Curious about Cendol Bakar?

In Johor, we are familiar with kelapa bakar where whole coconuts are baked in a charcoal fire and served warm.

Joining the queue for a taste of Cendol Bakar
at Teluk Kemang, Port Dickson
Fans delight in the taste of baked coconut water, sometimes flavoured with a hint of freshly squeezed lime or a spoonful of honey.  And the baked flesh tastes deliciously soft and smooth.

On a recent retreat in Port Dickson, my friends and I passed a stall in Teluk Kemang that had a sign that read: Cendol Bakar and we were intrigued.  Speculation was rife about how this cendol should taste like if it was made with baked coconut.  It appeared that most of us automatically thought that cendol bakar might be made from kelapa bakar.  Someone suggested that if they use the santan or coconut milk from baked coconut, then the taste would be spectacular!

Vendor serving customers who ordered takeaways
Our retreat programme ended with lunch on the final day and very soon, we were packed and ready to leave.  With a common thought of cendol bakar in mind, my friends and I agreed to stop for a taste of this intriguing dessert before going home.  So we headed out in a convoy of four cars, eager to unravel the mysterious taste of cendol bakar once and forever!

Up to the time we found our parking spaces and joined the queue to place our orders, our minds were working overtime, still curious and guessing the ingredients that went into the unique recipe for this delicious dessert.  The sight of that crowd occupying the tables and the queue ahead of us waiting to place orders, spurred the anticipation further and we were simply bursting with curiosity!

They use a systematic self-service way to keep
customers happy
Now the cendol connoisseurs among us know very well what the ingredients are: shaved ice, palm sugar or Gula Melaka, small green worm-like jelly made from flour and the option to add red beans, if preferred.  While our order-taker/giver volunteer stood in the queue waiting for our turn, the other so-called cendol experts went for a closer look at the vendors who were busy assembling the ingredients in small bowls to be served or for takeaways.

After observing the vendors for a few minutes, they conferred among themselves that it looked like typical cendol-making ingredients with no extraordinary item like baked coconut…  Still quite unbelieving, we continued to observe the vendors who were systematically serving the customers in the queue and finally decided that no baked coconut was involved in the recipe!

Add a dollop of glutinous rice flavoured with durian!
The cendol fans studied the menu posted on the wall and made their selections – some picked original recipe cendol, another with durian pulut or glutinous rice and others chose cendol with red bean topping.  
By this time, we were laughing at each other and our weird speculations that turned out all wrong because nothing seemed to be baked (bakar!) because the Cendol Bakar was actually a brand, named after a man by the Malay name, Bakar!

From the signboard, I realized that the Teluk Kemang outlet is a branch of the original shop in Kuala Selangor that has other outlets in Malacca and Dengkil.  From my research, I discovered that this brand of cendol is so popular that they also have a drive-through facility in Kuala Selangor!

Palm sugar or Gula Melaka at Cendol Bakar is "baked" before being melted to be used as an ingredient!
A generous scoop of coconut milk is added to each bowl before being served
Mmm...Cendol Bakar!
We were not too far from wrong when we guessed that their coconut was baked (bakar) because to achieve that unique taste of Cendol Bakar, one of their ingredients (not coconut!), is in fact, baked!

Fans of cendol, familiar with the taste of palm sugar in cendol, can tell that the palm sugar used in Cendol Bakar is specially baked before being melted for use.  This unique process for the palm sugar and the name of the owner’s grandfather, Abu Bakar Saidin, are the reasons why their brand of cendol is named, Cendol Bakar.


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