Thai desserts exhibit a unique and exquisite taste and appearance. The sweet taste, coloring and elaborate details in each kind require a lot of time and skill. Real traditional Thai desserts contains only three main ingredients; flour, sugar and coconut. These three are mixed in different amounts and are cooked by various methods such as steaming, boiling, frying and grilling to produce numerous kinds of desserts. Hundreds kinds of desserts have been produced from these three main ingredients displaying great imagination and perserverance.
Thai desserts get their inspiration from Buddhism and its ceremonies. Therefore, the name of Thai desserts have positive meaning to wish everyone good luck and prosperity such as "kha-nom-tuay-fu" shows prosperity with its name and apperance. Another popular family of Thai desserts has "Thong" meaning "Gold" in all of the names.
Thai dessert names include Thong-yib, Thong-yod (golden ball), Foy-thong (golden threads), Thong-ek, Thong-plu, Thong-muan etc., all meant to wish everyone with gold, much money and treasure to spend forever. Nowadays, many kinds of Thai desserts cannot be found but we can still enjoy many. We can be proud of the ingenuity and the exotic taste and and the unique appearance of these pieces of Thai cooking.
Thai desserts offer a soothing finale to a spicy meal. Usually a simple meal will conclude with fresh fruit of some kind, with the more elaborate desserts reserved for special occasions. Many of the dessert recipes can double as sweet snacks, for eating at any time. Pureed banana (gluay guan), coconut delight (ma-prow kaew), and crisp sweet taro (puek chaap) all fall in this group.
At midday a cold dessert is preferred, such as short noodles rolled in coconut (kanom duang), an attractive tricolored noodle dish. Crispy water chestnuts (tab tim grob) is another particularly refreshing dish, with chilled water chestnuts being topped with coconut cream. Egg desserts like Thai custard (sangkaya) reflect the Portuguese in fluence on Thai custard (sangkaya) reflect the Portuguese influence on Thai cuisine. Thai custard is probably the best known Thai dessert, but there is a great diversity of desserts in the different regions.
In the Northeast sticky rice squares (khao neow tad) are popular, with the rice being steamed with coconut milk. In the North, sweet rice pudding with longan (khao neow piag lamyai) is a regional specialty when longans are in season. Sticky, or sweet, rice is a short-grain glutinous rice used all over Thailand for desserts but as a staple in the North and Northeast. In the South, pudding with coconut topping (ta-gow) served in banana leaf cups is a favorite. The popular desserts of Bangkok include baked mung bean cake (kanom naw gaeng) and black glutinous rice pudding (khao neow dam piag), with its distinctive velvety plum color.
Another favorite dessert combines sticky rice with crescent slices of mango (khao neow ma-muang). The fruit makes a tempting, sweetly tart complement to the sticky rice, all presented on a bright green banana leaf. Dessert can also be as simple as a platter of fresh fruits that are in season. They are peeled, sliced and ready to eat: papayas, watermelons, jackfruits, longans, lychees and mangoes are just some of the huge variety available.
One fruit that disdains the company of any other is the magnificent durian. It makes a strong statement with “a smell like hell and a taste like heaven”. Durian, an oval-shaped fruit with spikes, signals its presence with its aroma during Thailand’s summer-April through June when durian is in season. As the fruit ripens, the flavor becomes richer. The choicest durians are found in the province of Nonthaburi, on the periphery of Bangkok. Thailand’s wealth of fruits, as well as vegetables, also play another role during major celebrations such as national holidays when intricately carved fruit and vegetable sculptures add luster to a banquet setting. The embellishment of dishes with such sculptures is a purely Thai signature. This style of presentation, which elevates any food to one fit for royalty, is another way of showing special regard for one’s guests and this is always an important part of Thai hospitality.