day. The only problem with Ice Kacang is that eaten too quickly, it can cause 'Brain Freeze' as my little princess found out!


Anh said...

I love this dessert! It's so cold here but I don't mind having one right now :)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Might not ever make it but now I will look for it on menus and order it when I find it. Looks excellent.

David T. Macknet said...

An interesting dish. What I love most is the picture of your daughter, though. Fabulous face she's making! Does she know that you took that picture and put it up on the internet? :)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I love this dessert too! It reminds me of trips to Singapore when I was little! :D

Elle said...

I'm not a fan of iced desserts...not even ice cream very much...but this sounds wonderful with the addition of the beans and jellies. Not so sure about the syrup...isn't it really sweet?
David is right, your daughter is going to kill you when she is 13 or 14 and friends find that photo on the 'net and show it to her. She really is so beautiful that hopefully she will just laugh it off.

Juliana said...

Oh! I love this kind of dessert and cannot have enough of it, specially during Summertime :-)


Blog Widget by LinkWithin