What is Ais Kacang or ABC (Air Batu Campur)? Translated as mixed ice, it was traditionally red beans, sweet corn, black grass jelly, colourful agar agar, attap chee and cendol buried in a mountain of ice shavings. The ice is topped-off with rose syrup, coconut palm sugar syrup and evaporated milk. New-fangled versions may have ice-cream, chocolate syrup, all kind of nuts and fruits. The sweet dessert is found all over South-East Asia and is known by different names.

I like the traditional version found at the PJ Old Town Market Food Court. Stall 46 or Weng Kee is one of three popular drink stalls there serving the ice dessert.

Photographing the traditional ABC is not as simple as ABC, though. You can’t see any of the ingredients when it is pristine. I ordered an extra tall one knowing it will collapse fast in the heat. The bright 4pm sun is low and superb as it rims the ice from the back, giving it a glow. The downside is the ice will melt very fast. You have like a minute or less to get your shot.

The lady boss even shouted at me to get the camera ready as she was putting the finishing touches. I like how hawkers are nowadays aware of the power of social media and are more cooperative than previously :-)

Olympus OM-D, ISO 200, f1.4, 1/4000 sec.

ABC or Air Batu Campur

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