The Elegance of Khanohm Khaang Khaao (ขนมค้างคาว)

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If palaces represent grandeur and wealth within a society, and poems often focus on emotional experience or the beauty of language, then the significance of a dumpling may be inferred by its structured elegance and minimalism – each fold and pleat a deliberate act, and each filling a curated experience constructing comfort in its most elemental form.

Khanom khaang khaao (ขนมค้างคาว) is a traditional Siamese fried, triangular-shaped dumpling with obvious Chinese origins. Its earliest recorded recipe can be traced back to Jao Khraawk Thaawng Yuu (เจ้าครอกทองอยู่), a distinguished aristocrat from the royal court of Ayutthaya. Historical records indicate that, from the early days of the Rattanakosin era, her recipe was a favored snack within the Siamese royal court.

These dumplings are shaped like triangles and, according to some, resemble bats: For this reason, they are called khanom khaang khaao (ขนมค้างคาว) – ‘the bat’s treat’. The dumpling’s dough is made from rice and mung bean flours; its filling is prepared by combining grated coconut and shrimp meat, which are cooked together into a dense, flavorful mixture that brings out the nutty-sweet taste of the grated coconut and the savory-sweet flavors of the shrimp. Kaffir lime leaves, sliced into hair-thin juliennes, add a hint of citrus.

Once the dumplings are filled and folded, they are ready for cooking. Coated in batter, the dumplings are fried until they achieve a golden crust. Traditionally, these dumplings are served with ajat, a refreshing condiment made by quick-pickling cucumber, shallots and long red chilies in vinegar and sugar.

Jao Khraawk Thaawng Yuu (เจ้าครอกทองอยู่) and Jao Khraawk Wat Pho (เจ้าครอกวัดโพธิ์)

In the early Rattanakosin era, two ladies, Jao Khraawk Thaawng Yuu (เจ้าครอกทองอยู่) and Jao Khraawk Wat Pho (เจ้าครอกวัดโพธิ์) created dishes that blended Siamese cuisine with traditional Chinese flavors. Among their elaborate recipes were dumplings – symbols of wealth and power at the time.

Together, the ladies and their companions would bring dumplings to the Grand Palace, the court of King Rama II, once every three to four months. Specifically, Jao Khraawk Thaawng Yuu was recognized for her khanohm khaang khaao (ขนมค้างคาว), while Jao Khraawk Wat Pho (เจ้าครอกวัดโพธิ์) became renowned for her khanohm sai muu (ขนมไส้หมู) – pork dumplings. Both snacks held a special place in the culinary traditions of the Siamese royal family.

Princess Naritsara Nuwattiwong (พระเจ้าไปยิกาเธอ กรมหลวงนรินทรเทวี), also known as Jao Khraawk Wat Pho (เจ้าครอกวัดโพธิ์), was the spouse of Krom Muen Narinrathipitak (กรมหมื่นนรินทรพิทักษ์). Apart from her acclaimed pork dumplings, she is renowned for her memoirs, entitled Jot Mai Khwam Song Cham (จดหมายความทรงจำ), which offer a unique female perspective on the Thai royal family. Her writings span a range of topics, including historical events, royal matters and personal experiences.

Jao Khraawk Thaawng Yuu

Jao Khraawk Thaawng Yuu (เจ้าครอกทองอยู่), also referred to as Khun Thaawng Yuu (คุณทองอยู่), served as a noblewoman in the royal courts of Ayutthaya, Thonburi (กรุงธนบุรี), and subsequently, during the early Rattanakosin era. The title ‘Jao Khraawk’ signifies her royal association, while ‘Khun Thaawng Yuu’ connotes a more informal tone, potentially alluding to her attributes of beauty or virtue. In this context, ‘thaawng’ translates to ‘gold’, and ‘yuu’ means ‘to exist’, suggesting a presence as precious as gold

During the Ayutthaya era, Jao Khraawk Thaawng Yuu held a position of service under Princess Chanthawadee (เจ้าฟ้าหญิงจันทวดี), the esteemed royal daughter of King Borommarachathirat III (สมเด็จพระบรมราชาธิราชที่ ๓). However, when the whereabouts of Princess Chanthawadee became unknown following the second fall of Ayutthaya in 1767, Khun Thaawng Yuu accompanied Princess Pinthawadee (เจ้าฟ้าหญิงพินทวดี) to Thonburi.

Princess Pinthawadee was imprisoned by the Burmese and freed by King Taksin. While in Thonburi, Jao Khraawk Thaawng Yuu married Luang Rittinayawen (หลวงฤทธินายเวร), who was the governor of Nakhon Ratchasima. While in Nakhon Ratchasima, Khun Thaawng Yuu would periodically travel to Bangkok , andin 1782, when Bangkok was established as the capital of the Rattanakosin Kingdom, Khun Thaawng Yuu moved to live in the Rear Palace (วังหลัง), where she was known by the titles, ‘Inner Lady of Wang Lang (เจ้าข้างในวังหลัง)’ and ‘Jao Khraawk Thaawng Yuu (เจ้าครอกทองอยู่)’.

When King Rama I ascended the throne of Krung Rattanakosin on April 6, 1782, he implemented various administrative changes, including the granting of royal titles to nobility (ข้าหลวงเดิม)  and high-ranking officials.. As such, the King appointed Jao Khraawk Thaawng Yuu’s husband, Phraya Suriyawong (พระยาสุริยอภัย (ทองอิน)), as deputy viceroy to King. He was given the titles of ‘Chao Fa Krom Luang Anurak Tevet (กรมหลวงอนุรักษ์เทเวศร์)’ and ‘Krom Phra Ratchawang Bowon Sathan Phimuk (กรมพระราชวังบวรสถานพิมุข)’, and also granted the Wang Lang Palace (วังหลัง), near Lychee Garden (สวนลิ้นจี่), at the mouth of the Bangkok Noi Canal (ปากคลองบางกอกน้อย) – where Siriraj Hospital and the Thonburi Railway Station are currently located.

Palace Visits

According to Lady Plean Passakornrawong, Jao Khraawk Thaawng Yuu, together with her friend Jao Khraawk Wat Pho, visited the Grand Palace every three or four months. The visits followed the same pattern: The two ladies were granted audiences with His Majesty Rama II, during which they offered the King savory snacks, including dumplings and khanohm khaang khaao (ขนมค้างคาว). At these royal audiences, Khun Thaawng Yuu was referred to as ‘The Inner Lady of Wang Lang (ท่านข้างในวังหลัง)’.

Jao Khraawk Thaawng Yuu and Jao Khraawk Wat Pho would meet every couple of months to plan and coordinate these Royal visits to the Grand Palace. A servant from the palace would cross the river to meet and inform them of the exact time and date. On the appointed day, Jao Khraawk Thaawng Yuu, would take a boat to the pier near Wat Phra Chetuphon (Wat Pho) (วัดพระเชตุพน). A servant would then invite Jao Khraawk Wat Pho to board the boat and the group would proceed to the palace pier, today known as Ratchaworadit Pier (Tha Rat) (ท่าราชวรดิษฐ์).

The visitors would bring both savory and steamed dumplings to the palace. The snack bowls, about 50 in number, were placed on two large trays, covered with red cloths, and carried by servants into the Grand Palace. Upon reaching the Atthachan Thon Phikkul Gate (อัฒจันท์ต้นพิกุล), the two women would also carry some of these offerings into the palace.

A typical visit entailed arriving at the Grand Palace at 5 AM and departing at 5 PM. The ladies would be present during the royal audience, where they would be acknowledged by the King, who would declare that on this day he would have savory snacks (ขนมคั้งคาว) and steamed dumplings (ขนมจีบ). Then, the ladies, along with the royal attendants who set up the offerings, would be invited to present the gifts.

During the audience, Jao Khraawk Wat Pho would be referred to as ‘Aku (อากุ)’ and Jao Khraawk Thaawng Yuu as ‘The Inner Lady of Wang Lang (ท่านข้างในวังหลัง)’. Following each audience, the women returned to their respective residences, returning to the palace three or four months later.

King Rama II

King Rama II of Siam
King Rama II of Siam

King Rama II (รามาธิบดีที่ 2) held a deep appreciation for dumplings in the poetic sense as well as the gastronomic. This sentiment is reflected in a verse from the Boat Poem (พระนิพนธ์เห่เรือ), composed by the King when he was still known as Prince Isarasundhorn (ประยุทธ์อิศราสุธรรม):

Wrapped dumplings, neatly tied,
Beautiful as if crafted by skilled hands.
Thinking of my love, torn apart,
I carry these dumplings, folded close and tight.

ขนมจีบเจ้าจีบห่อ    งามสมสอประพิมพาย
นึกน้องนุ่งฉีกทวาย  ชายพกจีบกลีบแนบเนียน

Prince Isarasundhorn (ประยุทธ์อิศราสุธรรม)

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In this verse, “wrapped dumplings, neatly tied” are a metaphor for the ideal state of love and unity that Prince Isarasundhorn sought to achieve with his beloved, Princess Bunrot.

“Crafted by skilled hands” could refer to the forces of fate that initially united the lovers; however, these lines also delve into the emotional toll of their separation. The poet is “thinking of my love, torn apart” while carrying these “dumplings, folded close and tight.” The verse encapsulates the tension between the ideal love the prince yearned for and the harsh reality that separated the paramours, offering both a personal reflection and a universal commentary on the complexities of love.

Lady Plean and Jao phrayaa Passakornrawong

Lady Plean Passakornrawong offers three recipes for khanohm khaang khaao (ขนมค้างคาว)

In her 1908 culinary bible Mae Khrua Huaa Bpaa (MKHP), Lady Plean Passakornrawong shared three recipes for khanom khaang khaao (ขนมค้างคาว). The first is Jao Krok Thong Yoo’s recipe, attributed to the Rear Palace. The second is Queen Sri Savarindira’s (สมเด็จพระพันวรรษา) version. The third is, perhaps, Lady Plean Passakornrawong’s own, as she simply labeled it “another version”.

1. Jao Krok Thong Yoo’s version

For the dough, dumpling flour (แป้งขนมจีบ) is mixed with mung bean flour (ถั่วทอง) and kneaded in hot water.

The filling consists of grated coconut (มะพร้าว) and shrimp meat. The original recipe includes shrimp, coconut, and kaffir lime leaves; however, the preparation method is not provided. The ingredient combination is similar to the shrimp-coconut topping served with khaao niaao naa goong (ข้าวเหนียวหน้ากุ้ง), a gelatinous rice dish cooked in coconut cream.

For the batter, coconut cream is mixed with dumpling flour (แป้งขนมจีบ) and a pinch of salt.

Either coconut oil or pork lard can be used for frying.

Lady Plean Passakornrawong shapes the dough into triangles instead of rounds. Rather than placing the filling on the flat dough, she first folds the dough into triangles, leaving a hole to insert the filling.

2. Queen Sri Savarindira’s version

For the dough, the grated white flesh of the coconut is combined with pounded unripe rice flour (ข้าวเม่า) and kneaded while gradually adding hot water until the dough is soft and pliable. The dough is then covered with a damp cloth and left to rest.

The filling consists of finely chopped prawns sautéed in pork lard until cooked, along with thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves. It is seasoned with salt.

For the batter, coconut cream is mixed with rice flour (แป้งญวน).

Either coconut oil or pork lard can be used for frying.

3. Lady Plean Passakornrawong’s version

This version is similar to Queen Sri Savarindira’s, except that mashed cooked taro is used in place of the pounded unripe rice (ข้าวเม่า) flour .

As Lady Plean notes, substituting pounded unripe rice flour with taro alters both the taste and texture of the dumpling. The taro adds a subtle sweetness and a softer, more pastry-like consistency. In addition to enhancing the texture, the taro brings another layer of symbolism to the dish, as the root is closely associated with prosperity and fertility in Chinese culture. The starchy, slightly chewy taro creates an appealing contrast against the soft, savory shrimp filling. As well, it highlights the dumpling’s golden, crisp exterior, presenting a unique culinary experience aligned with royal customs. The taro dumpling thus becomes an edible symbol of prosperity and divine favor.

khanohm khaang khaao (ขนมค้างคาว) – Crispy Coconut-Shrimp Bat-Shaped Dumplings

*khanohm khaang khaao* (ขนมค้างคาว) is a traditional Siamese dumpling with historical significance dating back to the Ayutthaya period. This delicacy was crafted by a noblewoman of the royal court, Jao Khraawk Thaawng Yuu, and became a favored snack in the early Rattanakosin era. Shaped into triangles resembling bats, which is also what their name translates to, these dumplings follows the recipe by Lady Plean Passakornrawong that features a dough made from rice flour and steamed taro. The filling is a blend of grated coconut and shrimp meat, cooked together to create a dense and rich flavor profile that balances the nuttiness of coconut with the savory sweetness of shrimp. The fragrance of kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced, infuses the dumplings with a hint of citrus. After being filled and folded, the dumplings are coated in a light batter and fried to a golden perfection.These dumplings are typically accompanied by Ajat, a refreshing pickled condiment consisting of cucumber, shallots, and red chilies. The tradition of making these dumplings was not only a culinary practice but also a symbol of wealth and power within the royal courts, and they were often brought to the Grand Palace as a tribute.

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Prep Time 1 hour

Cook Time 1 hour

Course Snack

Cuisine Chinese

For the dough:

  • 500 g taro (เผือกหอม)
  • 100 g rice flour (แป้งข้าวจ้าว)
  • 100 g all-purpose flour (แป้งอเนกประสงค์)
  • coconut middle cream (กลางกะทิ) as needed
  • sea salt (เกลือทะเล)
  • cassava flour (แป้งมัน) to roll the dough, as needed

For the filling:

  • pork lard (น้ำมันหมู)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander roots (รากผักชี) scraped, washed and chopped
  • 3/4 tablespoon Thai garlic (กระเทียมไทย)
  • 1 teaspoon white peppercorns (พริกไทย) (S1)
  • 200 g tiger prawn (กุ้งกุลาดำ)
  • 200 g grated peeled coconut flesh (มะพร้าวขาวขูด)
  • shrimp tomalley (มันกุ้ง)
  • 2 tablespoons kaffir lime leaves (ใบมะกรูด) sliced into thin juliennes
  • 1 part sea salt (เกลือทะเล)
  • 1 part granulated sugar (น้ำตาลทราย)

For the batter:

  • 1 part rice flour (แป้งข้าวจ้าว)
  • 1 part all-purpose flour (แป้งอเนกประสงค์)
  • 1 chicken egg yolk (ไข่แดงของไข่ไก่)
  • Thai red pickling (limestone) solution (น้ำปูนแดง)
  • coconut cream (หัวกะทิ)
  • sea salt (เกลือทะเล)
  • granulated sugar (น้ำตาลทราย)

For the ajat:

  • 1 part granulated sugar (น้ำตาลทราย)
  • 1 part 5% white vinegar (น้ําส้มสายชู)
  • 1 part water (น้ำเปล่า)
  • pinch sea salt (เกลือทะเล)
  • cucumber (แตงกวา)
  • young ginger (ขิงอ่อน)
  • fresh red long chili (phrik chee fa) (พริกชี้ฟ้าแดง)
  • shallots (หอมแดง)
  • Thai garlic (กระเทียมไทย)


  • Mix equal parts rice flour (แป้งข้าวจ้าว) and all-purpose flour (แป้งอเนกประสงค์).

  • Add chicken egg yolk (ไข่แดง) and Thai red pickling solution (น้ําปูนแดง).

  • Thin with coconut cream (หัวกะทิ) to reach a batter-like consistency.

  • Season with sea salt (เกลือทะเล) and granulated sugar (น้ําตาลทราย).

Ajat dipping sauce:

  • In a saucepan, combine granulated sugar (น้ําตาลทราย), 5% white vinegar (น้ําส้มสายชู), and water.

  • Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.

  • Add sliced cucumber (แตงกวา), young ginger (ขิงอ่อน), red long chilies (พริกชี้ฟ้าแดง), shallots (หอมแดง) and pickled garlic (กระเทียม).

  • Allow to the mixture to cool and be infused with the flavors.

Keyword Snacks (อาหารว่าง)

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