Search This Blog

Monday, March 24, 2008

Khao Chae


Khao chae

Every year during the hottest month in Thailand I anticipate the coming of Songkran (Thai New Year) Festival, or Splash-water Festival in the eyes of foreign visitors, and eating of Khao chae or literally chilled rice.

As the fuel cost increases are skyrocketing, the best way to fight electricity bills is to eat khao chae to lower our body temperature. Khao chae consists of rice soaked in ice-cold jasmine-scented water served with elaborately prepared side dishes.

Khao chae chao-Mon was originated from the Mon ethnic people resident in Thailand two centuries ago, cooked to sacrifice to the God, the dish is rather simple compare to the Royal Thai version. Khao chae chao wang (the Royal Thai khao chae) which originated in the royal court of King Rama II as a dish to comfort the King (Rama II) and royal people during the hot season. The rice and water of Royal Thai khao chae is pretty complicated and requires a long process. Half cooked rice repeatedly rinsed to get rid of the starch before further being cooked, next put in cold water to avoid a premature process, drain the water; later steaming the half-dry rice in a cloth wrapper over a volcano-hot boiler until it is fully cooked in order for the scented water to look clear with the rice, earning a firm texture. The jasmine-scented water is not prepared with less effort. Jasmine blossoms are soaked in water in a clay pot with a jasmine-scented candle carefully floating on it for the water to absorb the fragrance with the pot covered for a while; repeat the process until satisfaction is met, then pour the scented water into an earthenware pot and store them overnight. When served, add the rice in the scented water followed by mini ice cubes, accompanied by tidbits.

The tidbits or side dishes, are, Luk Kapi (deep-fried fermented shrimp paste balls), Hom Daeng Yud Sai (deep-fried shallots stuffed with minced fish), Prik Yuak Sord Sai (banana chili pepper stuffed with minced pork wrapped in egg netting), Moo Foi (shredded sweet pork), Chai Pow Pad Wan (stir-fried sweet dry turnip with egg) and Carved Vegetables (green mango, cucumber, krachai, red chili and green onion).

To ensure our palate enjoys the most pleasure from the jasmine-scented khao chae and tidbits, we eat the rice and the tidbits separately, one at a time. Never put the tidbits in the rice and water as it will cloud the scented water.

Khao chae is another original deli from Thailand, it is unique and it is chic. I had my share of khao chae in the following fine establishments.

1) Lai Rot Khao Chae Chao Wang Thai Restaurant, (branch 1) 202 Rama 6 Road, Bangkok 10400, Tel.: 02-2792895; (branch 2) 120/4 Sukhumvit Soi 49, Bangkok 10110, Tel.: 02-3913193

Royal Thai style khao chae B170/set available throughout the year (recipe from the Princess Chalermkhetmongkol’s Palace)

2) Lord Jims @ Oriental Hotel, 48 Oriental Avenue, Bangkok 10500, Thailand; Tel.: 02-6599000

Royal Thai style khao chae includes in the lunch buffet throughout April

3) Smooth Curry @ Plaza Athenee Hotel, Wireless Road, Bangkok; Tel.: 02-6508800

Its khao chae, B320/set available in April, was the best I have ever sampled in the Kingdom. Unfortunately the restaurant’s renovation program falls in this year khao chae seasons. Go next year perhaps!

4) Koh Kret khao chae chao-Mon, near the Pier, outside Paramaiyikawas Temple, Koh Kret Island, Nonthaburi, Bangkok

Mon style khao chae B20/tidbits or B35/set available throughout the year (recipe from the original Mon ethnic people from the Cambodia settled in Thailand two centuries ago)

The writer can be reached at
Copyright © 2008 MDS. All rights reserved.



Ronald said...

This is the first time we ate ice porridge. Cannot believe the taste is so good. I guess it is because of the Jasmine flavor.

Jonathan (in the sea) said...

Khao Che - I think I will go to Bangkok in April every year just for this simple but intrigue food. Yes, it does have a charisma in it! Benjaron and Tea Room are so far the best I have ever tried. My local Thai friend Lai Rot is good but I haven't tried. Should try it next year...

Thailand Club said...

Lai-Rot has the best jasmine scented rice soup I have ever had but the sides are not impressive, for side dishes I think hotels' khao-chae are better. At least in hotel outlets they use fresh cooking oil to fried the deep-fried stuffed shallots and banana pepper stuffed with minced pork wrapped in crispy egg netting, I can tell. BTW, go to Lai-Rot better only eat khao-chae, its Thai food is better-forget type.

Stella said...

Yes Khao Chae is a must eat time in April. Cannot believe chilled rice soup can be soooo good.

Jonathan (in the sea) said...

Mmh. I think another point is on the texture of rice besides the aroma of the chilled jasmine water. As I recall, Benjaron did quite a good job on that. It seems to me not too many local Thai chefs knowing the way to cook good rice.

Thailand Club said...

Ronald. Khao-chae is a bowl of chilled rice soup, not ice porridge! That mean it is cooked rice in ice-cold water. Of course, the water is jasmine-scented water.

Anonymous said...

wow so complicated in making this chilled rice soup, worth my air fare to sample this unique Thai food

Jonathan (in the sea) said...

Yes, Khao Che is made in a very complicated process. Even the water is important because the Jasmine taste can differ if the water is different. I read a travel magazine that Grasse (a city near Cannes, in Southern France) has the best Jasmine. If I would know any Thai chef who can make Khao Che, I would definitely get some Jasmine from Grasse with a bottle of Evian (should be glass bottle).

Thailand Club said...

why not in-the-sea, bring them some Grasse jasmine and a bottle of Evian to see how the French ingredients khao-chae taste, btw, most important for the water is the candle but not the jasmine flower itself

Fillet-O said...

invite me to the Evian khao chae if you shall cook one

Cindy said...


Presentation is wonderful..I love the raindrops!

Though, way too much fried food, not good for you as you are not getting younger!

Yai said...

I am kind of missing the khao chae. So maybe I shall go to Lai-rot for some.