Site logo

Khanom Dok Bua: Cheap Thai Pancake Dessert

Khanom Dok Bua (ขนมดอกบัว) is a sweet Thai pancake found occasionally at outdoor markets in Thailand. It is one of our favorite snacks, a runner up to Thai fried bananas. While other sweets, such as Roti and Khanom Bueang (ขนมเบื้อง), often are called Thai pancakes, Khanom Dok Bua is the only doughy sweet really deserving of the name.

Khanom Dok Bua is sometimes translated as “Lotus Candy,” but a better translation would be “Sweet Lotus Flower Snack” — as the Thai word “dok bua” (ดอกบัว) means lotus flower, and the word khanom (ขนม) in this context means a sweet snack or dessert.

In Bangkok and central Thailand, these pancakes often are called Khanom Fakbua (ขนมฝักบัว), which translates to “shower cake”. It was given this name due to the air bubbles inside of the fried dough, which reminded people of the water bubbles of a shower. Over the years, the word “fak bua” (ฝักบัว) has acquired the secondary meaning of “Thai pancake”.

In the South of Thailand, they are known as Joojun (จูจุ่น), the second part of the name, “jun” (จุ่น) referring to how the center of the pancake bulges out.

You’ll commonly see these small, round pancakes served at wedding ceremonies and other special events in Thailand, as this type of dessert (like Thai mooncakes) symbolizes prosperity and good fortune. In the past, it also was a sweet that grandmothers would commonly cook for their grandchildren, as they are tasty and cheap to make.

When sold at markets here in Sakon Nakhon (Northeast Thailand), you can usually buy six of these deep fried pancakes for only 20 baht.

 

Best Thai Pancakes
Northeastern Thai pancakes (Khanom Dok Bua) have a soft puffy center and crispy edges.

How are Thai Pancakes Made?

The traditional ingredients for Khanom Dok Bua include only rice flour, palm sugar, and water, sometimes with a little added coconut milk. These ingredients are combined to make a round doughy cake that is deep fried.

Today, many Thai pancake cooks add pandan juice to the water, making it a beautiful green color that is delicious to eat. Sometimes other natural colors are also used.

The defining features of Khanom Dok Bua are its soft dough with raised edges, a puffed up sweet center, and a back side that resembles the bottom of a lotus flower. In Northeast Thailand (Isaan), pastry cooks will make this Thai pancake with dark brown edges that give it a nice crisp texture that contrasts deliciously with the sweet and soft, puffed up, center.

Khanom Dok Bua Recipe

Ingredients

1) 2 cups rice flour

2) ¼ cup glutinous rice flour

3) 1/4 cup white sugar

4) 1/4 cup coconut or palm sugar

5) 1/2 cup pandan flavored water

6) 1 tablespoon coconut milk

7) A pinch of salt

8) 2 cups of oil

Process/Steps

1) Dissolve the sugar and salt in the pandan flavored water, and then stir in the coconut milk. Then pour in both types of flour. Stir until all ingredients are mixed together. It should be a smooth, thick, well-mixed pancake dough, with bubbles on the inside. Set this aside.

2) Heat oil in a pan. You should use a small, deep pan. Wait until the oil is hot. Scoop the batter into the frying pan, one piece at a time, taking care to pour oil over the dough evenly while frying. When the center rises and the edges of the pancake begin to brown and crisp, flip it over and fry it on the other side until it’s cooked through. Then scoop it out and drain the oil.

Lastly, it is always best to east these Thai pancakes while they are fresh and hot. After 30 minutes or so, they are not nearly as tasty.

 

David Alan
Sakon Nakhon Isaan