A popular Asian dessert, this Mango and Coconut Jelly is refreshing & delicious, besides being VEGAN & Gluten-Free, thanks to the Agar agar!
Most of my childhood I listened to my grandmother’s stories of her life in Burma – my paternal family (despite being ethnic Indians) were from Burma, and migrated back to India after WWII. After my grandmother’s passing, my Dad took on the role as reminiscent story teller, albeit not as enthusiastically as my grandmother. But every now and then, he’d slip a story or two, and it was during these lapses that he mentioned eating a jelly dessert made of coconut milk in the summers.
What was so special about this dessert, you ask? Even though it was made with coconut milk, while setting, the dessert separated into two layers: a white layer made of just the coconut cream and a clear, transparent layer made of coconut water (much like how a can of coconut milk separates during storage).
I just couldn’t stop thinking of this magical dessert, and kept searching for it using the name my father used: chowk chow. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered the recipe for a Burmese Coconut Jelly (which looked a lot like the one my father described), and it was called Kywak Kyaw!
Long story short: yes, I made it, and it was quite magical, as advertised! I only wish my father had been alive to taste it, but that’s the way life goes.
But before I got my hands on the recipe for Kyaw Kyaw (or Chowk Chow), I went through a whole lot of Agar agar desserts, the first being this Mango and Coconut Jelly! If you want to taste true tropical delight (no, it’s not a Pina colada), you must, MUST taste this dessert.
Popular in Thailand, called natively as Woon Mamuang, this dessert is gelled with agar agar – a seaweed extract that works a lot like gelatin and bonus! – it’s VEGAN and Gluten-free!!! Learn all you need to know about Agar agar in this comprehensive post.
And unlike gelatin, Agar agar sets perfectly well at room temperature, making this dessert perfect for taking along on summer picnics! It won’t melt or disintegrate on a hot day and all you have to do is pop it on a bed of ice-cubes for a super-chill refreshing dessert!
The sharpness of the mango is slightly muted by the creaminess of the coconut milk – it’s an absolute pleasure to eat! Find the best mangoes, and use full-fat coconut milk – the best ingredients translate into an exceptional final result, as with all things in life!
You can find Agar agar in Asian and Indian stores (in Japanese stores, it’s called Kanten), as powder, flakes, strands or blocks. The recipe below gives measurements for the powder, but if you get any of the other forms, use this conversion chart for substitution quantities. And while measuring the strands or blocks, try to chop them up into bits and pack them tightly in the cup measure.
Oh and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice (if you happen to be working with particularly sweet batch of mangoes) can work a little magic into the flavor profile, so what you get isn’t a sickly sweet dessert, rather a complex emulsion of flavors in every bite.
Don’t let summer pass you by without a taste of this incredible Mango and Coconut Jelly – you won’t soon forget it!