How did the Bandung drink come about?

You might think at first glance that “bandung” originates from the city of Indonesia, Bandung, but actually it does not! This iconic pink beverage, although adapted from the classic Indian rose milk drink, originally originated in Southeast Asia. The term ‘bandung’ refers to ‘pairs’ and refers to something from two ingredients blended. Traditionally, this famous hawker beverage is made from evaporated or condensed milk and rose syrup, producing its iconic pastel pink hue.

In Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei, it is very popular and is consumed in particular during the Ramadan fasting month. It is sweet, refreshing, and very appropriate for Southeast Asia’s hot and humid climate!

Let’s start with rose syrup, the main ingredient! The rose syrup is made by melting rose petals and sugar together in a typical bandung recipe. Nevertheless, our modern world tradition has given way to comfort, and the prevalent ingredient in bandung today is bright red cordials made with artificial rose flavoring and food coloring. Artificial flavors, colours and basic carbohydrates, as you might imagine? Not the healthiest of choices.

The creaminess of bandung comes from the addition of condensed milk, which includes a lot of saturated fat and added sugar, to make it worse. Calorie-watchers can, instead, opt instead for evaporated milk. For extra creaminess, evaporated milk, while much lower in sugar than condensed milk, also has some type of vegetable fat (e.g. palm oil) added, further raising the saturated fat content of bandung.

So, is it possible to do good bandung? Yes! Yes! Instead of artificial rose cordial for that fresh floral fragrance, you can use natural rosewater. We can substitute high calcium & low sugar soy milk with condensed milk, which adds creaminess, precious calcium and protein while removing cholesterol and saturated fat! Bonus: for those with lactose sensitivity, it is ideal!

Here’s a recipe if you want to try it at home!


  • Ice
  • 1 1/2 cups rose syrup (bottle or made from scratch)
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 drops pink food coloring

In a pitcher,

  • Add 1 1/2 cups of Rose syrup
  • Add evaporated milk
  • Add 5 cups cold water
  • 3 drops of pink food coloring (This gives it, it’s pink color)
  • Pour over ice and enjoy

Check out my related post: Anyone likes Noodles?

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