Malaysian Ais Kacang (Shaved Ice or ABC) Sweet Dessert
As its name promises, Ais Kacang or Ice Kacang must have these two main ingredients — shaved ice and cooked sweetened red beans.
Otherwise, it is not Ais Kacang, “red bean ice,” a top Malaysian dessert served in the country.
Nothing quite hits the spot like a bowl of sweet-tasting finely shaved ice dessert in a hot and humid country like Malaysia.
The cold, cold, and pleasant dessert soothes the throat and cools down the body on a blazing hot day.
Over time, Ais Kacang is garnished with an assortment of toppings aside from the basic red beans.
Generously drizzled in syrup, this Malaysian mix ice dessert is incredibly popular with visitors and residents.
Malay Version ABC – Ais Batu Campur
Ais Kacang is also called the ABC — Ais Batu Campur (Malay for mixed shaved ice), denoting the mixture of ingredients and toppings.
The word “air Batu” means ice, and “campur” means mixed.
The word Kacang is a Malay word for a bean.
The word “ais” is a transliteration of the English term “ice.”
ABC is a Malay dessert with fresh fruit toppings and extra toppings of ice cream.
The sweet-tasting ice dessert is served with flavored Rose and Sarsi Syrup.
The quintessential Malaysian dessert, Ais Kacang, cools parched throats and sweetens the day!
History of Ais Kacang
The Malaysian Ais Kacang was based on the shaved ice dessert in Japan.
Initially, the dessert was made with two simple ingredients: shaved ice and red beans.
As the dessert evolved, modern recipes used various ingredients.
Today, Ais Kacang comes in bright colors with different ingredients and is customized d based on your preference.
It has come a long way since it was first introduced in Malaysia.
Early versions of Ais Kacang were first known to have been prepared since the 1900s.
After the First World War, where ice manufacturing was becoming more affordable.
Initially, the ice was shaving by pushing a small block of ice over a blade.
Later, the shaved ice was made by a hand-cranked ice machine operated manually by the vendor.
Enjoying a cool bowl of Ais Kacang used to be an experience in itself.
From the sounds of the spinning of the ice-shaver rotated by hand to the pouring of colourful syrups on the mountain of ice collected.
Nowadays, most stalls use a convenient, motorized device to shave ice.
Where to find Ais Kacang in Malaysia?
The popular Malaysian Ais Kacang is made from shaved ice, paired with syrups, seaweed jelly, and was sold mainly by street vendors.
It is a typical dessert found at roadside stalls, kopitiam, hawker centers, food courts, and restaurants.
You can likewise find this Shaved Ice dessert at hotel buffets.
Ais Kacang is a cheap, sweet, and refreshing dessert best consumed during hot, sunny days in Malaysia.
How to Make Ais Kacang at home?
Ais Kacang is a great thirst quencher and lovely dessert alternative to frozen yogurt, ice cream, or sorbet.
Shaved ice has become increasingly popular in the United States, with Chinese (Taiwanese) dessert shops sprouting Chinatown or Asian suburbs.
Make it yourself at home with a medley of toppings! Try it out and see!
Ais Kacang Recipe
YIELD: 4 PEOPLE
PREP TIME: 20 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 20 minutes
2 cups ice cubes or crushed ice
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup water
3 drops red coloring, optional
2 tablespoons condensed milk or evaporated milk
2 tablespoons canned red beans, in kernels
2 tablespoons canned cream-style sweet corn
2 tablespoons grass jelly pieces
Attap Chee, Attap palm seed, optional (found in Asian Markets)
Vanilla ice cream
Add all the ingredients to the syrup in a small saucepan.
Heat it over medium heat.
As soon as the sugar melts and the syrup starts to bubble, turn off the heat.
Set aside and let cool.
Prepare the shaved ice by using a blender.
Make sure the ice is completely shaved.
Transfer the shaved ice to a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of syrup, followed by all the ingredients in the toppings.
The syrup is enough for two servings of Ice Kacang.
Melaka Ais Kacang
Different versions of Ais Kacang are available in the various states of Malaysia.
However, the Melaka version boasts a secret weapon – its superior, Gula Melaka.
Gula Melaka is derived from coconut palm.
The taste is very different from mere brown sugar.
Gula Melaka is smokier than saccharine sweet.
It has a caramel and toffee edge that is well-rounded and addictive.
Imagine that a heaping spoonful or two of that syrup on a colourful mount of ice on a blisteringly hot day!
In Melaka, Ming Chong Hygienic Ice Café may come across as any other hole-in-the-wall eatery on the street once infamously known as gangster’s paradise.
Here you will see the 70 years old cast-iron contraption where rough blocks of hewn ice are shaven into wafer-thin flakes for Min Chong’s icy goodness.
The local dessert is well-loved by locals and dignitaries alike.
If you want to visit Melaka, check out are the hotels nearby historical eating outlets on booking.com.
Ais Kacang in Penang – Ice Ball
On this scorching hot afternoon, you would probably want to get your hands on this old-school iceball to quench the thirst and cool off.
Cold and sweet taste, surprisingly it only costs RM1 per ball with some red beans beneath.
Feeling not satisfied enough, I ordered a bowl of ABC, a famous Malaysian street dessert that is truly satisfying.
The signature Penang Ais Kacang is made up of a snowy ball of finely shaved ice.
It is placed in a bowl and drizzled with rose syrup (a sweet red syrup) and evaporated milk.
The ice ball version of Ais Kacang is an earlier variant of the dessert, popular during the 1950s until the 1960s.
It is no longer sold in other places except Penang.
Penang Ais Kacang toppings are cooked red beans and creamed corn.
Dollops of sweetened chewy palm seeds called Attap Chee (Nipah Palm seeds) take center stage before the colorful concoction is served.
To enjoy the incredible icy sweetness of the dessert, dig right in and mix it all.
That way, the condiments, and toppings are mixed into the ice to give it a unique mix of tastes.
The creamed corn gives the particularly sweet mixture a tinge of saltiness.
And the evaporated milk adds a tad of richness to it all.
Ais Kacang Special @ Kek Seng Coffee Shop, Penang
Kek Seng Coffee Shop in Penang has an Ais Kacang Special that can’t be found anywhere else.
The Penang Kopitiam serves the Ais Kacang Special with the usual toppings.
The unique topping includes a multi-colored jelly and a choice of two scoops of different flavored ice cream, including their homemade durian ice cream.
Penang Hill Lily Ice Kacang
When it takes to opulence, Penang Hill Lily Ice Kacang takes the Malaysian Ais Kacang and ABC to the top.
The creations here are mind-blowing with the endless choice of toppings of fresh fruits.
You can customize your bowl of ABC with strawberries, mango, fresh cream, and chocolate sauce.
Some of the sets are huge and meant for sharing.
If you’re stumped for choice, there are “samples” of the desserts on display that you can point to select.
Ais Kacang Ingredients
The modern-day Ais Kacang has evolved as hawkers experiment with different ingredients and toppings.
Ais Kacang is mixed with various ingredients to enhance its flavors.
The numerous toppings are
- Cooked Red Beans
- Grass Jelly (Leong Fun)
- Dried Nutmeg Slivers
- Creamed Sweet Corn
- “Cendol” – worm-like jelly strands made from green pea flour and scented with pandan leaf.
- Basil Seeds
- Attap Chee (Palm Seed)
Over the years, the number and diversity of ingredients have since expanded to include
- Multi-colored Jelly Cubes
- Various Canned Fruit Cocktail
- Tapioca Pearls
- Ice Cream
- Toasted Peanuts
Some stalls allow their customers to add an assortment of sliced fruits.
Some of the fruits range from jackfruit to mangoes.
For added creaminess and a rich flavor, a scoop or two of vanilla or peanut butter ice cream.
Other less common elements include aloe vera, cendol, nata de coco, and ice cream.
Some stalls have even introduced interesting novelty toppings, such as durian.
Traditional Heavy Syrup Used to sweeten Ais Kacang
• Red Rose flavored syrup
• Sarsii flavored Brown Syrup
• Gula Melaka (palm sugar Syrup)
Some versions shun the multi-colored syrup and are served instead with a drizzle of red rose syrup and Sarsi brown syrup.
Others have sweet multi-colored syrup, pandan syrup, chocolate syrup.
A final topping of evaporated milk, condensed milk, or coconut milk is drizzled over the Ais Kacang ice mountain.
Some stalls use a milk mixture, condensed milk in place of the evaporated milk.
The Nyonya version uses a concentrated brown sugar syrup, “Gula Melaka,” drizzled with coconut milk.
Ais Kacang Stalls in Malaysia
If you’re visiting George Town, you individual dessert bowls of good Ais Kacang, served the traditional way or modern modifications.
Penang Road Famous Ais Kacang stall
Lebuh Keng Kwee
Time: 11.00 am – 07.00 pm
Kek Seng Coffee Shop
Time: 09.00 am -05.00 pm
New World Park food court, Swatow Lane
Time: 11.00 am – 06.00 pm
Kafe Heng Huat
108, Lorong Selamat, 10400 George Town, Penang
Time: 11.00 am – 06.00pm
Medan Selera Padang Brown
Jalan Perak, 10400 George Town, Penang
Time: 05.30 pm – 08.00 pm
Noor Ais Kacang Gerai No. 30
Astaka Selera Stadium
210A, Lilitan Stadium, 10460 George Town, Penang
Time: 11.00 am-11.00 pm
Lily Penang Hill Ice Kacang
Penang Hill, Bukit Bendera, Penang
Time:10.30 am – 07.00 pm
Café Kow Po (Kedai Kopi Kow Po)
2, Lorong Utama Bentong Height 4, 28700 Bentong, Pahang
Time: 11.00 am to 06.30 pm
TAK Ice Cream Corner 陈雪糕店
89, Jalan Chui Yin, 28700 Bentong, Pahang
Time: 11.00 am to 06.00 pm
Happy Ice Stall
648 Jalan Raja Muda Aulong 34000 Taiping, Perak
Time: 12.30 pm – 05.30 pm
Fatty Loong ABC Ice Kacang
Kepong Baru, 52100 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur
Time: 9.00 am – 05.00 pm
Ah Keong’s ABC & Ice Cendol Stall
21A, Jalan Padang Belia, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur
Time: 8.30 am – 04.00 pm
Happy Land Cafe – Ice Kacang / ABC
1-38 Jalan Pinang, Taman Kota Kulai, Kulai, 81000, Johor Bahru, Johor
Time: 11:00 am—04:30 pm
How many calories per serving of Ais Kacang?
This recipe is only 126 calories per serving and is perfect on Malaysia’s hot, humid day.
In Conclusion: Popularity of Ais Kacang
Ais Kacang is Malaysia’s special dessert, with its popularity in Asia.
The dessert is highlighted in many travel and food blogs about Malaysia.
The balmy tropical weather in Malaysia makes every day a perfect time for Ais Kacang, so if you come across a stall, try it out for a sweet cool treat.
The sweet taste of a full bowl of colorful Ais Kacang is still a favorite of locals and tourists alike.