One of the most fascinating opportunities travel allows is access to authentic and traditional culinary delicacies of that region. Infact, it is fun experimenting with your palate and relishing on what people around the world are eating. And never miss on ending your meal with a local sweet. To help you choose, here is an interesting list of desserts from countries around Asia, absolutely worth trying.
1) Khanom Chan – Thailand
A green beauty, khanom chan hails from Thailand and appeals to the eyes, much before it does to your tongue. Khanom chan literally translates to dessert layers and is made from three different types of flours, coconut milk, sugar and pandan leaves – to which the dessert owes its green colour. Jasmine extract offers a beautiful aroma to this jelly like dessert which is steamed in layers of white and green. This dessert is generally made up of nine layers in total as the number is considered auspicious by the people of Thailand.
2) Ube Halaya – Philippines
Ube in Philippines is the name for purple yam and yes, there’s a dessert made from purple yam here. The delightful flavours of coconut milk blended with yam and sugar bring out a dessert that is thick in consistency and delicious in taste. Some prefer making it with condensed milk instead of coconut milk but the authenticity of flavours lies in its traditional recipe.
3) Dragon Beard Candy – China
No, it has nothing to do with a dragon’s beard. But on the brighter side, the intricacy of this sweet, that originated in China, will enchant you. Maltose syrup, sugar and rice flour form the net like, spun ball of this dessert which is later stuffed with roasted and crushed peanuts. The dessert by itself is adorably appealing and is made by hand (not machines) for just the right consistency. The process of making this sweet by hand is considered an art.
4) Kuih Kosui – Malaysia
A dark brown coloured dessert that will instantly scream to be picked up, kuih kosui hails from Malaysia and owes its colour to palm sugar. This steamed dessert is a mix of rice flour, tapioca flour, palm sugar and pandan leaves. The dark coloured sugar and the fragrant properties of pandan leaves bring together a melange of flavours. This sweet is complete only when garnished with freshly grated coconut.
5) Tavuk Gogsu – Turkey
For a dessert, this dish uses a surprising ingredient – chicken! Passed down from generations, this sweet was supposedly served to the Kings of the Ottoman Empire. Chicken breast is cooked thoroughly and is separated to threads to be mixed with rice flour, milk and sugar. This mixture is brought to a pudding like consistency and is generally sprinkled with an aromatic spice like cinnamon. A final garnish of dry fruits and this dessert will never let you know that it has chicken in it.
6) Mochi Ice-cream – Japan
A double dessert delight! Mochi is a Japanese dessert made from a type of sweet rice flour. Steamed balls of rice flour, known to the outside world as Japanese rice cakes, are dunked in sugar syrup and are dusted with cornstarch to keep them from losing shape. Mochi ice-cream is a brilliant avatar of a dessert where these cakes are stuffed with ice-cream. The most popular ice-cream flavour is green tea but there are many options to suit everybody’s choice.
7) Banh Phu The (Husband and Wife Cake) – Vietnam
Traditionally served in Vietnamese weddings, this dessert gets its name of husband and wife cake for the same reason. A sticky paste of tapioca flour or rice flour mixed with water and grated coconut forms the outer layer with a unique stuffing ingredient – mung bean paste. Small dumplings of the paste are coated with cooked mixture of the flour, steamed and traditionally presented in boxes made from coconut or pandan leaves. Apparently, the old recipes do not use any colour, but modern day methods add in colour to the flour mixture for a pleasant looking dessert during weddings.
8) Durian Pengat – Singapore
Durian pengat is a sweet pudding made from the fruit, durian. While some may confuse it with jackfruit, they are two completely different fruits, although look quite similar from the outside. The flesh of this fruit is cooked in coconut milk along with pandan leaves and palm sugar. The dessert is absolutely pleasing to the taste buds. Travellers around the world have fallen in love with this sweet and that is one more reason why you should get your hands on it when you can.
9) Knafeh – Israel
A golden-brown top garnished with dry fruits is simply inviting and knafeh is considered one of the most lavish desserts. There are three different ways of preparing knafeh but the most appealing is the one which uses very fine vermicelli. Also known as angel’s hair, this vermicelli is mixed with butter, forms the base and top of knafeh with a cheese filling (a local version of cottage cheese) sandwiched in between. This pie is then baked till the top is enchantingly golden-brown in colour and once out, it is flooded with a rose-lemon flavoured sugar syrup. A contrasting garnish of green coloured pistachios makes this sweet captivating just by the looks.
10) Sweet Red Bean Dessert Soup – Korea
Sweet red bean soup is an intriguing name and an equally fascinating dish. After all, one rarely hears about red beans being used in a dessert! This Korean sweet is made from cooked beans mashed and stewed in water along with sugar, salt and occasional use of sweet spices. That’s not all, this soup from Korea has small dumplings made from rice flour which are also called bird eggs! In ancient times, Koreans believed that red colour wards off evil spirits and hence, this sweet was cooked during festivals.