I have over 10 Thai cookbooks from the 70’s to 00’s, and surprisingly no Kanom Chan recipes.
The range of recipes on the Internet is quite daunting. Different flours, different ratios, different cooking times, etc. The basic recipe appears to be a mix of two different liquids and two types of flour.
The liquids are always coconut milk and water infused with a flower (jasmine or rose). The first flour is always rice flour, not glutinous rice flour. The second flour is often tapioca flour (also known as cassava flour).
Given the variety, I knew it would be a lot of time in the kitchen. Based on my biases and availability of product, I selected a UK kanom chan recipe as my base line.
Over the course of the week, I produced 5 kanom chan. First following the recipe explicitly, second reducing the liquid amount, third adjusting the sugar content, and lastly playing with different flavorings and cooking times.
My Kanom Chan Recipe
- 1/2 Cup Tapioca Starch/Flour
- 1/4 Cup Rice Flour
- 1 Tablespoon Arrowroot Starch/Flour
- 3/4 Cup Sugar*
- 1/2 Cup Water, infused with Jasmine **
- 1 Teaspoon Concentrated Pandanus Juice***
- 1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
- Add 1 Tablespoon of water to Arrowroot Starch to create a slurry. Avoiding this step resulted in Arrowroot clumps.
- Combine flower water and sugar, and heat till sugar is completely dissolved.
- Sift Tapioca Starch and Rice Flour together.
- Mix Arrowroot Starch, coconut milk, and sugar water into the flours.
- Divide the batter into two equal parts – should yield two cups total. To half of the batter, add the pandanus flavor.
- Steam a tray in boiling water.
- Add coconut only flavored batter to cover the bottom of the tray. Cook for 10-15 minutes until done (no visible liquid on the surface).
- Add pandanus flavored batter to cover the bottom. Cook for 10-15 minutes until done.
- Repeat Steps 7 and 8 until no batter remains.
* The original recipe called for 1 cup of sugar, but it was just too sugary sweet. Interestingly, after reducing the sugar content to 3/4 cup, I read an article on palm oil and palm sugar. In the article, Kasma Loha-unchit uses palm sugar for her Thai desserts. As a side note, sugar in Thailand is less sweet than in the US. So straight conversions of recipes will not work.
** To make, infuse Jasmine in water overnight. However, I omitted this step entirely and just used plain water.
*** This will depend greatly on your pandanus concentrate. Some are quite intense, and the original tablespoon requirement is too much. Add a little to the batter and taste. The flavor will be more intense when cooked.