Milk jelly with Agar-agar

Milk jelly is a simple vegetarian dessert set with Agar-agar instead of gelatine.  

The name Agar-agar is of Malay/ Indonesian  origin which means jelly. When I moved to Japan I realised its called Kanten in Japanese, and the same Agar-agar we called China grass in Kerala (South India).  

Agar-agar is a natural vegetarian substitute for gelatine; extracted from a marine red algae. It is a very popular dessert ingredient throughout Asia, but these days it is used as a common ingredient in molecular gastronomy  to make all sorts of jellified shapes like spaghetti and pearls with various ingredients. It is completely odourless and tasteless so you can incorporate it into all sorts of dishes.

As the vegetarian community is growing around the world Agar-agar is getting a solid following. 

Because of its high jellifying properties, it is considered as the queen of jelling agents. It gels below 40° C and retains its firmness even at high temperatures of up to 80°C, unlike animal based gelatine which melts at 37° C.

You can find it in most Asian grocery stores, sold in packages as dried white strips (as in the picture above) or as a white powder.

I have used dry Agar-agar strips in this recipe (soaked in water and then boiled with milk), but if A gar-agar powder is available, I suggest using that instead because it dissolves much more easily and you don’t have the hassle of soaking it beforehand and boiling it for a long time.

Adjust the amount of sugar according to your palate. Condensed milk is added to give a more milky flavour to the finished dish. When the jelly is set, serve it with any fruit topping. I have used orange segments but strawberries work well as well – use fruits which are in season.

Milk Jelly with Agar-agar Recipe


  • Agar-agar – 2g
  • Water – 300ml
  • Milk – 300m
  • Sugar – 45 g
  • Condensed milk – 125 ml


  • Soak Agar-agar in water for 10-15 minutes and then boil together with milk for 10-15 minutes until it melts and dissolves.
  • Add sugar and condensed milk and bring to the boil again, remove from the heat and cool slightly.
  • Pass it through a sieve and pour  it into prepared moulds and chill in the fridge until set.
  • Serve with a fruit topping of your choice.