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Khanom Khok Recipe

Thai Dessert Recipe, Thai Rice Pudding

 


This delicious Thai dessert would translate to something like rice pudding in English. Khanom Khok is very popular in almost all the provinces of Thailand. And you do not have to travel much to get a taste of this amazing Thai dish. As the recipe that follows will show, Khanom Khok is generally made as a Thai vegetarian dish. However on some rare occasions we have come across this Thai rice pudding where, dried shrimp pieces are sprinkled on top. So if you are very particular about eating vegetarian food have a close look before you pick this dish from any food stall. Whether you pronounce the name as Khanom Khok, Khanom Krok or Khanom Khrok - remember that the 'rok' portion should sound like it would in the word 'croak'.

We will provide a list of ingredients for the Khanom Khork dish soon but, let us broadly discuss some of the main ingredients. Rice flour is one of the main  ingredients in this Thai dessert. Most cooks use white rice flour but, we came across an interesting variation . On the busy Silom street in Bangkok a vendor provided two options for her Khanom Khok delicay, you could choose from white rice flour or brown (very dark brown) rice flour. The brown (unpolished) rice flour Khanom Khok had a slightly tougher texture on the outside, this was true even when they cooled down. As many of you would know, regular white rice flour used to make these Thai delicacies brings on a rather soft feel even when the dish is still hot. From our experience we know that the cooking time for unpolished rice is a bit longer than for white rice. Cooks recommend that, brown or unpolished rice be soaked in water for around 20 to 30 minutes before being cooked. Once you have become an expert in making Khanom Khok you could probably try an interesting option - mix a portion of white and brown rice when making your rice pudding.

khanom krok, filling the pan with batter
The above image shows the cook spooning the batter into each depression of the pan. Being located in a rather busy shopping center of Bangkok, the cook often needs to use more than one pan to fulfill peak demand for the khanom khok. As mentioned in the recipe details for this Thai rice pudding, the pan needs to be heated before pouring in the rice flour based batter. The initial heat and the subsequent cooking all need to happen on a medium heat level. Notice that the cook keeps two cans - the khanom khrok recipe explains what they are and when each of them needs to be put into the pan.

Sugar is another ingredient used to make this Thai rice pudding, and the Thais love to make it very sweet. The truth is that thai food dishes that are meant to be hot and spicey generally, use an overdose of chillies. And when it comes to recipes that are used to make sweet dishes, there is a substantial amount of sugar that goes in. Fortunately, Thai Khanom Khok does not rely on sugar for it's texture or consistency. This means that you can moderate the sugar content when making the dish, this would of course not be possible if you decide to go out and buy your rice pudding from a food shop. Like all desserts, we would suggest that you keep some control on the number of Khanom Khok pieces that you eat. Food stalls generally pack anywhere from 4 to 6 pieces in one 'box' for a specific price. Unless you happen to be very young, it might be a good idea to limit your share to around 2 or a maximum of 3 pieces. If you are watching your weight or require to be on a controlled diet, do not attempt to make a complete meal of Khanom Khrok!

Coconut Cream And Milk, two other ingredient for making this Thai dessert can be quite easily found in grocery stores. If you get your coconut milk from the stores keep the container still for at least an hour before using it. There is an interesting reason for doing this, so read on. The top layer of the container contains a slightly thicker liquid, this is referred to as coconut cream. The remaining contents in the coconut milk can would be thinner - this is coconut milk. Most Thai recipes clearly indicate whether coconut cream or coconut milk are to be used, some might even make use of both. If you do not have access to readymade coconut milk or prefer to make your own - you would require either dried grated coconut or fresh coconut. Clear instructions on how to make coconut milk and cream have been provided here.

how to make thai dessert khanom khok
After filling all the depressions in the khanom khok kratha (making pan), the cook places a lid on the pan. Any ordinary lid large enough to close the pan would do. At this point, she has poured both the mixtures into the pan. Read the recipe well before you start making your khanom krok. The second mixture is to be added to the existing contents of the pan at a specific moment, details are in the recipe. Use medium heat and the cooking time should be around 7 to 10 minutes, exact time will be better learnt through experience.

When going by the proportions for each ingredient to make your khanom khok, take a moment to review the pan on which your rice pudding will be cooking. Modern pans can be used on gas stoves, round charcoal grills or even electric hotplates. The most convenient pans to cook Thai khanom khrok are made from metal, easier to use, clean and store. The size of the pan will determine the number of holes (depressions) it has, and in an ideal situation you do not want to keep any of those empty when the heating process is on. If you have not yet purchased the Khanom Khrok cooking pan, here is some advice. Try too pick a size that is not very large - food stalls can use large pans as they have to cater to commercial quantities to make the sale. Presumably home cooking of this Thai dessert will not require big volumes and if you on the rare occasion need to display your skills to a party full of guests, just be prepared to make a couple of rounds to handle quantity requirements. When referring to this or any other recipe to cook khanom khok, moderate the proportions of each ingredient based on expected volume. If you happen to be filling a pan and suddenly run out of batter, try reducing the quantity poured into each of the depressions in the pan.  

 

Ingredients To Make Thai Khanom Khok (Rice Pudding)

To Make The Top
1 Cup    - Rice Flour
1/3 Cup - Cooked Jasmine Rice (some recipes do not use this)
2 Cups    - Water
1/3 Cup   - Fresh Grated Coconut.
Salt To Taste (1/2 teaspoon at the most)
To Make The Pouring Filling
1 Cup                      - Coconut Cream (coconut milk, thicker consistency)
1 1/2 Tablespoons    - Tapioca Powder
1/2 Cup                   - Sugar
1 Teaspoon             - Salt (maximum 1.5 teaspoons)
Optional
1/4 Cup   - Spring Green Onions, Cut In Thin Slices (rounds)
1/4 Cup   - Fresh Corn Kernels

As you start using the ingredients to make your Thai rice pudding, keep in mind that there would be two separate mixtures, some chefs like to refer to them as mixture for the bottom layer and mixture for the top layer or topping. We have never witnessed an experiment where both mixtures were mixed together before being spooned into the pan but, you might try that later once you have mastered the art of making and tasting, this lip smacking Thai dessert!

cooking thai dessert khanom krok rice pudding recipe
Khanom Krok ready to be taken off the pan, the cook takes off the lid and inspects the contents in the pan. Keep in mind that even experienced cooks take off and put back the lid a couple of times to check and ensure that, the rice pudding (khanom khrok) is not over or under cooked. Notice the edges of each depression, they should appear a bit brown - a sign that they are cooked. The top layer as you see it is the topping poured on the bottom batter, the topping will appear more like a semi-liquid than a solid.

 

Making The Base (bottom) Layer.

This mixture is what begins the cooking for the Khanom Krok, the topping that we spoke of will come in later. Begin by mixing 1 cup of rice flour with an equal (1 cup) of water. Mix it thoroughly and since this is happening at room temperature, you might need to use your fingers to ensure that no lumps of rice flour remain. This is the foundation for your Khanom Khrok so let's get it right. Once mixed, you will need to keep the mixture aside for around an hour, some cooks suggest overnight but, that might be too much especially in very hot or very cold weather. Let's call this portion 'base mixture 1' to make easy reference as we move on with the recipe of this Thai dessert.

We are still on preparing the base layer for your Khanom Khrok, pay attention to this step. This is where we will utilize the cooked jasmine rice mentioned in the ingredients list. If you do not have access to jasmine rice, any other white rice would do. Some Khanom Khok recipes do not include the cooked rice as an ingredient but in our opinion, the rice helps makes it easier to get the crisp firmness that the bottom layer that the rice pudding requires.

You will now need to use a food blender, some of you might have to make do with the coffee grinder - before you do that make sure that the blender or the coffee grinder do not have leftovers from the previous grinding job! The flavor for your Khanom Krok will come from the rice and coconut milk, this is  a classic but fine flavor, you do not want the ingredients to pick flavors from material that is hanging in the blender. Now put the cooked rice, grated coconut and salt in the food blender - add 1 cup of water. Grind the ingredients to a fine mixture and then pour into a bowl, make use of your hands to mix the mixture well. Add this just prepared mixture into the 'base mixture 1' that we prepared earlier. Let's continue to call this 'base mixture 1'.

Your bottom layer batter is now ready, we will now move to make the filling for the Khanom Khok. Some recipes for this Thai dessert might mention dried grated coconut instead of fresh coconut, use this option only if you cannot find fresh coconut. And if you must make do with dried grated coconut, use just 1/4 cup instead of the 1/3 that we mentioned above. The mixture for the base layer needs to have a pouring consistency, sure not thick and sticky and preferably not too thin. This is something that will come with experience so do not, get discouraged if things don't go perfectly well the first time.

khanom khrop how to cook
A short and fairly wide sppon is used to scoop out each piece of khanom khok from the pan. Notice that these are normally placed one on top of the other when taken off the pan. This allows for easy packing and makes it easier to pick and eat too. Keep in mind that the rice pudding when just taken off the pan can be very hot, it will remain so for at least 5 minutes after that. Be specially careful about the heat when giving the khanom khrok to children - allow at least 5 minutes of cooling, check the temperature and then begin to feast on them.

 

Making The Top Pouring Mixture.

This is something that you will pour in with a spoon, once the bottom layer has cooked a bit. Mix the coconut cream, sugar and Tapioca powder together, make sure that the sugar is well dissolved. You are already ready with the top mixture for your rice pudding, no cooking involved at this stage. Let us call this preparation the 'top mixture'. The amount of sugar that you use to make this part of the Khanom Krok mixture will define just how sweet your pudding turns out, you can adjust this with experience.

 

Cooking.

The pan with depressions that the Thai's use to cook their khanom khrok is locally referred to as 'Khatha Khanom Krok'. In these times, the pan is generally made from iron though baked mud clay pans can still be seen. You will also need a simple metal lid or plate to cover the pan when the cooking is going on. The lid need not be airtight, it is helpful in trapping the steam from the khanom khrok making it cook more efficiently. Street vendors in Thailand generally use a coal based stove to cook this Thai dish but, a gas or electric stove will work well too. You will need to first heat up the pan on a medium heat, making the pan too hot will cause the ingredients to burn quickly. We have not come across pans that are coated with modern non-stick surfaces so follow this next step. Use a cooking brush and brush over some oil into the depressions on the pan, just a little bit of oil - you will not be frying your Khanom Khrok.

Before you move ahead, stir the base mixture well - the rice flour has a tendency to settle at the bottom. Do this each time you start filling the pan. Now take a spoon full of the 'base mixture 1' and pour it into the depression in the pan, fill it to around two third capacity. Continue filling all the depressions in the pan. If you seem to be running out of mixture, reduce the mixture in each of the depressions. We have noticed that professional cooks never leave any of the depressions empty, not sure if there is some secret to this. Commercial vendors use large pans and many of them have 2 to 3 pans cooking at once, you can probably shop for a smaller pan to make limited lots.

Once you have poured the base mixture into the pan depressions, let the mixture cook for around 10 to 15 seconds (not more). Now you will need to fill in the 'top mixture' that we prepared earlier, stir it with a spoon. Use the spoon to pour some top mixture into each of the depressions, so this would go on top of the 'base mixture 1' that is already cooking. Cover the pan with the lid and let the mixture cook for around 7 to 10 minutes. The exact time is something that can determined with some experience but, here is a good tip. You can occasionally lift the lid and peek at the Khanom Khok that is cooking, the edges will start to become a golden brown color when the cooking is nearly done. If this happens any moment after 7 minutes of cooking, you can safely presume that your rice pudding is cooked. And if the mixture gets the brown edges too soon, it would imply that the pan is way too hot - adjust the heat level the next time. An important thing to note is that, the pudding will not turn solid when cooked - it would still appear as a semi solid in the middle of each depression. A minute or two before the cooking is done, you could sprinkle a little of the 'Optional ' ingredients listed in the table above, just a little bit on each piece as you do not want to alter the main flavour of your rice pudding. If you have ever tasted khanom khok with no sprinkling above and enjoyed the flavor, avoid using the optional ingredients.

Turn off the heat under the pan, best to pick the pan off the heat if possible. Use a spoon to gently scoop each pudding piece out of it's depression. Most vendors sell their Khanom Khrok in pairs, one piece is piled on to another - face to face. Before you taste the pudding , be aware that it will be very hot. The semi-solid inside of the khanom Krok retains heat for quite a while. Having said that, many food lovers prefer to eat their khanom krok rather hot (not straight off the pan) - that is when the soft delicions interior is nested in the crisp golden brown exterior.

We have at times in the recipe referred to Khanom Khok as a 'dessert', many Thais eat this Thai pudding for breakfast. You can adjust the number you eat depending on, what time of the day or what part of your meal you wish to relish them.


 

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