Bananas are one of the most widely consumed fruits in Cambodia, as they are in the rest of the world. In Cambodia, we use every single part of the banana. The root, tree, and flower are commonly used as a vegetable, both cooked and raw, and for both humans and animals. Banana is delicious to eat raw by itself and also cooked in savory dishes, snacks, and desserts. Some of our favorite ways of cooking bananas are grilling, boiling, frying, as chips, and as chek khtih.
Chek khtih is a creamy and sweet dessert that includes tapioca to thicken the broth. The banana brings a softness and a little sourness, making the whole dish both light and tasty. A sprinkle of roasted black and white sesame seeds helps to lift the dish and fill it with fragrance.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Serves 6 to 8
- 12 ripe bananas
- 1/3 cup black and white sesame seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 2 tablespoons uncooked tapioca balls
- 1 cup palm sugar
- 3 cups pure coconut cream, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Peel the ripe bananas, slice into 1/2-inch to 1-inch pieces, and leave them to soak for 15 minutes in 5 cups of water with 1 teaspoon of salt in order to take away the bitterness. After 15 minutes, drain well.
Soak the black and white sesame seeds in fresh water, and remove all the seeds that float. Seeds that float are a sign that they have gone bad. Wash the remaining seeds well, then drain.
Put a frying pan on low heat and dry roast the seeds until the white seeds brown a little and their fragrance is released. Remove the seeds, place them in a food processor, and grind for a minute. Place the crushed sesame seeds in an airtight food container to preserve the aromatic fragrance.
Rinse the tapioca balls with fresh, room temperature water a few times, then allow them to soak for 15–20 minutes.
Caramelize the palm sugar and add a little water.
Put 2 cups of water and 2 cups of the coconut cream in a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil. Add tapioca balls and turn the heat down to low. Once all the tapioca balls float and turn very clear they are cooked. Add the banana and cook for about 5 minutes.
Next, add the caramelized palm sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir well. Turn the heat off, pour the rest of coconut cream in, and stir well.
To serve, place the dessert in a serving bowl and sprinkle roasted sesame seeds on top.
Reprinted with permission from “Nhum: Recipes From a Cambodian Kitchen” by Rotanak Ros and Nataly Lee.