14 September 2018

Khanom Chor Muang & Khanom Jeab Nok (Thai Steamed Flower & Bird Dumplings)

Recent months, I've been intrigued by Thai desserts, especially the traditional ones that are served to the Thai Royalty since ancient times. I had wanted to go to BKK to attend classes but couldn't find the time.

Then, last weekend I happened to be at northern Chonburi and took the opportunity to visit a Thai Traditional Dessert Cafe called Hom's House at the Bang Saen area. Totally fell in love with the cafe, as well as the desserts served there!

My desire to make these intricate and pretty looking desserts was so strong and after watching several YouTube videos and researching in online recipes, I thought I would start with this Khanom Chor Muang as out of all the desserts I tried, I love this the most, as it's both sweet and savoury. It's basically a chicken dumpling but palm sugar is added to the chicken filling so it's sweet. I thought it's more apt as an appetiser but the Thais categorised it as a dessert.

Anyways, bought ingredients, tools and even similar serve ware (as the cafe) and this whole week I'm basically eating and breathing Chor Muang!! LOL!!

Proudly presenting my Khanom Chor Muang which is Thai Steamed Flower Dumplings and Khanom Jeab Nok which is Bird Dumplings. For the flower dumpling, anchan or butterfly bluepea flower is used as colouring; I wanted to get a pink flower so used beetroot but the colour turned out white -_-

A crimping tool (the thais call it Chor Muang tweezer) is used to shape the flower petals, yes petal by petal. It's quite therapeutic I must say. The Bird is much harder to shape and crimp!

All in all, I made three batches (five actually but threw out two - problems with cooking the dough and a particular recipe). So why three? The first batch (above picture), I used beetroot to colour the flowers pink but they turned out white. In addition, the texture of the dumpling is slightly different from what I ate, it's a bit hard and less soft and chewy.

The second batch (below picture), I intensified the beetroot water and the colour turned out more visible but it's more orangey than pink -__-. I also experimented with a different flour to try to get better texture but failed.

As for the third & final batch (same picture below - in blue), I changed the proportion of the flours used and hey, the texture turned out slightly closer to the one I tried! Yippeee! In addition, I used another crimping tweezer to create a different flower. Can see the difference? There are 2 videos below that show both crimping.

Anyways, I'm pleased that I managed to make this dessert! It's definitely not 100% yet, but I'm satisfied for now. Hopefully will make more improvements along the way. Let me rest from Chor Muang for some time first :p

Here's sharing my process of making Chor Muang. Like I said, this is not a perfect recipe yet yah. The full recipe will be after the brief explanations.

First step, cooking the chicken filling. Ingredients are simple, minced chicken, onion, coriander root, garlic, palm sugar, salt, white pepper, fish sauce and oil.

First of all, pound the coriander root with garlic and white pepper into a paste. In a frying pan, add the cooking oil, saute the paste till fragrant, then add onion and chicken. Finally season with palm sugar, fish sauce and salt (to taste). The filling shouldn't be too wet else difficult to wrap into the dough later.

Second step, will be the dough. Ingredients include rice flour, tapioca starch, arrowroot starch (or mung bean starch), glutinous rice flour, coconut milk, water (which can be coloured according to preference).

I use butterfly bluepea flower for blue, beetroot for pink and just water for white (the bird).

Mix all the ingredients together to form a runny batter. If necessary use your hand to do the mixing as there might be bits of undissolved flour. Alternatively, sieve the batter after mixing. I use my hand LOL!

Next comes the cooking of the batter into dough. Pour the batter into a COLD, NON-STICK pan, it's important! If the pan is hot, it will cook the batter to a rubbery dough (yes I tried it, it's one of a batch I threw out). Cook the batter using low heat (I'm using electric induction cooker, temperature is 60 degree celsius), stir constantly. It will get thicker and sticky and eventually come together in a dough. It took around 8-10 mins per batch colour. Non-stick pan is very useful here, makes it easier to cook the dough. And the pan is clean after each batch, no need to clean the pan between batches.

Now, the dough will still be very sticky, sprinkle some tapioca starch on a mat and knead the dough till smooth and not so sticky (it will still be a little tacky like soft play dough, when pull apart it stretches a little). Basically the dough will be slightly hot to touch initially and knead till it's barely warm.

Third step, wrapping the filling into the dough and crimp into shape! Please refer to the pictures below and a short video on the steps. Each dough ball is around 10.5g-11g. Filling is about half teaspoon.

For this particular flower design, the crimping tweezer is like a leaf shape. A bit tough initially, but after practising a few, it became manageable. Remember to dust with some tapioca starch in between crimps, otherwise the dough will stick onto the tweezer.

Fourth and final step, steaming the dumplings. Prepare a steamer on medium high heat. Place a banana leaf onto the steamer, brush with some cooking oil to prevent the dumplings from sticking to the leaf. Place the dumplings onto the leaf, using a spray bottle to spray some water onto the dumplings to prevent them from drying. Steam for 10 mins, after they are done, brush the surface of the dumplings with oil to give a little shine and prevent them from drying. 

Here are the before steaming pictures of the "pink" flower and the birdies, so cute right? But seriously they look nice but difficult to shape and too much dough :p

Yep, the "pink" flowers became white.

And so I made a second batch! For the first batch, I merely soak cubes of beetroot into cold water, probably that's why the colour wasn't intensed enough. This batch, I blended the beetroot and soak it in hot water for a longer amount of time. The colour turned out much better and I was quite happy!

BUT, after steaming, the colour turned out orangey rather than pink pink! Oh well -_- maybe next time try another type of natural colour or just use food colouring? Hmmm....

For the second batch, I also replaced arrowroot starch with mung bean starch to see if the texture of the dumpling would improve. Nope, didn't make much difference. 

And so I made my third batch! Increased the amount of tapioca starch and reduced rice flour, and also used a different crimping tweezer, which is more squarish shape. Below is another video of how the crimping looks like.


Hope that the explanations above are useful! Here's the full recipe.

Khanom Chor Muang ~ Thai Steamed Flower Dumpling
(each batch of dough weighs about 130g, makes 11-12 flower dumplings or 8-9 bird dumplings )

(A) Chicken Filling (enough to make 3 batches of dumplings)
  • 150g chicken thigh, minced
  • 70g onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 coriander root
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 25g palm sugar
  • 1.5-2 tbsp fish sauce, to taste
  • Pinch salt, to taste
  • 2 tsp cooking oil
  1. Pound the garlic, coriander root and white pepper into a paste.
  2. In a frying pan, add cooking oil on medium heat.
  3. Add paste (from 1) and saute till fragrant. 
  4. Add onion and fry till slightly translucent.
  5. Add minced chicken and fry till cooked. Use spatula and break up the minced chicken into smaller pieces during frying.
  6. Season with palm sugar, fish sauce and salt, to taste.
  7. If filling is too wet, turn up heat and simmer till sauce dries up. The filling is just a little moist.
  8. Dish and set aside.

(B) Dough (quantity is for one batch, repeat to get 3 batches)
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 2 tbsp tapioca starch
  • 2 tsp arrowroot starch or mung bean starch
  • 2 tsp glutinous rice flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp butterfly bluepea water or beetroot water or just water
  • Butterfly pea flower water - soak 10g bluepea flower in 50g hot water for at least 30 mins.
  • Beetroot water - blend 15-20g beetroot and soak in 50g hot water for at least 30 mins.
  1.  Mix the 4 types of flour/starch together.
  2. Add coconut milk and mix well till no bits of flour.
  3. Add bluepea water/beetroot water/water and mix well.
  4. Sieve the batter to get rid of fine bits of flour (or use hand to mix the batter).
  5. Add the batter into COLD frying pan on very low heat. Stir the batter till it thickens and eventually comes together into a dough. Each batch takes 8-10 mins. Repeat for 3 batches. The dough will be sticky.
  6. Sprinkle tapicoa starch onto a mat, knead the dough till barely warm, and texture less sticky.
  7. Dough weight is around 125-130g. *For the flower dumpling, divide dough into 11-12 pcs, each piece around 10.5g to 11g. For the bird dumpling, divide dough into 8-9 pcs, each around 14-15g)
  8. Shape dough to circle/bowl, scoop half teaspoon of chicken filling into the centre, close up the dough and roll into a ball. *for the bird dumpling, after closing the dough, pinch some excess dough to form the head and neck of the bird.
  9. Use crimping tweezer to crimp the ball into flowers. *For the bird, crimp lines for the bird's body. 
  10. For the bird's beak, cut carrot into small triangles and stick the carrot into the head. For the eyes, stick black sesame seeds.
  11. Prepare a steamer on high heat, place banana leaves into the steamer. Once water boils, brush the banana leaves with oil and place the dumplings onto the leaves. Spray the dumplings with water.
  12. Steam the dumplings for 10 mins. Once done, brush the surface of the dumplings with some oil.
  13. Scoop the dumplings into serving plate and serve with fried garlic, lettuce, coriander and chilli.
  14. Best eaten warm and on the same day.


Hope the recipe and videos would be useful! Below are more food porn LOL!

It has been an exciting week for me to make these dumplings. Hope to find time to attempt more Thai desserts, stay tuned!