Khao Lam is a well-loved dessert in Thailand’s Chonburi province that comes in a fully biodegradable packaging – this sweet glutinous rice dessert is encased in bamboo joints. At a quiet street tucked away behind Nong Mon market is the family-run Mae Ni Yom, the only maker of the dessert that uses the traditional method of roasting instead of a gas-fired system. Ari Soison, in her 50s, learnt the art of making Khao Lam from her mother and until today, adheres to the same recipe and methods.
The Cooking process is a grueling five-hour routine, which takes place at 3 a.m. every morning. Glutinous rice is mixed with black beans, coconut milk and sugar and the stuffed into specially prepared cylinders of bamboo. The tubes are then slow-roasted to sweet perfection in an open fire of coconut husks.
For three hours Ari and her husband continually feed the fire with wood, waste bamboo and more coconut husks, until the rich fragrance of coconut milk starts to waft through the billowing smoke. This is an indicator that the dessert is ready for consumption. To savour the sticky sweet goodness inside, one has to hack the bamboo open with a hammer or knife.