burmese coconut jelly : hsa*ba, myanmar cookbook

burmese coconut jelly

What I love about this sweet Burmese coconut jelly is that it’s easy to make and looks impressive: the coconut milk separates and sets to form two layers, the top is white and the bottom is translucent. The agar agar sets the jelly without refrigeration and does not melt in hot weather making it perfect for summer.


10g agar agar strands
350ml fresh coconut milk
350ml water
85g caster sugar
¼ teaspoon salt


First soak the agar agar in a bowl of water for 10 minutes until softened. Drain and cut the strands in half and pop into a saucepan. Add the coconut milk and water to the pan and bring to the boil. Simmer over moderately high heat, stirring frequently and keeping a close eye so it does not bubble over. Cook until all the agar agar strands have completely dissolved, about 15-20 minutes. Turn the heat off, add the sugar and salt, stirring until both are completely dissolved.

Pour into a container, approximately 17cm x 12cm x 5cm, let it set at room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. The jelly will stay fresh and moist for several days if covered in 1cm of cold water. Cut into diamonds or slices and serve. It should be firm enough to pick up with your fingers.

serves: 6-8
cooking time: 25 mins


  1. ruthann on June 8, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    I was fascinated by a wedding sweet that I am presuming was made in a similar way. It was white on the bottom and had a clear layer with a lovely pink rose (edible jelly) imbedded in the clear layer. Is this similar to that??

    • Cho on June 9, 2009 at 7:20 am

      Hi Ruthann

      I sounds like agar agar. What a lovely idea to put pink rose in the clear layer…

      – Cho

  2. Rebecca @ Inside Cuisine on January 3, 2010 at 7:01 am

    Cooeee from Sydney Australia. That sounds delicious and so easy! and thanks ruthann, the rose sounds a gorgeous idea too … I must try this during the @frombecca

  3. Violet on March 11, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Can you give me some advice?
    I cant manage to get two layers. What could I be doing wrong?
    I followed the recipe as closely as I could.


    • Cho on March 13, 2010 at 6:32 am

      Hi Violet
      Are you using canned coconut milk? I find that it tends not to separate into two layers when you use canned. It’s worth making your own fresh coconut milk.

      – Cho

  4. Polly on March 17, 2010 at 12:31 am

    Hi. um I’m making this for aproject and I’m wondering wheres the country of origin.

    • Cho on March 17, 2010 at 1:07 am

      Hi Polly
      I have to say I don’t know where this dessert originated from. I know you can find coconut agar in Thailand and Malaysia too.

      – Cho

  5. Diana Tseng on March 28, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    In order to get two layers from canned coconut, dissolve the agar with water first, add sugar, salt, then add canned coconut, bring it to a boil.. then pour to the contain and cool.

  6. norm from australia on November 30, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    can u give us some new recipes ,like dahendi hon no san,i’av got a lot of dahendi for the shop ,some a bit bitter. what shuold i do with them?

  7. jennifer on March 28, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    if I used agar agar powder instead of the strands, how much of it should I use?

    • Cho on April 22, 2011 at 10:53 am

      Hi Jennifer, I found some agar agar powder and according to the packet instructions it’s 4g per 500ml so for this recipe around 5g or 6g.

  8. Di on September 17, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I just made this, but also add a few drops of ‘Pandan’ paste… and it was delicious and, of course, went a beautiful and vibrant green colour. I used agar powder (6g) and it set perfectly.

    Thank you Cho for your inspiration!

  9. Sylvia on November 22, 2013 at 1:46 am

    Love this recipe – also found mine did not separate with canned milk, but still delicious. A friend suggested that I try using brown sugar to get a ‘caramel’ flavour – I think as the weather warms up (in Aus) I will continue to experiment!

  10. Reshma on March 2, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    ‘The jelly will stay fresh and moist for several days if covered in 1cm of cold water.’…..What does this mean?

    • Cho on March 15, 2014 at 2:57 am

      This means that if there is jelly left over, to keep it fresh, put the jelly in a dish and pour water until the jelly is covered.