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Es Cendol (Green Rice Flour Jelly Drink)

Posting Date: 04/16/17

Es Cendol (Green Rice Flour Jelly Drink)

Es Cendol (Green Rice Flour Jelly Drink) is a popular drink in Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries, such as Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam. By Western standard, it is considered as a dessert rather than a drink because it tastes sweet. However, in Southeast Asian countries it is a drink because it is served with ice cubes or shaved ice and thus, it is good as a drink to cool people down during hot and humid days. You can serve es cendol as dessert and thus, introducing and impressing your guests to dessert they have never had before. Es means ice. The green rice flour jelly itself is called cendol. It is made using rice flour and tapioca flour or starch and shaped like a worm. The green color comes from pandan leaves. The texture is like jelly but it is softer than regular jelly and not bouncy. Es cendol is served with cendol mixed with palm sugar syrup and coconut milk. Thus, it tastes sweet from the palm sugar and rich from the coconut milk. Es cendol is normally sold by street vendors but it can also be found in restaurants and food courts.

Traditionally, cendol is made by passing the cendol dough mixture in a cendol strainer and thus, it has the shape of worms. At home, people make it using a colander that has round holes so that it can have worm shape. My colander doesn't have round holes. So, I improvised and tried to make it in 2 different ways. The first one was to use Al muffin tin and poke holes using satay skewer. This accomplished the goal. However, it was slow process because the dough had to be pushed and squeezed out through the holes. The second way was to use ziploc bag and cut a hole on one of the bottom corner of the bag. The intention was to make a piping bag without the frosting tip since I don't own both piping bag and small round frosting tip. I like the second way better. It is faster and I have more control on the length of cendol. If you have piping bag or pastry bag with small frosting tip, you can use them instead of ziploc bag. The diameter of the frosting tip should not be too big that it is hard to maintain the shape but it should not be too small since you want to be able to bite through it. So, 3 mm is about the right size.

As mentioned previously, the green color of cendol comes from pandan leaves. Since it is hard to find pandan leaves in my Asian stores, I use pandan essence or paste. If you cannot find it, you can use green food coloring. However, pandan essence has the distinct pandan aroma and flavor, and thus, please use it if you can find it because it adds depth of flavor. If you are not familiar with palm sugar and wondering where you can get it, you can find it in Asian stores. The most difficult part of making cendol is to determine the right consistency of cendol mixture. The mixture is made of rice flour, tapioca flour, water, and pandan essence. This mixture is heat up until it becomes thick. If you don't remove enough water, the end result of cendol will be too watery and not hold the shape after you cool it down in ice bath. In general, the mixture is done when it looks shiny and very thick. If it still look like toothpaste, it is not ready yet.

This recipe serves 2 people.


  • For cendol: 15 g tapioca starch or flour
  • For cendol: 50 g rice flour
  • For cendol: 350 ml water
  • For cendol: 5 drops pandan essence or paste, mixed with 4 tablespoons water. Make sure you stir the mixture to get uniform color. If you cannot find pandan essence, you can substitute with green food coloring.
  • For ice bath: ice cubes
  • For palm sugar syrup: 250 ml water
  • For palm sugar syrup: 175 g palm sugar
  • For palm sugar syrup: pinch of salt
  • For coconut milk: 250 ml coconut milk
  • For coconut milk: pinch of salt
  • Optional: ice cubes or shaved ice


  1. Use non-stick pot so that it is easier to work with cendol mixture. Put rice flour, tapioca flour, water, and pandan essence-water mixture in a small non-stick pot. Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture so that there is no clump. Turn on the stove to medium high heat. Place the pot on the stove. Continue stirring the mixture with rubber spatula until it is boiling. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to low and continue stirring and folding the mixture to make sure the mixture on the bottom of the pot is not sticking and thus, burned. Once the mixture looks shiny, darker than the starting color, and thick, turn off the heat. The mixture consistency should be thicker than toothpaste and not liquid at all. If it still has liquid, cendol will not be able to hold its shape when it is cool.
  2. Let the cendol mixture in the pot to cool down for about 10 min. That way, it will not melt the ziplock bag.
  3. In the meantime, make an ice bath by adding ice cubes to a bath of cold water in a bowl.
  4. Put the cendol mixture in a ziplock bag. Seal the top of the bag. Cut the bottom corner of the bag so that it has about 3 mm opening. This opening determines the diameter of cendol. Push cendol mixture to the corner that has the opening, like when you use a pastry bag. Do not squeeze out the mixture of the opening yet.
  5. With the ice water bath about 2-3" below your bag and your hand, squeeze the mixture out of the opening, like when you are working with a pastry bag, and drop the mixture in the ice water bath to cool it and set the shape of cendol. The amount of time you squeeze out the mixture of the opening determines the length of cendol. You don't want cendol to be too short because you want to be able to taste it while eating it. So, I normally make it about 1.25" to 1.5" long. However, you can make it longer if you prefer. Repeat this step until the mixture has been used up. Let cendol to set in cold water for about 10 min.
  6. In the meantime, add palm sugar, water, and pinch of salt to a pot. Heat up the pot and let it boil until palm sugar completely dissolves. Turn off the heat and pour the palm sugar syrup in a jar and let it cool down in the fridge.
  7. Add coconut milk and pinch of salt to a pot. Heat the pot until coconut milk starts to boil. As soon as it is boiling, turn off the heat and remove the pot from the heat. Pour coconut milk in a jar and let it cool down in a fridge.
  8. Fish out cendol from ice water bath using slotted spoon. Drain as much water as possible. Place it on a bowl.
  9. To serve it, take about 5-7 tablespoons of palm sugar syrup to a glass, add half of cendol to the glass, and top it with about 5-7 tablespoons of coconut milk. You can add ice cubes or you can keep it in the fridge for at least 1.5 hour to chill it. Repeat this step for the other glass. Once it is chilled, using a spoon, stir it to mix palm sugar syrup with coconut milk. If you use shaved ice, place the shaved ice in a bowl. Top it with cendol, palm sugar syrup and coconut milk.

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