December 8, 2012

Chendol and the famous 1950's Glasses in Sibu

The town of Sibu is as Chinese as any other town in Malaysia. It was probably settled as long ago by the Chinese in 1862 -1880. According to various sources, there were Melanau and Malay villages on both sides of the Igan river before the Brooke Government built Kubu Brooke and a few other buildings by 1862. There was probably two or three lots of Chinese wooden shops. The Foochows only arrived in 1903.

When did chendol arrive in Sibu? And how did Chendol come to be the First Dessert of the Town ?

That's an interesting culinary history of Sibu and we need to find out more. The word chendol is popularly believed in Indonesia to have derived from the word jendol; in JavaneseSundanese and Indonesian, it means "bump" or "bulge", in reference the sensation of drinking the green worm-like jelly (source : wikipedia.)

As long as I can remember the Hokkiens (or Ming Nang people) were the first to sell chendol on glasses like these

in the old bus station in the triangle made by  the shops facing Blacksmith Road , the Cross Road and all the shops along the same row as Lok Tian Yong. I have even forgotten the original name of that old road.

Some how the chendol in those days bought by the savings we made from our primary school pocket money seemed to taste better than anything else in the world.
Photo of Chendol from Wikipedia

Where have all those years gone to? I miss my childhood friends and the times we spent playing games and going to school together. I miss the few girls who went with me to have chendol whenever we saved enough money especially when we had extra English classes in the afternoon before the Primary Six Entrance Examination.

Nowadays chendol can be served in as many different ways as you can think of. In glasses, in bowls, with longans, and even with peaches. Ice shavings can be made from electric ice shavers or even a simple sharp blade slatted into a wooden block like in the olden days in Sibu. Ice blocks are still sold by ice manufacturers to the chendol vendors. Some shops make their own ice blocks like these:

This ice blocks photo was taken in Marudi a few years ago. Still able to find these store made iceblocks in Sarawak.

Photo from Google

Extra notes for you my dear readers....

Home made chendol

enough pandan leaves to "juice"  to make 2 cups + water

6tbps green peace flour
2 tbps rice flour

1. Prepare 2 cup of pandan juice

 To make the Chendol Jellies, pour the Pandanus Extract into a measuring jug and top up with water to make 2 cups (500 ml) of liquid. Add the green pea flour and rice flour. Stir well until free from lumps, then strain this mixture into a pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture boils and thickens, about 5 minutes.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and form the mixture into little strands (see note). If using a perforated ladle, hold it over a bowl of ice water and, working with a spoonful of mixture at a time, pass it through the holes in the ladle by pressing on the mixture with a spoon or rubber spatula. The mixture should pass through in little strands. Remember to work fairly quickly as you must shape the Chendol Jellies while the mixture is still very warm. Once it cools, it will set and become difficult to press through the ladle.

When you are homesick or a feeling a little down...there is nothing better than a bowl or glass of chendol,,,will lots of ice shavings, gula melaka and a few spoons of soft red beans....I wish our problems can ease away with each little spoon of chendol.

Photo courtesy of Lawrence Ding (Bintulu)

By the way, many Chinese call this lovely dessert Jank Luk (jank as in sauce...luk as in happy)

In Penang it is  煎蕊 (jian rui)

Hope we can meet one day again and have some chendol....


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