Es teler sits comfortably in the middle of a Venn diagram of “dessert” and “refreshing drink”: it's one of many similarly hard-to-classify (but wonderful to eat) sweets found throughout Asia. This Indonesian treat is served in a glass but is most often eaten with a spoon. Served throughout Indonesia—by street vendors and fancy restaurants alike—es teler is beloved for its cooling properties, and is often consumed “as an afternoon snack,” says Lara Lee, the author of the cookbook Coconut & Sambal. This dessert features young coconut meat; crunchy, jelly-like toddy palm seeds; creamy avocado; pleasantly fibrous jackfruit; and chewy tapioca. Look for pandan leaves in the freezer section of Asian grocery stores; their floral vanilla flavor makes the leftover syrup great in coffee or spooned over ice cream. For a shortcut, used canned young coconut meat and coconut water. A shaved ice machine makes easy work of the crushed ice.

Lara Lee
June 2021

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Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

active:
50 mins
total:
1 hr 20 mins
Servings:
4
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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Place 1 coconut on a cutting board. Using a butcher’s knife, slice away white outer husk along the pointy end to expose the hard brown shell underneath. Turn the coconut upright, and carefully hit the heel of the knife about 1 inch below the coconut’s pointy end. Rotate the coconut about 45 degrees, and continue hitting and rotating until the shell cracks. Pry open the top; pour coconut water through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a medium bowl, and reserve. Using a metal spoon, loosen and remove coconut meat from inside shell. Gently scrape off any brown fibrous shell attached to coconut meat. Thinly slice coconut meat into about 2- x 1/8-inch strips. Repeat with remaining coconut to yield about 1 1/2 cups coconut strips and 3 cups coconut water. Set aside.

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  • Combine 3/4 cup canned coconut milk, 1/2 cup cane sugar, pandan leaves, salt, and 1/2 cup reserved coconut water in a small saucepan. (Reserve remaining coconut water for another use.) Bring to a boil over medium, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring often, 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let syrup cool to room temperature, at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Remove and discard pandan leaves. Set syrup aside.

  • While pandan mixture cools, bring 3 cups water to a rolling boil in a medium saucepan over high. Add tapioca pearls to boiling water, and cook, stirring occasionally, until completely translucent. Drain, reserving 1 cup tapioca cooking liquid in a small bowl. Rinse tapioca pearls under cold water; drain. Add remaining 3 tablespoons cane sugar to reserved 1 cup hot tapioca cooking liquid in small bowl; stir to dissolve sugar. Add tapioca pearls to sugar water to prevent them from sticking together. Set aside. 

  • Arrange about 1/3 cup each avocado, jackfruit, toddy palm seeds, and coconut meat in 4 (12-ounce) serving glasses. Top each with 1/4 cup nata de coco; drizzle each with 2 tablespoons cocopandan syrup. (Reserve remaining cocopandan syrup for another use.) Pour 3 tablespoons canned coconut milk over each. Top each with 3/4 cup shaved ice; drizzle each with 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk. Top each dessert with 1 1/2 tablespoons drained tapioca pearls. Serve immediately. 

Make Ahead

Cocopandan syrup can be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 5 days. 

Note

Pandan leaves, tapioca pearls, coconut gel, fresh coconuts, canned young coconut meat, and toddy palm seeds can be found at grocerythai.com. Jackfruit in syrup can be found at foodsofnations.com, or find them at South Asian grocery stores in your community.

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