Jakarta Street Food: Es Cincau (“Grass Jelly”)


This is a refreshing snack for a hot day.  You can see the ice is already almost melted by the time the syrup has been poured on.

I’ve never tried what they call “grass jelly” at a Chinese restaurant, only at traditional-style Indonesian ones.  However the idea for this dessert is said to have come from China and spread throughout SE Asia all the way to Indonesia.  The fact they call it ‘grass jelly’ makes me wonder whether it’s really the same thing.  Because in Indonesia they use tree leaves to make it.

Here is the tree where the leaves come from:

cincau tree

And here are the leaves being processed to make the jelly:

Making cincau

I can’t think of any Western food that is made with tree leaves, except maybe those Greek snacks that are rolled in grape leaves – and grape vines don’t qualify as trees.  But in Indonesia there are quite a few.

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