Khanom Thuai Talai (ขนมถ้วยตะไล), often shortened to just Khanom Thuai, is a simple but delicious dessert that you must try when visiting Sakon Nakhon. It’s unlikely that you’ll see this dessert offered at a Sakon Nakhon restaurant, but you will find packages of Khanom Thuai sold at food markets, and occasionally at Thai noodle shops and roadside food stalls. The price is usually around 25 baht for a package of 6 Khanom Thuai.
Khanom Thuai is pronounced “ka-nohm too-ay,” an alternative spelling being Kanom Tuay. It’s made simply with rice flour, coconut milk, and sugar. It is described by foodies as steamed milk pudding or Thai rice custard. Sakon Nakhon has some of the best Khanom Thuai in Thailand, because the makers often use fresh milk from coconuts just chopped down from the tree, pure Thai cane sugar, and sometimes they add just a drop of Pandan leaf essence, which is a flavoring also used in a variety of Thai dishes. Pandan leaves also can be used to make a delicious Thai iced tea.
Khanom Thuai has a creamy custard-like top (sometimes sprinkled with a little salt) and a soft and sticky bottom, which contrast perfectly to make it a favorite dessert not only in Sakon Nakhon, but all of Thailand. Outside of Sakon Nakhon, the Bangkok district of Pom Prap Sattru Phai also is known for producing some of the best Kanom Tuay in Thailand, with pastry chefs selling the dessert at Nang Loeng market. Its best to eat the entire package of Khanom Thuai on the day you bought them, which isn’t hard to do because they are small and so delicious. But you can refrigerate them overnight (or leave them at room temperature) to finish them the next day.
Khanom Thuai Talai translates to “desert cup sweets,” with the word Khanom meaning sweets, and Thuai Talai meaning a dessert/confection cup. Note that the Thai word Khanom does not always mean a type of small sweet. It also can be used to refer to any type of small snack. It is often used as the first word in a compound word that names a type of food. For example, the compound word Khanom Bpang is the Thai word for bread or biscuit. If you would like to learn more about the Thai language, check out our mini-lessons at: Learn Thai Language & Culture.
Lastly, if you have a sweet tooth, you’ll also want to sample the pyramid shaped Kanom Tian when visiting Sakon Nakhon. To learn about this delicious dessert snack, which is wrapped in fresh banana leaves, read our article on the best Kanom Tian in Thailand.