The Thais, unlike Westerners, rarely eat a dessert at the end of
a meal, but this doesn't mean they don't like sweets. They love
them, and they are often purchased from hawkers, those peripatetic
vendors of food who appear as if by magic wherever people gather.
The variety of sweets available is awesome and what follows is
only a brief introduction. As with anything purchased in Thailand,
a little sign language and a smile are usually all that is necessary
to get you started.
Bananas, dunked in a batter, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and then
deep-fried kluay tod are a crunchy treat enjoyed by virtually everyone.
Bananas are also peeled and barbecued kluay ping. Sometimes they
are cut into pieces and skewered on bamboo, but more often than
not, they are cooked whole; a unique and healthy treat.
Khanom krok is a popular coconut pudding made by pouring a batter
into indentations in a special cast iron pan that is then covered
and heated over a flame. Midway through the cooking process the
puddings are gingerly turned so that they will brown on both sides,
a great snack that everyone seems to enjoy.
Little pancakes spread with coconut cream and then topped with
shredded coconut and bright orange strings made from egg yolks are
a colorful sweet often served by Phuket's hawkers. A savoury version
of khanom buang, topped with shredded coconut and spring onions,
is usually served by the same vendor.
Khanom tang taek, which translates as poor man's pancakes, is a
popular dish showing being poor might not be that bad in Thailand.
The flour and egg pancakes are cooked, spread with a sweet filling,
stacked, and then cut into wedges. This tasty treat is often found
at the temporary "expos" selling clothing and other merchandise
that periodically spring up around Phuket.
Sticky rice is frequently mixed with bananas, shredded coconut
or mashed taro. These mixtures are packed in banana leaves and then
roasted khao niew ping or steamed khao tom mud. Sticky rice is also
simply cooked in coconut milk and then topped with a variety of
items, including mashed mango khao niao mamuang, creating a dish
that is wildly popular with foreigners.
The Thais like everyone else on the planet seem to be addicted
to food covered with sweet syrup. In Thailand these syrups are not
only made from sugar, but also sweetened coconut milk. Bananas,
corn, and tapioca balls are only some of the items that can be found
masked with a sugary liquid. For those of you with a sweet tooth,
discovering some of the others will be an enjoyable journey into
decadence. As stated at the outset, this is only an introduction
to the wonderful world of Thai sweets. But one of the great things
about Thai food, sweet or otherwise, is the chance to sample and
explore is part of the fun. Now that you have a little information,
the rest is up to you...