Thai desserts are well known for their taste sensations, and are as impressive as their appearance. Their appealing looks reflects the nature of Thai people who are neat and meticulous. Thai desserts are also colourful, delicious and multifarious. Colours and scents make Thai desserts both earthly and worldly. A visit to one of Thailand‘s many markets is an eye-opener to the country’s sweet flavours and a food adventure that will be far from boring!
The name for dessert in Thai language is Kanom Wan. They are a sweet and sometimes filling snack quite different to Western-style desserts. Characterised by sweet syrups, coconut cream, tropical fruits and sweet sticky rice, most of them are complex to make. Flowers like jasmine and ylang-ylang provide beautiful fragrances while herbs such as pandanus leaves give them beautiful organic colours. Given the time they take to prepare, it is surprising they cost so little. Some boutique hotels in Thailand are even presenting these traditional treats as high tea accompaniments.
If you are on the hunt for new sweet treats to delight your taste buds, this handpicked list of delicious Thai desserts is for you.
These creamy and fragrant bite-sized sweet and savory grilled coconut-rice hot cakes are cooked in a charcoal-heated pan with small craters, which result in little rich coconut cups. They are a favourite among Thai people and are widely eaten in the mornings at street vendors around Thailand. A box of Kanom Krok normally has 10 pairs (20 pieces) and costs around 40 Thai Baht.
SILK THREAD ROTI – SAI MAI
This dish invented in Ayutthaya is a mix of Indian and Thai words; Roti for Indian and Sai Mai for Thai (which means Silk Thread). Roti and Sai Mai will come in separate plastic bags, you have to put Sai Mai above Roti and wrap it yourself. It is recommended to avoid eating only Sai Mai as it can be too sweet. Price per set for Roti Sai Mai is usually around 30-40 Thai Baht.
These pretty little desserts are shaped into mini Thai fruits and vegetables such as mango, chili, cherries, mangosteens, oranges, bananas, watermelons and carrots, but they are miniatures. Their taste is sweet, their smell is fragrant and their appearance is attractive and colourful. They are made with steamed mung beans (with skin re-moved), sugar, coconut cream, clear gelatine and food colouring, and the process is incredibly labour-intensive.
The ground bean paste is mixed with sugar before coconut cream is added. The mixture is then heated over a gentle fire until it becomes sticky. After leaving it to cool, the mixture is taken to be moulded into desired shapes of fruits and vegetables. This important step needs good dexterity as every curve and line requires a gentle touch to shape the mixture into miniature fruits or vegetables.
But the size of each piece is limited by the amount of mixture that can be made to hold together. Then the little models are painted in various colours. When dry, they are dipped into clear gelatine. This Thai dessert has two words in its name: Luuk which means small object, and Chuup meaning a type of coating. Luuk Chuup is a Thai dessert that originated from the ancient time of Siam. It is believed that it was created for the Royal family of Siam, then later spread beyond the walls of the palace.
MANGO STICKY RICE
Sweet sticky rice with sweet yellow mango on top and covered in coconut cream syrup. This is one of the most famous desserts in Thailand.
It looks like a dish on a tacos menu, but it does not taste like it. This sweet dessert is made with coconut milk. It can be eaten hot or cold.
CHAO KUAI NOM SOT
Chao Kuai, or grass jelly, is commonly served in Thailand with ice and natural brown sugar. It can also be served with jackfruit and milk.
A sweet concoction of mixed treats including tapioca balls, sweet potato chunks, corn, red beans, gelatine strips in different shapes, sizes and colours topped with coconut milk.
TUB TIM KLOB
This dessert is made of water chestnuts dipped in red food colouring, then tossed in cassava flour which gives it a soft, chewy exterior. It is served in ice and coconut milk. The perfect dessert for a hot day!