I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been to Bangkok – be it for work or play, but I sincerely doubt i’ll ever tire of the city nor this sweet treat, Khanom Beaung, ขนมเบื้อง [kʰanǒm bɯ̂əŋ]
Known as crispy pancakes in English, Khanom Beaung is a popular Thai street food that will satisfy that aching sweet tooth of yours. Resembling tacos or crepes, this crispy snack is made from several ingredients including rice flour, pigeon pea flour, egg yolk, palm sugar and a pinch of salt. As all good dessert chefs know, a pinch of salt only serves to enhance the flavor of any dessert.
This sweet treat is said to have been introduced in the Ayudhaya Period of King Narai’s rule by a Thai born Japanese-Portugese-Bengali lady, Marie Guimar de Pihna also known as Lady Witchayen, who played a pivotal role in introducing new Portugese influenced dessert recipes to the Ayudhaya court which was sold during royal festivals. This dessert was later introduced to the commoners some 50 years later.
To prepare this treat, the ingredients are mixed with water and beaten together to form a thin batter. This batter is then spread out on a preheated griddle in an oval shape to form the crust. What’s interesting is the required tool to spread the batter – Kra Ja [a flat spreader], pictured below.
Once this mini ovals are crisp and ready, the coconut cream is plastered on. This cream is an intoxicating concoction with a consistency similar to meringue if left out with a strong coconut flavor. Let me just add that it is diabolically sweet.
To finish, the pancakes are topped of with a selection of toppings of your choice – grated coconut, grated small shrimps for a contrast of flavors, strips of eggs, coriander leaves, chopped onion, sweetened pork, raisin or persimmon. It really depends on what the vendors offer and which ones you select. You may want to try every flavor just for the experience but personally i love the ones topped with the grated coconut for a consistency of taste. Tip – the orange toppings typically indicate a savory taste while the yellow toppings are sweet.
To complete, the vendor uses a spatula to lift the pancake halfway and push it down such that the shape resembles that of a taco which makes it easier for you to pop it into your mouth.
You can typically chance upon this sweet treats along the streets of Bangkok but if you are that unlucky, head on down to MBK Center at 44 Phayathai Rd., Patumwan, level 5, where you’ll find an aisle catered to serving this and it costs about 10 baht per piece. The food hall at Siam Paragon, 991/1 Rama 1 Road Pathumwan, also has a store serving this dessert.
bon appetit all!