Corner Café

November 12, 2008

Kuih Talam Cendul

Filed under: Kuih-Muih — SeaDragon @ 12:00 am
Tags: , ,


Last weekend, I decided to try making my own cendul (chendol) using Mrs Leong Yee Soo’s recipe from her cookbook. Since I have never made cendul before and never seen someone else made it before either, I followed the steps quite closely as specified in the book. However, there were a few problems. First of all the recipe stated 1 packet of mung bean starch, not giving us the weight for it. So I assumed it to be about 4 oz or 115g, after consulting some other recipes I’ve collected. Next, the batter was very thin and runny even though I followed the recipe closely, and when I poured the batter through my imitation ‘cendul frame’, which was actually a metal steamer with small round holes, the batter immediately dissolved into the iced water below. I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh as I watched my cendul droplets dissolved into a pool of green liquid below…
Having the learnt the lesson quickly, I stopped pouring any more batter through the frame and was at a loss of what to do next. So I cleaned up the mess and let the remaining batter cool in the pan. After about 30 minutes, I came back to it and was thinking about throwing the batter into the bin, but miracle of miracles, it has thickened in the meantime into half-set jelly. So I decided to try again, and poured the thickened batter through my makeshift frame again, and voila, the batter successfully set into droplets below in the iced water this time. However they did not form the typical short strains of cendul, instead just round little droplets.

My home-made cendul droplets.

The texure of the cendul was also too soft, with no bite to it at all. Although the texture did firm up slightly after refrigeration, as the cendul droplets exuded some excess liquid during that time. So I won’t publish the recipe for cendul in the meantime as I need to adjust the recipe for next time. Not wanting to waste my effort though, I used the cendul to make this Kuih Talam which thankfully turned out well.


Makes approx. 12 bite-size morsels

Bottom Layer:
45g rice flour
10g mung bean starch (hoen kwee flour)
120g palm sugar (gula melaka), chopped roughly
100ml water
150ml coconut milk *
1/4 teaspoon salt

Top Layer:
1/2 cup cendul
45g rice flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
300ml coconut milk *

* I used Kara brand UHT Natural Coconut Milk in tetra pak.
Prepare a 15cm round steaming tray or baking pan and grease lightly with cooking oil.

Bottom Layer:
1. In a small saucepan, dissolve palm sugar in water over low heat, then strain.
2. Heat the prepared pan in the steamer until hot.
3. Mix rice flour and mung bean starch in a mixing bowl. Slowly pour in coconut milk and sugar syrup, mix into a batter without any lumps. Put mixture in a saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring with a metal spoon until the bottom starts to thicken.
4. Pour the brown batter into the hot pan in the steamer and cover the steamer. Steam over moderate heat for about 15 minutes, or until set.

Top Layer:
1. Mix rice flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Slowly pour in coconut milk and mix into a batter without any lumps. Set aside this white batter.
2. When the brown bottom layer is almost done, pour the white batter into a saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring gently all the time to avoid any bubbles forming, until the bottom just starts to set. Remove from heat.
3. When the brown bottom layer is set, lightly scratch the surface with a fork. Then pour the white batter on top of the set brown layer. Scatter cendul evenly into the white batter. Cover the steamer and steam over moderate heat for about 15 minutes, or until set.
4. Remove pan from the steamer and let the kuih cool in the pan completely. Then remove the kuih from the pan and cut into bite-size morsels (square or diamond shapes) with a plastic knife. Serve at room temperature.


Texture: Sweet palm sugar flavoured bottom layer with a pandan marbled salty top layer
Consume: Best within 24 hours
Storage: Store, covered, at room temperature, or chill in the refrigerator in hot whether
Recipe References: ‘Nyonya Talam Kuih’ by Patsie Cheong from her cookbook, ‘Home-Made Nyonya’, and various Malay recipes on the net


  1. sd

    i made cendol sometime ago and i like the cendol like the indian hawkers in malaysia which is like bee tai bak – rice droplets. i can’t remember where the recipe is at the moment but remembered that i used rice flour and mung bean starch like your recipe for the brown layer.

    use a potato riser to press the cendol onto a bowl of ice water. the cendol does not keep and tt advised me to add in a little borax to the water.

    Comment by lily ng — November 12, 2008 @ 11:01 am | Reply

  2. Lily,
    Thanks for the tips 🙂

    Oh, didn’t think of potato ricer as I don’t have one, I was at first thinking of using my cookie press to make it, LOL. I added a little salt to the cendul and was able to keep it for a couple of days in the fridge.

    Do you know what’s the purpose of borax? Don’t think I dare to use it though.

    Comment by SeaDragon — November 14, 2008 @ 5:03 pm | Reply

  3. sd

    i don’t really know, perhaps tt has a more scientific explanation. Chinese has been using borax for the rice products. i have noticed the older recipes like in kuih lapis beras – 9 layered kuih and it seems the borax prevent the kuih from getting bad fast.

    i was told that something is put in to prevent the cendol from getting bad and it is common knowledge. i would not want to specify, cos it is hear say.

    the salt could be alright for nyonya cendol which is made with green pea flour but the cendol i made has more rice flour than green pea flour.

    Comment by lily ng — November 15, 2008 @ 5:14 am | Reply

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