It's the first day of Ramadan over here, and I decided to break the ice cream posts somewhat because well, monotony is boring. And if, like me and many others worldwide, you're fasting for 12-13 hours a day under the scorching sun (okay, more realistically in the house or in an airconditioned building somewhere), the dehydrated mind becomes a bit dull and needs to be stimulated with variety. By that, I mean food-wise. Let's face it, for a huge chunk of the day, that's all the person abstaining from food thinks about - food. And drink. And all the other lovely goodies they get to eat when it's time to break the fast, or iftar. I'm not generalising about everyone else here, that was me thinking about myself, quite indiscreetly. God, this is only Day 1...
Anyway, did I ever tell you how happy it always makes me feel when a stranger lands on this blog for the first time and leaves a comment? And how happier I am when I go to check the other person's blog out and find that there's a recipe (or two) I immediately want to try? Well, that just happened to me again yesterday when a lovely Burmese lady who owns a blog by the delicious name of Best Oodles came by. When I returned the courtesy, I was immediately inspired by her ethereal-looking rose jelly made from agar agar powder. Hey, that was something I could make that was pink and different and lovely and best of all, easy!
My agar brand of choice
Throughout most of Asia, agar agar desserts are eaten all the time, with astounding variations on how the jelly is constructed. The end result is only as far as your creativity dictates it. I liken it to the practice of architecture suspended in jello! Now, I'm not good at doing the 'advanced' agar dessert just yet, but this rose jelly looked well within my capability. I wasn't sure what agar agar powder she actually used but I stuck to my usual, called Rose Brand. The only weird thing was that I halved her liquid measurements but still ended up making the same amount of individual servings (7). Could it be a mold thing?
To create the pink color, I used rose syrup (not rose water), which is a rose-flavored red cordial. The coconut milk added a rich texture to the dessert and separated out as the agar firmed up so I ended up with a pretty, two-layered dessert. This recipe makes for a slightly softer than normal jelly so be extra gentle when unmolding to prevent breakage. Otherwise, add another teaspoon of agar powder to the recipe for a firmer texture.
Looking at these soft, pink desserts gave me the simplest pleasure like I cannot describe. Thank you, Best Oodles, you've made my day!
Now this song is a bit random, but I so enjoy this one by surfer dude, Jack Johnson. If I were stranded on a deserted island and my iPod had run out of power, I'd really like to have this guy and his guitar around. Listen to him and you'll see what I mean :-).
(Adapted from Best Oodles)
Makes: 7 cupcake-sized desserts
1 cup water
2 teaspoons agar agar powder (I used Rose Brand Finest Agar Agar Powder)
1/2 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons rose syrup
1. Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan, heat on medium high heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a rolling boil for 30 seconds.
2. Remove from the heat, let it cool down for 15 minutes. Strain and pour into 7 cupcake-sized molds. Let it cool down naturally at room temperature or chill in the refrigerator for quicker setting of agar.
3. Turn out from molds by loosening the sides and tapping the agar free onto a plate. Serve immediately.