I’m usually not a huge fan of Thai desserts, but have really been enjoying the sweet stuff up here in Mae Hong Son, northern Thailand. The majority of people in this province are Shan, also known as Thai Yai (or Tai), and have a different set of sweet stuff than the Thais. Essentially, they’ve made due with the limited set of ingredients they have at hand: rice (regular or sticky, or sometimes wheat flour), sesame and sugar, often from sugarcane (rather than from palm sugar, as is typically the case with southern Southeast Asia).
My favourite so far is suay thamin:
I can’t remember what suay means, but thamin is Burmese for rice, in this case sticky rice, which has been steamed with raw sugarcane sugar and/or juice and topped with a salty coconut custard. A similar and equally common sweet is alawaa:
made from rice flour, coconut milk and sugar. Both of these were bought in the tiny town of Pang Maphaa, also known as Soppong, and were among the only interesting things to eat there.
At the morning market in Mae Hong Son I came across these, which resembled donuts:
Apparently they’re made from rice flour, sugarcane sugar and… sesame.
The last, and probably simplest of all, is khao pook:
This is purple sticky rice that has been mashed up with a bit of salt, then rolled in ground sesame. It’s then served with sugarcane syrup or simply a block of sugarcane (as shown above) and wrapped in bai tong tueng, a leaf from a teak-like tree that often replaces dishes in this part of the country. Amazing really, what you can do with just a few basic ingredients.