How to Make Penang Ais Tingkap (Window Sherbet)

A Wok Around Asia Recipe By Penang Home Cooking School

Ais tingkap got its name from a bygone era when Indian vendors would sell the drink from a window (tingkap means “window” in Malay; ais is “ice” as in “iced drink”); it’s a refreshing drink made with fascinating ingredients that I’ve never before incorporated into any of my cooking (malva nuts and almond gum, anyone?).

Clockwise from top – malva nuts, almond gum & basil seeds

Nyonya chef and cookbook author Pearly Kee of Penang Home Cooking School served up this drink during my Wok Around Asia Makan (Culinary) Mastermind, and I was on hand to film her making it.

Watch the video here >>

As an FYI, Pearly used dragonfruit to reproduce the red hue in the drink, but the original version would have used rose syrup (the same syrup that goes into the Malaysian shaved ice dessert known as ais kacang or ais campur).

Also, I would suggest you went ahead with this recipe even if you had trouble finding almond gum and malva nuts; while they added to the texture and complexity of the drink, the stall-bought version did not in fact contain either ingredient.

Pearly’s Ais Tingkap on the left, stall-bought version in the background on the right

Ais Tingkap


2 young coconuts
3 Tbsps almond gum, soaked in water for 6 hours
3 Tbsps malva nuts, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
3 Tbsps basil seeds, soaked in water until expanded
500ml water
300g rock sugar
½ purple dragonfruit (or rose syrup)
2 Tbsps rose hips
6 pods cardamoms
3 Tbsps nutmeg


  1. Cut coconuts open and pour the water into a jug. Scrape the coconut flesh and set aside.
  2. In a pot, combine herbs, water, rock sugar and dragonfruit (if using). Simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Allow to cool, then sieve. Spoon some of the drink into a tall glass, then add a spoonful each of expanded basil seeds, malva nut and almond gum. Top with coconut water and coconut flesh.
  4. If using rose syrup in lieu of dragonfruit, add several dashes to turn the drink red.

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