Monthly Archives: February 2006

Khanom Chun – layered dessert

Khanom chun

The other day, I was having a conversation with one of the teachers in the lift. As usual, she had bought some Thai desserts from the market to share with her fellow teachers. She asked what my favourites were and I had to admit that I had only eaten a few. What sprang to mind, were the delicious desserts khanom mor gaeng and also the equally delicious khao nieow dtut.  Now, most people at the school know I am writing Thai Food blogs, so she immediately volunteered to educate me in Thai desserts! And so today, she came up to me with a bag full of Thai desserts for me to photograph and taste! She explained which ones I had to eat straight away and which ones I could save for a later day by putting in the refrigerator. I can tell you, I was really stuffed today. But, it was a really good introduction.

Today I am going to introduce you to khanom chun, or layered dessert. It is named like this because it has nine layers. As you may know, this is an auspicious number. So, it is often used for important ceremonies such as job promotion (representing going up levels) and at weddings. In the above example, each layer is a shade of green. I have seen ones before where it was green/white stripes. If you have read my previous blog about khanom thuay you might be able to guess where the green comes from. Yes, it is from the pandanus leaf. You make the liquid by putting it in a blender and then straining it though muslin.

To make this dessert, mix the coconut milk and sugar. Bring to boil and then set aside. Mix the topioca flour with the plain flour and add coconut milk. Knead the mixture. Add the coconut milk and sugar which you had set aside. Now separate them into two containers. in one add the green water from the pandanus leaves. Leave the other white. (In the case above, some pandanus water was added to the coconut milk before boiling. Then later, more was added to the second container to make a darker shade of green.) Grease the mould with some coconut milk and then heat it in a steamer. First, add some of the white mixture and steam for 5–10 minutes. Then repeat this with the green mixture, white mixture etc. Finish with a green layer. Leave in the mould for 3–4 hours before removing it. Sounds quite labour intensive, especially as they only sell for 10 baht! The result is quite tasty. I would eat it again for sure.

Isaan’s Chiang Khan

The town of Chiang Khan is I believe part of that mythical entity “The real Thailand”. Located in the Isaan province of Loei it can be found in a valley leading onto the Mekong River about 50 kilometres from the provincial capital which is also called Loei. Arriving at the outskirts of Chiang Khan is revealed a busy rural but on first impression unremarkable town. However once you have navigated the roads and the Sois that lead to the river you reach a long narrow river front road lined with a combination of teak timber and brick shop fronts and houses.


Once you have checked into one of the many guesthouses that line the street, its time to kick back on the guesthouse balcony and see what makes Chiang Khan special. The Mekong is much narrower here than further down river towards Nong Khai and gives a much clearer view into Laos. Wooden riverboats flying Lao and Thai flags putter up the river and in the dry season you can look up and down the river on both the Thai and Lao sides and see the market gardens that have been set up on the fertile riverbanks. The only sign of frenetic activity are the passenger speedboats screaming down the river, clocking awesome speeds. All and all just a good spot to sit back relax and enjoy a few beers.


About 4 kilometres down stream from Chiang Khan are the Kaeng Khut Khu rapids. At the rapids are a leafy park and a market. Stretching along the river opposite the market is a long thatched roof dining area. Sitting on raised bamboo platforms you can order delicious Isaan food including the local areas specialty – Kung Ten (dancing prawns). These are fresh still alive river prawns which are eaten or swallowed whole with a special sauce. Kaeng Khut Khu is a great place to while away a few hours eating, drinking and just taking in the scene.

kaeng khut khu

After spending a few days in Chiang Khan I always better in myself. Why I don’t always know. Perhaps it’s the quiet, the friendliness of the townspeople, the fogs that roll down the river in the winter or perhaps just the little things such as the “klunk” echo that you hear bouncing across the river when something is dropped in the guesthouse or the shouted conversations out to the people on riverboats. All I know is that when I finally do leave each time, I have an underlying desire to return.

In future blogs I would like to expand further on other parts of that magic part of Thailand – The Mekong region. In the meantime if you are interested I have posted photographs of Chiang Khan and other parts of the Mekong on my website. Just click on the following link.


Fried Rice with pork

Fried rice with pork

Probably one of the simplest meals to cook is fried rice. If you want to go down the path to cooking Thai food then this is a great one to start with. I cook this one every now and then as it is a good way to use up rice left over from the day before. You can use seafood or meat, it is up to you. In the above dish, pork was cooked in a frying pan first. Then an egg was broken into the pan and mixed up. Cooked rice was then added. It is important that this is rice left over and not fresh rice. You then add some fried garlic, chopped onion and tomato slices and then later season with soy sauce/fish sauce, sugar, salt and some chili sauce. When it is finally ready, garnish with coriander and sliced spring onion. Very simple and delicious.

You can watch the making of this meal on video. It is number 15 on the list of videos which you can download for free on this page:

Kalasins Museum

Let’s go to the museum, oh what a lovely idea. One step better than the dentist office or I’d rather have a lobotomy.
“Oh, look the shard is from a 1,000 year old pot that who cares what was stored in it”. And how do they really know, anyhow?
“Oh, look an obsidium arrow head used by pre-nasal man to kill whatever animal was on the menu”.
Also for a kid it’s wonderful,”don’t run. don’t make noise, don’t tuch that”
Museums with narrow aisles jammed with display cases aren’t my cup of tea, nor the ones where the lighting is terrible and I can’t see in their display cases for the reflection from the sun or flourescent light.
Museums can be one royal bore.
Museums should be educational, interesting, comfortable and fun all at the same time.

The Museum in Kalasin fills that bill in spades.
If you want to learn ablout life in Isaan this is the place to come. Even if you don’t care about life in Isaan this place is brilliant and I bet you get interested or at least enjoy the place. Lifelike plaster figures depict scenes of Isaan life, from a woman gving birth, morlom, monks and people in their homes, to death.

Tools and musical instruments are on display, and you can even touch them. Dioramas or vignettes or whatever they are called lifelike and well presented.

The display rooms are bright and spacious, and spread nicely over the whole first floor of the old sala khan (2d floor for Americans).

If you’re ever in the area this is the place stop. Kalasin has tonnes of stuff to see and do, from dinosaurs to the best silk in Thailand. More about the province in the future.
The pictures tell a better story than me, so enjoy.



Fact: I do deeply believe in God
Fact: I do not absolutely like to give the God I do believe in any name.
GOD is.
I passionately support Glasgow Celtic F.C., but this is a football team while God is and shall remain an inner personal matter. God shall not become like a football team whose hooligans sometimes beat and kill each other “happily”.
Fact: I am very close to Buddhist philosophy and I repeat PHILOSOPHY and not religion.

Fact, while flying from Calcutta to Hyderabad I could, unfortunately, read as follows:

“The All India Hindu Personal Law has announced a cash reward of 101 crores of Rupees (a figures with so many zeroes to write) for the person who will behead a painter, Maqbool Fida Husain, for having recently made a nude painting of Bharat Mata and previously some “obscene” paintings about some Hindu Gods.”

On the same page another article reads like this:

“In Uttar Pradesh, a state minister called Haji Yakub Qureshi made a smilar announcement for the head of the Danish cartoonist who made the now unfortunately famous “blasphemous” cartoons.”

And all this in the name of God?
And I wonder how many more people will have to die in this world “In the name of God”?
And I wonder which God may ever wish a human being to die or kill in his name?

I look back at history, at the “Crusades”, at the “Inquisition”, at “9/11”, at “the Irish civil war” to name a few of many more and the only conclusion is that religion, and not money, is the root of all evil, religion is the cause of the state of the world as it is nowadays where everyone pretends to have the one and only “Word of God” and everyone pretends to convert the other or better to force the other to his beliefs.
Those who are not sharing those beliefs are “infidels” or “will go to hell”, are we sure that this is the word of God?
No, I am sure THIS IS NOT THE WORD OF GOD, this is the word of human beings who want to grab power and money and to do that they use God.
I do believe that God needs no words because God is Peace and Peace is about Silence, if we really love God then we have to love peace, if we really long for God then we have to long for Peace.
I really think that more all preachers are shouting “their God” the more they are going far away from Him and in so doing they are also bringing their followers far away from Him.

But today’s outlook is really quite depressing, isn’t it? Even Mr. Bush is claiming that God is guiding him… wow! God shall be very busy in guiding so many people who are so much happy at hurting, harming and killing each other!
If it would really be like this I suppose that it would be much better if God will take a long, very long holiday.

I anyway respect any people’s faith, I may not agree with it but surely I deeply respect any personal choice and I do believe that everyone shall be doing the same, it would be the first real step towards peace.

Then, one day, thanks to a dear friend’s advice I set my eyes on a book that I think shall be given out free to everyone, a text that shall be read in all schools instead of having religion hours and book that I humbly advice everyone to read.
I did not (of course) wrote it, I will not gain from its sales and I have no shares of its publishing company so if I dare to whisper to people to buy and read this book is that because as a social worker I feel that something radical shall be done to change this world, there is too much injustice, to much poverty, too much pain and desperation. Still, I do believe the world could become a much better place to live for my kids and my grandkids and everyone of us.
I do surely believe in God and I do believe in people but I do not believe anymore in religion as it is now, just power and fundamentalism.

Give this book a try, is not even too much expensive… try to read it… and think about it… and remember that a big wave always starts from a small ripple.
I care, I care about what kind of world I will leave to my children, to my grandchildren and I feel and I hope I can still write these words without fear of having my head removed from the rest of my old and fat body.

By the way, the book’s name is: “WHAT GOD WANTS” by Neale Donald Walsch.

Hyderabad (India), February 24, 2006

C – Copyright / Claudio Romano
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