Thursday, 1 September 2011

Layered agar-agar

Hari Raya celebrations just started, and with it comes the inevitable and overly-indulgent feasting on lemang, rendang, lontong and kuih raya.  The major cooking spree starts the night before Raya, and the smells of spices and coconut wafting across from the neighbour's proves irresistible.

So, what to bring to my aunt's open house?  There's always a battalion of cousins ever-ready to eat, and more sedate aunts and uncles.  Hmmm.... with the hot weather, perhaps a nice cold agar-agar will do the trick - something to sooth and glide down easily after a fiery and rich repast.  Neither too rich nor heavy to handle.  Agar-agar brings back nostalgic memories of birthday parties when it was de riguer to have agar-agar in its translucent glory quivering on the table. 

It is Hari Raya afterall, so it's got to be green, and I think coconut and pandan flavours will go well.  This layered agar-agar takes some patience as you have to wait for each layer to harden slightly before adding the next layer.  But it's worth the time and effort and it looks quite pretty.

I used some fresh pandan leaves from the garden for flavouring and for the gorgeously light green colour.  Its natural this way, and feels healthier.  You can substitute with food colouring if you prefer.   Just remember that agar-agar needs loads of sugar, so if you're into healthier cooking like me, reduce the amount.  The recipe below has been adjusted to reduced-sugar already.

Pandan coconut agar-agar

Makes a tray of 10" x 8" (or find a mould which holds the total water volume)
Ingredients :
Coconut layer
1 packet agar-agar powder ( I use Jim Willie or Swallow brand)
800ml cold water (if you like it less firm, use 950ml water)
200gm sugar
1 packet powdered/instant coconut
Pinch of salt

Coloured layers - this makes 1 colour, so if you want 2 colours just multiply quantity by 2. 
I used 2 colours - green and red.
1 packet of agar-agar powder
800ml cold water
200gm sugar
pandan juice, or food colour, or use coloured agar-agar powder
1. Stir the instant coconut powder into the cold water, making sure there are no lumps.  Then add the agar-agar and sugar and bring the mixture to boil.  Add salt.  Sieve mixture and return to pot. Leave it on very low heat until ready for assembly.
2.  For the transparent layer, put all ingredient except food colour, into a pot and boil until dissolved. Sieve mixture and return to pot. Leave on very low heat or keep warm in double-boiler.
1. Measure about 400ml of transparent agar-agar and colour it in the colour you like. Leave it to harden slightly.  Once slightly firm, use a toothpick or fork to lightly poke holes onto the surface.  This will allow the next layer to 'stick' on top without sliding off.
2. The next layer will be approx 400ml of the coconut milk agar agar. Leave to harden slightly
Do the same alternating between the transparent layers and the coconut milk layer until all the agar agar have been used up.
3. Refrigerate for a couple of hours until thoroughly firm and chilled.  Serve chilled.
Enjoy....Selamat Hari Raya and happy Merdeka :)


  1. The agar is brown not green in the picture

  2. Hi MM thanks for the comment. Yes, the colour didn't show so well in the photo. Will improve on the photography skills :)


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