Trav Ko – Taro Stirring Cake
Taro is a kind of root vegetable growing for its tubers which is edible. Native to Southeast Asia, taro has been growing widely in the area with many varieties.
In Cambodia, taro is very popular to consume as vegetable for soup, either fork soup or fish soup. Beside, it’s also has been cooked as sweet with sticky rice, or be filling for many kinds of cake.
In this post, I would like to introduce a kind of sweet made of taro which is a kind of traditional Khmer sweet. It has a Khmer name as “trav ko” (ត្រាវកូរ). It’s a favorite for sweet lovers. Trav is taro in Khmer, ko means stirring. So it can be called as “Taro Stirring Cake”.
Trav Ko is served in special occasion, especially in wedding reception. However, it is rarely cooked at home, perhaps people think it’s hard to prepare. In fact, it’s not too hard, just need some times. Trav Ko is normally served with many kinds of sweet made of mung been and egg-york. If we go for it at any sweet store, they will add sugar juice and top up with ice.
The ingredients for Trav Ko is very simple:
Shredded coconut meat: 500g (for getting coconut milk)
How to remove the taro’s cover?
Keep the taro in dry condition, use the knight to remove its cover, then remove the dirty parts in dry too. We must avoid washing taro, because once it wet, it can cause itchy to your hands. Then you might ask, if taro can cause itchy why we can eat it? Well, after cooked this effect is no more. In case you get itchy during remove its cover, put your hand over the heat of fire and the itchy will be gone.
After the cover is removed, slide the taro into small thin slices and put in the cooking pot.
How much coconut milk do we need?
First add about 250ml of water into the shredded coconut meat to produce the thick coconut milk and keep it in a bow separately. Then add some more water to produce thinner coconut milk. You may repeat this process to get enough coconut milk to flood the taro in the cooking pot.
How to cook Trav Ko?
Put the pot of taro with coconut milk onto medium fire (use a deep cooking pot will be easier to stir), and add a little salt. When the taro is cooked, start stirring it with low heat. At first stir it slowly and gradually become harder. We will need hand power to stir when the taro is nearly become paste. During this process we will gradually add the thick coconut milk into the taro paste to add more taste of coconut milk as well as avoiding over cooked, because we will need to keep stirring until the paste become well sticky together.
At this state, add sugar, then start stirring again until the paste is well sticky.
Put it off from fire and prepare the paste into a mold, make it firm and flatten well the surface.
Keep it cool, then send it into the fridge. Cut it into pieces when serving. It become more delicious after the second day in the fridge.
Num Sandek Kor-Khmer Mung Bean Cake
Mung bean is very popular in using as main ingredient as well as filling of various kinds of sweets and cake. Num Sandek Kor is having mung bean as main ingredient, and the name is translated as ‘stirring mung bean cake’. Mung bean is very delicious for bean and sweet lovers, because it’s completely made of mung bean and sugar.
Num Cheal – Pchum Ben Day’s Cake
Num Cheal (នំជាល) is one of Khmer traditional cakes that has exist until today. Num Cheal has its origin in Kampong Chhang province and has become popular all over country of Cambodia. Cheal is the round container made of bamboo slices, could be 8-10 cm in diameter and about 15 cm high. Num Cheal is contained in it and steam, that’s why the cake is so called.
Num Cheal is usually made during Pchum Ben Day just like Num Ansom (sticky rice cake). They have got another name as ‘Pchum Ben Cake’. Mostly when people visit their families in the provinces on Pchum Ben Day, they will come back to the city with Num Ansom and Num Cheal.
Read further in case you would like to find out how Num Cheal has been made.
- Sticky rice
- Palm sugar
- Soak sticky rice for one hour, then mill, drain, and press it hard
- Mix the sticky rice dough with palm sugar, shredded coconut meat, sesames, and add a little salt. However, if we want to keep it for serving in a longer time, coconut meat is excluded.
- Place plastic bag inside the containers and then pour the mixed dough into the containers. Arrange the containers in the steamer or steaming pot. In the past, when there is no plastic bag, banana leave is used.
- Num Cheal need about one hour steaming in order to be cooked, after that leave it cool and dry it in the sunlight.
How to serve Num Cheal?
Though after steamed the cake is cooked, but Num Cheal is served after fried. So after dried Num Cheal can be kept for months (if made without coconut meat). Whenever want to eat, slice the cake into thin pieces and fry with little cooking oil on low heat.
Num Cheal is nice to eat when it’s still hot. After fried the cake is not completely become crispy like other fried foods, but the mixture of crispy and soft. If it’s kept cool, the cake becomes hard.
Even thought modern people might not like Num Cheal very much, however, Num Cheal is still a popular cake for annual events, Pchum Ben Day. Everyone will have only one chance to eat Num Cheal in a year. And the city people are happy to have it come back home.
Num Sambok Chab – Bird Nest Cake
Num Sambok Chab is a Khmer cake originated from Kampot province. It’s translated as Bird Nest Cake and the cake is so called because of its form and shape looks like the bird nest that formed by many threads of dry grass. Nowadays Num Sambok Chab is popular throughout the country. We can find and buy it at the weekend getaway sites around Phnom Penh such as Kean Svay (Kandal), Tonle Bati (Ta Keo), Phnom Oudong (Kandal), Phnom Praset (Kandal), Ampe Phnom (Kampong Speu). When we visit these places on public holidays or weekend, it’s the chance for us to taste many kinds of traditional cake and dessert and Num Sambok Chab is among them.
The ingredients for Num Sambok Chab included paddy rice or paddy rice flour and palm sugar. To make this cake we need a mold or draw-plate which has many small holes. The mold or draw-plate was made of coconut shell in the past time, but now it’s made of aluminum.
Below is how Num Sambok Chab is made:
Mostly people use their paddy rice and mill it into flour than buy the refined flour from the market. The paddy rice after wash and rinse, it must be soak for about 30 minutes, then drain and mill it. Now drain the milled flour to be dry by storing it in a bag made of cloth and use heavy thing to place on it so that the water in the flour come out. After a while, the flour become finely dry and hard, so break it off and mix it with palm sugar until it becomes liquid. And that’s completed for the flour.
Now prepare a pan of vegetable oil on fire, sprinkle the flour on the mold or draw-plate and slightly shake it on the pan so that the flour comes out through holes of the mold. Just about 2 minutes the cake is ready in the pan of hot oil, now take it out and shape it in any desired form when it’s still hot, because just after this, Num Sambok Chab become crispy. Leave it to drain off cooking oil then serve.
Num plae ai (ផ្លែអាយ) or glutinous rice balls with sugar candy filling is a kind of Khmer traditional sweet. The cake is made into small slippery rice balls with palm sugar filled. It is a kind of special sweet for sugar lovers.
The origin of its name is uncertain. Num means cake, plae means fruit, and ai is just a word of name. So it’s to be translated as ai fruit cake which we don’t know what is ai fruit. According to a Khmer legend, num plae ai has a another name as ‘kill husband cake’. A wife preprared num plae ai for her husband to serve in order to kill him because he has betrayed her by having a love affair with anther woman. The filling of num plae ai is very sweet and the sticky rice flour cover is slippery, so it’s easily get stuck in the husband’s throat and cause him to choke. However, the reality proved that there is no such danger serving num plae ai
Num plae ai is very easy to prepare, here is how.
- 250 g sticky rice flour
- 100 g palm sugar candy: cut it into small cube pieces (about the size of your finger tip)
- young grated coconut
Mix sticky rice with about 100 ml of water, then the flour turns into a form of soft that we can make it into any shape. Now make it into balls of about 1.5 cm in diameter, then insert the sugar cube into the ball as filling.
Have a pot of boiling water ready on fire with moderate heat. After the ball is inserted with sugar cube, put it into the pot, when the balls float up, they are cooked. Take it out to another bow of cold water. One minute later, drain it out to a basket with holes. The process is continuosly like this.
Num plae ai is usually packed up in a package made of banana leaf which look very nice. Each package contains 5-7 balls and is top with young grated coconut.
Break the ball with your one bite, you will immediately feel the special sweetness of num plae ai.
Banana or Chek in Khmer is among the popular fruit in Cambodia. It’s eaten as fresh fruit and also prepared into various kinds of desserts and snacks. Below is a list of Khmer snacks and Khmer desserts made of banana. The kind of banana used for all kinds of snack is Chek Namva.
1. Chek Khtis – Banana coconut milk dessert
Chek Khtis is a very popular homemade dessert for Cambodians. As a kind of Khmer traditional dessert, it’s cooked very often at home as well as serving as dessert after lunch in restaurants of Cambodia. Chek Khtis is also served with sticky rice and ambok (Khmer flatten rice) and they are made perfect desserts. Interesting in making Chek Khtis? It’s easy.
Num Ansom Chek Ang is another popular Khmer snack made of banana. We usually find Num Ansom Chek Ang sellers pushing their cart along the road in Phnom Penh. It’s also have sold at various tourist sites of Cambodia. Num Ansom Chek Ang is the full name of the cake which means grilled banana sticky rice cake. However, we like to call it in short name as ‘ansom ang’.
What are the ingredients to make Num Ansom Chek Ang?