One of the most popular drinks in Malaysia is probably “Air Mata Kucing”. It is a herbal drink which is nutritious and refreshing especially when the sun is scorching. It is also extremely delicious. It is no wonder that 'Air Mata Kucing' secured the 6th place in the list of the “50 most delicious drinks from around the world”. The herbal taste in this healthy drink is not at all over-powering. In fact, it is soothingly refreshing. So, be sure to try this nutritious and healthy drink.
'Air Mata Kucing' in Kuala Lumpur was made popular by a stall stationed at a street corner at Petaling Street (Chinatown). This stall has a history of more than three decades and had now expanded its business to shopping malls. The popularity of the herbal drink is obvious with the long queue in front of the stall daily. Many years ago, the drinks were sold served in metal bowls to customers who enjoy the drink at the stall. However, this is no longer the practice these days as styrofoam cups are now used.
To create this delicious drink at home, only four ingredients are needed. The base of this drink is made up of monk fruit which is also known as “Lo Hon Guo” in Chinese. It gives colour to the drink as well as acting as a natural sweetener. The abundant benefits of monk fruit are widely known in the world of traditional Chinese medicine. Dried longan which is high in vitamins is also added to this drink to enhance its sweetness. In this recipe, I choose the darker coloured dried longan which is sweeter and more intense in flavour although it is absolutely fine to use the lighter coloured dried longan too.
The classic 'Air Mata Kucing' that is made popular by the stall at Petaling Street is quite sweet as rock sugar is added to it. Since it is served with lots of ice cubes, the sweetness is somehow diluted. Rock sugar is optional, if you do not like the drink being too sweet.
Fresh winter melon strips make this herbal drink extra special as they soften during the boiling process, thus giving it the melt-in-the-mouth feel. This is definitely a delightful drink not to be missed. Serve it warm or cold with lots of ice cubes, according to your preference.
Note: To ensure the freshness of 'lo hon guo', choose those that are not too dark or black in colour, that can bounce gently and do not produce any sound when shaken.
Air Mata Kucing is also known as: 罗汉果龙眼冰糖炖冬瓜水
Add crushed monk fruit and dried longan into a pot of water. Increase the heat to allow it to boil.
Once it begins to boil, add shredded winter melon strips and rock sugar. Bring to boil again and then let it simmer for 20 minutes.
Serve warm or with ice cubes. Best to let the drink sit for an hour to develop its flavours before serving.