Forget Malaysia-Singapore food war over cendol because Indonesia has more of it

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 05 Dec 2018

The latest "food war" between Malaysia and Singapore to lay claim on cendol may be misplaced because Indonesia has more varieties of it.

This comes after CNN said that the shaved-iced dessert was a Singaporean treat.

However, the Jakarta Post reported that, Indonesian food expert William Wongso said, "Cendol is not only available in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, but also other South-East Asian countries, including Vietnam and Thailand."

CNN had named cendol as part of its "50 of the World’s Best Desserts" on Saturday (Dec 1).

This naturally upset Malaysians.

"Dear CNN, if Cendol is from Singapore, then Pasta is from Belgium, Tom Yam is from Vietnam and Dim Sum is from India," tweeted @SidLatif, signing off as "A Malaysian".

He added, "P/S: please note that we are deeply offended by your ignorance."

Another user, @IdrisMartin, tweeted, "@CNN, cendol is either Malaysian or Indonesian but it definitely isn’t Singaporean."

"Jen Rose Smith (the CNN writer) is forbidden from eating cendol unless she goes onto a rendang and rice diet for a year and only listens to M.Nasir and Anggun during that time. Sorry those are the rules."

CNN had written, "Versions of this blissfully cool dessert can be found throughout South-East Asia, but with the addition of a scoop of sweetened red beans, Singapore’s take on the classic treat remains especially tempting.”

William told the Jakarta Post that Indonesian cendol was different from Singaporean/Malaysian cendol.

"If you see the Singaporean or Malaysian version of cendol, you will discover a colourful bowl of dessert, comprising worm-like green jelly, sweetened red beans and, sometimes, sweet corn served with palm sugar and coconut milk," he explained.

However, Indonesian cendol is less colourful as it only comprises the green jelly, coconut milk and palm sugar.

“In Indonesia, cendol, also known as dawet in Java, only refers to the [pandan jelly served in coconut milk],” he said, saying that some may put pandanus leaves or jackfruit to add more aroma.

“In Singapore, the cendol is mixed with other [ingredients], like our es campur (mixed ice),” he told the Jakarta Post.

William added that there are many versions of cendol in Indonesia based on its place of origin.

“There is cendol Banjarnegara, es cendol Elizabeth [from Bandung] and even cendol ireng (black-colored cendol),” he explained.

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