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Khanom Chan Recipe

Thai Dessert Recipe, Layered Sweet Dish


The name Khanom Chan would be translated as 'delicacy (khanom) with layers', so this is exactly what many foreigners refer to the famous Thai sweet dessert as, Layered Sweet Dessert. For those of you who are vegetarian and relish the thought of Thai food, you would be glad to know that Khanom Chan is a vegetarian dish. The sweetness in the layered dessert would obviously depend on the amount of sugar that you use to make this Thai dessert - experience will put you in better control of a more customized taste. We present a typical Khanom Chan ingredient list and recipe here, try it out and you are sure to enjoy the experience. The ingredients to make the layered Thai sweet are not many and the steps to follow to make it, are not very complicated either.

Like most traditional Asian sweet dishes, Thai food colors are generally obtained by using natural ingredients. But if you come across some very loud and bright colors in Thai food today, they are more likely to have come from factory made 'food grade' colors. The attractive green color of the Khanom Chan dish is derived from the extract of pandan leaves, the leaves are called 'bai toey hom' in Thai. The fragrance in the Thai layered sweet dessert is partly derived from a drop or two of the extract from Jasmine flowers. Flour from the tapioca plant is another important ingredient in this sweet Thai dish.

thai dessert layered sweet dish, khanom chan thailand
The khanom chan or layered sweet from Thailand is made with formation of layers. A layer is allowed to partially cool before, the next layer is poured on it. This is a Thai vegetarian dish and get's it's green color from the extract of pandan leaves. As can be seen from the above image, the alternating layers in the Khanom chan formation show two slightly different tones of green (color).

You could have a khanom chan with as many layers as you want but, traditionally there is a significance in making the Thai layered sweet with 9 layers. The number 9 in Thai and even in Indian customs is a lucky number that, symbolizes progress and success. Professional cooks still make their khanom chan with 9 layers. Since it is the pandan leaf extract that imparts the green color to the layered sweet dish, the easiest way to get the layered look is to alternate layers of the batter with portions that have been infused with pandan juice and those which have not. Though not very common, you might come across khanom chan with many colored layers - in the old days, natural color extract was used for all these colors - today they are more likely to be commercially manufactured food coloring agents. Children in Thailand have an interesting way to relish their layered sweet, they eat the sweet layer by layer.

The ingredients for the recipe for Khanom Chan shown below are calculated to make a small amount of the Thai sweet dish - presuming that this is your first try at making khanom chan. You could increase the proportions of the ingredients to get a bigger volume of the layered sweet dish.

We would suggest that, you spend a few moments and quickly read through the making instructions below. This will give you a general idea of how to go about making khanom chan, you can then go through each step as you move ahead with the process.


Ingredients To Make Khanom Chan, Layered Sweet 

1/2 Cup Tapioca Flour
1/4 Cup Rice Flour
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
Jasmine Essence (just 1 drop)
1/4 Cup Pandan Juice
1/2 Cup Sugar


Method: Presuming that you have the fresh pandan leaves ready, we will need to make the juice to be used in the layered sweet dessert. If you have never experienced the smell and flavor of pandan juice before, halve the amount of pandan juice from what is shown in the ingredient list above. First wash and cut the pandan leaves into smalll pieces, half inch pieces would be ideal. You are aiming for about 1/2 a cup of the pandan leaves (pieces). You will now need to take the cut pandan leaves along with some water (1/4 cup) and use a food blender to get a paste. Use a clean piece of cloth or a metal meshed strainer and pass the ground pandan leaves through it, collect the juice in a cup - you should get about 1/4 cup of pandan juice.

Now take a saucepan and put the coconut milk, sugar, jasmine essence and 1/4 cup water in it. At this point, the pandan juice that you just prepared is not mixed into the saucepan. Use low heat to heat the khanom  chan ingredients that were put in the saucepan, the heat will be applied until the sugar has dissolved. You should now transfer the contents of the heated saucepan to a bowl - remember that the contents are hot. Add the rice flour and tapioca flour to the bowl, use a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients in the bowl - the objective is to make a composite mixture that does not contain any lumps of flour. You should end up with a smooth batter in the bowl, make sure that this happens before moving ahead with making your Thai layered dessert.

To refresh your memory, the layers in your khanom chan are to be alternated in terms of color. For this to happen, we will need to have a portion of the batter without the green color imparted by the pandan juice while, the juice will need to color the other portion of the batter. So divide the batter into two portions, keep each portion in a small bowl. We did keep the 1/4 cup pandant leaf extract aside, we will now need to add it to one of the portions - you could add all the extract or just half of it. The addition of the pandan juice to the batter will dilute the batter, we need to compensate for this additional liquid. If you added the entire 1/4 cup pandan juice, add 2 tablespoons of tapioca flower and 1 tablespoon of rice flour to the batter and mix it will. But if you decided to make your Khanom Chan with only half of the prepared pandan juice, then use 1 tablespoon of tapioca flower and 1/2 tablespoon of rice flour to compensate for the extra liquid in the batter.

Your Thai layered dessert will be steamed to get it cooked, and the container that is put in the steamer will be heated before the batter is layered into it. Use a container that is around 3.5 - 4 inches in length and width - a dept of around 1.5 - 2 inches will be perfect. Important: Many cooks suggest that you rub some oil into the container before beginning the making process, this will ensure that the khanom chan does not get stuck to the inside of the container. As you get ready to pour the batter into the container keep one thing in mind, small portions will need to be released each time - so don't pour all the batter at one time. Begin with the portion of the batter that has the pandan juice, scoop 3 - 4 tablespoons of the batter into the container. Now steam the container for around 5-6 minutes, the layer would be cooked when no liquid can be seen on the top. It is now the turn of the batter that has been left without the pandan leaf extract, pour 3 - 4 tablespoons above the first layer. Steam the 2 layers for around 5 minutes, make sure that the second layer is cooked (no liquid seen on top) and then, pour another layer of the batter - alternate the two batters until none is left. Give 5 - 6 minutes of cooking time for each layer before pouring in the next layer.

Once the cooking process is done, allow the contents in the container to cool down to room temperature. The layered sweet is done and you will need to cut it into squares, for this to be done neatly, you could place the entire container in the fridge for a while. Khanom chan can be eaten as a dessert or as a snack between meals. Some enterprising cooks have suggested that, the cut pieces of the sweet dessert be allowed to cool in the fridge before being eaten. This was an interesting idea and we tried it, you might want to do the same.


This website has many more Thai food recipes for you to try, some of them are hot and spicey while others boast of a delicious sweet taste. If you have just begun your journey into the world of Thai food cooking, we would suggest that you make small portions of each dish the first time. Once you get more familiar with the flavor and smell of various ingredients, try fine tuning the recipe to better suit your preference - basically, don't be afraid to modify and improvise. Share the recipes and even the Thai food dishes that you cook with your friends and family, they will surely appreciate the kind gesture.


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