Kluai Buat Chi is a Thai banana dessert that is insanely easy to prepare. It is simply soft bananas cooked in coconut milk. The taste is coconutty, pleasantly sweet besides being highly nutritious. If you are looking for a dessert that is easy to cook and screams “authentic Thai”, this is a must-make!
Kluai means banana in Thai. While Buat Chi means ‘to ordain as a nun’. Sometimes, it is nicknamed “nun bananas”.
I am not exactly sure why bananas and nuns are put together to name this dish. Maybe these bananas look like ordained nuns after getting ‘dressed’ in coconut milk. Thai monks are dressed in yellow while nuns wear white robes.
Why this recipe?
To make bananas in coconut milk, you need only two main ingredients which is the fruit itself and coconut milk. This recipe recommends two different types of sugar. That is crucial if you want a dessert that is pleasantly sweet and aromatic at the same time. Using only white sugar will not yield the same result.
Another problem you may encounter is that the bananas may still be firm even after cooking for a long time. Or that the bananas may have darken lines after cooking making it look unappetizing. You will find tips below on how to avoid these mistakes.
Thai Nam Wah Bananas
Thai bananas are sweet when ripe. Their texture is much more dense compared to the common Cavendish bananas. That is why the Thais love to use them for grilling, frying or cooking.
Sometimes, you may find them sold under the name ‘Ducasse’ and ‘Kayinja’. If you are in a neighbouring country like Malaysia or Vietnam, you may be able to find this type of bananas sold under different names.
|Khmer||chek nam va or chek sâ|
|Vienamese||chuối sứ or chuối xiêm|
Substitute for Thai Bananas
Baby banana that is also known as Lady Fingers is a good substitute. Otherwise, Cavendish bananas can be used too but they are much softer. You may want to pick those that are slightly under ripe and add more as its flavour is not as noticeable compared to Thai bananas.
Important types of sugar
Plain white sugar is neutral in flavour and has a sharp sweetness which is too much for this desert. That is why using coconut sugar along with it helps to keep the sweetness balanced. Coconut sugar has a mellow and aromatic sweetness.
A good substitute of coconut sugar is palm sugar which may be substituted at a ratio of 1:1.
Why are the bananas still firm after cooking?
Always use ripe bananas when making Kluai Buat Chi. Do not rush to add the sugars into the pot because this will make it harder to cook the bananas.
Only add the sugars once the bananas are cooked according to the desired softness.
If you like a firmer texture, use half-ripen bananas. They can be very difficult to peel. Thus, place the bananas in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes to release its sap and makes peeling easier.
Remove the bananas strings
You will notice thin strings or membranes on the bananas which are called phloem bundles. They are not tasty. In fact, they have leathery texture and are a little bitter.
Unlike their taste, these phloem bundles are filled with potassium, fiber and vitamins. That is why many chose to eat them. However, for this recipe, it is recommended to remove them as they will turn dark once cooked.