Before I began my journey travelling South East Asia, not once did I think to myself ‘hmm, I can’t wait to eat all of the delicious accidentally vegan desserts when I get there!’-I wasn’t even aware that this would be possible. BUT there are so many delectable desserts we can try whilst exploring this amazing continent; so many that I’ve probably put on a stone just eating them all. Here’s the lowdown of some of my favourites and where to find them…
Where to find it: Malaysia & Indonesia
Best Place to eat it: Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
Cendol is the strangest thing I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. This coconut milk based dish is topped with luminous green rice-flour jelly noodles, shaved ice, palm sugar and perhaps the weirdest of all…red kidney beans. Sounds delicious doesn’t it? Well it may not sound good, but it tastes amazing-seriously you all HAVE to try it. Apparently the way I was eating Cendol was all wrong according to locals- you need to mix everything together and ensure you have a little of everything on your spoon for every bite.
7. Fruit Salad
Where to find it: Everywhere!
Best place to eat it: Muong Ngoi Laos
Is this dish a dessert, a snack or breakfast? Who knows, I eat it almost every day, and sometimes all day long. Fruit salads are fantastic because they’re available in literally every SE Asian country, in almost every restaurant, cafe or street stall. The salads typically consist of; Banana, Mango, Watermelon, Pineapple and Dragonfruit but sometimes Melon, Orange, Passionfruit and Apple are added too. The best fruit salad is in Muong Ngoi in Northern Laos as part of the breakfast buffets they have there- yummy fruits are topped with muesli for the PERFECT breakfast.
6. Appam Set
Where to find it: Singapore & Malaysia
Best place to eat it: Little India, Singapore
Unfortunately I don’t have a photograph of an Appam set ( I know, how unprofessional of me!) But this dessert was so delicious, it simply must be part of my list. Appam set is a traditionally Sri Lankan dessert so to find it you must go to Little India in Malaysia or Singapore. We stumbled across this gem when Joe ordered an ‘Apple juice’ but through his accent and the language barrier we were given an Appam set instead and THANK GOD because it was 10000000 times better than apple juice. Appam is a large pancake-like dessert made from fermented rice batter and coconut milk, you dip each bite into a little palm sugar and coconut milk and Hey Presto! you have the Ultimate dish to finish your curry experience. You cannot miss the Appam set- it’s seriously delicious!
5. Apam Balik
Where to find it: Malaysia
Best place to eat it Night market, Langkawi, Malaysia
This is yet another dessert I just stumbled across. Whilst searching for yummy spring rolls, samosas and fried rice to eat at Langkawi night market, we passed a stall with a man creating these things and they smelt FANTASTIC. They’re made from coconut batter, peanuts and coconut milk and have chopped peanuts running through the centre. I didn’t see these delicious little things again, so look out for them if you’re ever in Langkawi!
Where to find it: Thailand & Cambodia
Best place to eat it: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Krolan is the absolute bane of my life! I simply love them so much and can never, ever seem to find them! I was introduced to Krolan (sweet, sticky rice, cooked in a bamboo) by the manager of our hotel in Chiang Mai- she bought them from the local market for us to try and ever since, I’ve been HOOKED! I found them once more in the street market in Pai and again being sold by a woman outside a petrol station on the way to Battambang, Cambodia. Krolan are absolutely amazing so if you see them, buy 20 of them, stock up whilt you can-trust me, you won’t be sorry.
(No photo again for this one, my apologies. I refused to take an image of one as I was always sure I’d find another one. Apparently not).
3. Kanom Krok
Where to find it: Thailand, Laos & Cambodia
Best place to eat it: Chiang Mai, Luang Prabang or Siam Reap Night markets.
Kanom Krok is so delicious I must have eaten around 100 of them on this trip. Coconut milk is cooked in a small dome pan and a topping (usually sweetcorn, but could be spring onion, banana or coconut) is put into the centre. If you’re in Thailand; Kanom Krok is cooked thoroughly, they’re smaller, crispier and always use a sweetcorn topping. If you’re in Laos or Cambodia, this dessert is a little creamier, are often a lot bigger than the Thai version and they get a little creative with toppings. Kanom Krok is the easiest thing in the world to find- almost every market will sell them. So go forth and try Kanom Krok in every country you visit- they’re so good!
2. Ondeh Ondeh
Where to find it: Malaysia
Best place to eat it: Petaling Street market, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Ondeh Ondeh (sometimes called different things) are green, glutinous, rice flour dumplings which are cooked over steam and rolled in desiccated coconut. Inside they are stuffed with palm sugar which turns into a runny, sugary, treacle like substance when you bite into it. I may not have given these things the best introduction but trust me, they are the best food that you’ll have in Malaysia-guaranteed. Joe and I stumbled upon Ondeh Ondeh when the Cendol stall next door ran out of Cendol (I really don’t know how that happened). Since then we ate as many as we could find and fought over who would eat the last one, and who took the bigger pieces. (Sounds childish, but you’ll understand after you’ve tried them).
1. Mango & sticky rice
Where to find it: Thailand & Laos
Best place to eat it: Street stalls in Bangkok, Thailand
How can my list be complete with my absolute favourite-Mango & sticky rice?! This was the first dessert I tried whilst in SE Asia, and you know what they say…You never forget your first love! Mangoes in England are, to be frank, a little gross. They’re never ripe and they don’t have a good flavour. Mangoes in Thailand are heaven. Pair this with some sticky rice with coconut milk poured on top and you have yourself a winner! I’ve tried other variations with bananas etc but they cannot compete with the champion that is Mango!
What are your favourite SE Asian desserts? And what do you think of my favourites? Let me know in the comments.
Love from wherever I am,