Khanom Thuay
Slurping Heaven from a Bowl

This tiny custard pudding teases tastebuds with a tantalising balance of sweet and savoury

Words: Sarita Urupongsa

Fragrant and creamy with a sultry blend of sweetness and saltiness Khanom Thuay or steamed coconut milk custard is eaten from a tiny ceramic bowl with a tiny wooden spoon.

Khanom Thuay (sweet in a bowl) originated in China and was introduced to Thailand by traders during the Ayutthaya Kingdom (1351-1767). Though originally served only at royal events, traditional rites and festivals, it was too delicious to be reserved for special occasions and quickly became popular nationwide.

The custard comes in two layers of contrasting flavours and textures that both surprise and delight most palates. The bottom layer is a sweet and fragrant blend of coconut sugar, rice flour and pandan juice, while the top is a rich and savoury concoction of succulent coconut cream, rice flour and a pinch of salt. When the sweetness collides with the tang of salt, you get a dessert that can be highly addictive.

Khanom Thuay is sold by roadside vendors and traditional-sweet stores. If you can’t find one, look out for one of the many restaurants that sell boat noodles. They serve this dessert to soothe mouths set on fire by the spicy boat noodles.