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Good things come in small packages

PHUKET: A vendor frying little balls in a big pan at the market fair in Soi Baan Bor-rae, on Muangthong-Khoa Khad Rd, east of Phuket, has caught my attention. I wonder what these small balls are?

Friday 20 January 2012, 09:55AM

Vendor Narin Koombaan serves khanom khai nok krata.

Vendor Narin Koombaan serves khanom khai nok krata.

Upon closer inspection, I discover these interesting snacks are khanom khai nok krata, the Thai name for dough balls. The word khanom means dessert or snack, and the words khai nok krata means quail’s egg.

This snack is the same size as a quail’s egg, hence the name, says local vendor Narin Koombaan.

But the similarity between these fried sweet potato balls and actual quail’s eggs extends beyond the size; the outer shells of the balls, when pressed, collapses and cracks in a similar manner to eggshells.

The snack has been popular since the Sukhothai period, but its exact origins are lost to history. Ms Narin said that the crispness is due to the limestone water. Everyday Ms Narin bakes sweet potatoes until they are cooked through.

She peels off the skins, mashes the potatoes, and leaves them to cool off completely and dry out a little. They must be cooled and dried because otherwise the balls will be sticky, rather than crispy.

UWC Thailand

Then she carefully mixes the mashed sweet potatoes with tapioca flour, rice flour, wheat flour, sugar, water and limestone water.

After that, she makes a small ball and fries it in hot oil until it turns golden.
When the dough balls hit the oil, they puff up slightly.

The inside becomes light and airy whereas the outside forms a very thin and crispy shell. The flavor is mildly sweet.

Her stall is at the Mudong market fair every day from 3pm to 7pm. This snack is also easily found elsewhere.       

  –Sukunya Phoonpong

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