Thailand is famous for many things: her street food, shopping, and sunny islands among others. What many do not realise is the Land of Smiles also has mouth-watering desserts up for offer. Fresh back home from a trip to Thailand, I find myself plagued by insatiable sweet-tooth cravings night after night. I would gladly return to Thailand simply to feast on the wide array of sweet treats available there. If you are lucky enough to be heading there soon, here are five delicious desserts you have to try.
Tub Tim Grob (Red Ruby)
Crunchy bits of water chestnut, coated with gelatinous tapioca flour and dyed red, resembles the namesake of this dessert. Those sweet, vividly coloured ruby balls are served in a drink of cold coconut milk. The result is a velvety broth and delightfully chewy morsels with every slurp. This dessert feels impossibly decadent and refreshing at the same time. It can be found at most restaurants or food courts.
Foi Thong (Golden Egg Yolk String)
Egg yolk and sugar are forced into a thin, stringy form, and rapidly boiled in syrup flavoured with rose water or jasmine flower essence. A mix of chicken and duck eggs may be used. It is recognised for its impossibly bright orange-yellow colour, and is commonly served at weddings or other important occasions for luck. The thin strands of yolk, infused with the fragrance of the rose water, tastes striking yet delicate. This classy, intricate item can be found in most restaurants. If you are visiting street food markets, you may even spot a skilled Foi Thong lady making it fresh. Some grocery or convenient stores may stock it in the chilled section.
Khao Niaow Ma Muang (Mango sticky rice)
Mangoes are aplenty in Thailand, and those travelling to Thailand should be glad, for you are bound to fall in love with this sweet tropical fruit with its silky smooth flesh. Mango sticky rice sees a whole mango fruit, skinned and pitted, cut into bite-sized portions, and served atop chewy glutinous rice. Rice kripsies, peanuts or other crunchy toppings, alongside coconut milk, may be poured over the dessert. The magic that pulls it all together is the impossible sweetness of the normally tart mango—it's impossible to replicate the ripeness and taste of the Thai mango. This dessert can be pretty filling, and is worth saving some stomach space for. Mango sticky rice is the quintessential Thai dessert, and can be found anywhere from street food carts to high-end restaurants.
Anyone who has pounded the streets of Thailand would have passed by a pancake stall. A dozen of them can easily be found along any single tourist street. Crispy, greasy, and highly addictive, this pancake tastes like a cross between a sweet biscuit and a fire-baked uber-thin pizza. The pancake seller usually prepares little lumps of dough, which she will toss and stretch and throw onto a hot grill with sizzling margarine. On its own, it's quite savoury. You can opt for a variety of toppings, from condensed milk to Nutella to tuna. They all taste delicious!
Coconut ice cream
Not easy to find despite being so popular, so if you stumble upon a vendor who sells coconut ice-cream, go ahead and treat yourself to a cone. The Thais love their coconuts, and nothing is quite as refreshing on a sweltering day in the tropics as this dessert. It is creamy, mild, and tastes so light you may associate it more with sorbet than ice cream. Sometimes served on a hollowed out shell of a young coconut, it may come topped with nuts or sweet corn. This simple, homely ice cream puts complicated, new-fangled flavours to shame. The best thing is, it tastes as good as it looks.