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Kanom Khai Nok Khata

Kanom khai nok khata (ຂະນົມ ໄຂ່ນົກກະທາ) are small fried sweet potato balls. They are crispy on the outside, but soft and creamy because of the sweet potato and coconut milk that have been incorporated into the dough. Khai nok khata in Lao and Thai translate to quail eggs denoting the size of these fried balls.

My sister loves to share her childhood memory of us enjoying these fried goodies from the street vendors at the refugee camp in Thailand. I’m pretty sure my sisters used to make me ask mom for a baht so we can buy treats. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they included these delicious fried sweet potato balls.

The recipe uses few ingredients and is very easy. These sweet potato balls can be addicting. Come on. They are fried street food after all. But they contain sweet potatoes, that must count for something, right?! 😊

Here are a few notes:
Sweet potato – sweet potato is the original, but you can use anything from pumpkin puree, cassava or taro. One pound of sweet potato yielded about 1 ½ cup or so of puree. I used the Murasaki sweet potatoes, which added a little nuttiness to it. And the Murasaki sweet potatoes were a little bit starchier and I ended up adding more coconut milk and that batch was much creamier and I almost like that version better. I’m ear marking this one to try with apple sauce or apple butter with some cinnamon in batter. That would be interesting.
Balance – Wet and dry ingredients. As mentioned above, I had to add more coconut milk when I used the Murasaki sweet potatoes than the regular sweet potatoes. If you find your dough is a little dry, add more coconut milk. Or if it’s a little wet add more all-purpose flour. But it is important to make sure that you knead it well to make sure that the added ingredient is completely incorporate before adding anymore. Otherwise, you risk adding too much a throwing the portion off completely. You might have to add more puree to keep the balance, but don’t let it get to that point.
Size does matter – ok so that’s necessarily true. You can make them whatever size you want, but the important thing here is to keep the sizes consistent so they will cook evenly. I like rolling out the dough into a log and cutting equal pieces before rolling them out. Remember, if you have bigger sized dough ball, it will take a little longer to cook. You can tell the balls have been under cooked and dough hasn’t rested long enough if the balls end up concaved in like they’ve deflated. You might want to do a small test batch for the right cooking time.

Kanom Khai Nok Khata (ຂະນົມ ໄຂ່ນົກກະທາ)

Yields: 3-4 dozen
Time: 1.5 hour (including resting time)

1 lb sweet potato (ມັນຕົ້ນ ປະມານ 1/2 ກິໂລ)
1 ½ cup tapioca starch (or flour) (ແປ້ງສິງກະໂປ 1 ½ ຈອກ)
½ cup all-purpose (AP) flour (ແປ້ງຫມີ່ ½ ຈອກ)
2/3 cup sugar (ນໍ້າຕານ 2/3 ຈອກ)
1 teaspoon baking powder (ຜົງປູ 1 ບ່ວງນ້ອຍ)
½ teaspoon salt (ເກືອ ½ ບ່ວງນ້ອຍ)
1/3 cup coconut milk (ກະທິ 1/3 ຈອກ)
Oil for frying (ນ້ຳມັນສຳລັບຈືນ)

  • Peel, wash and cut sweet potatoes into small pieces. Steam for 15-20 minutes or until cook. Then mash into puree or blend in food processor until you get a smooth puree.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix tapioca flour, AP flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the sweet potato puree, followed by coconut milk. Knead until dough forms. It should be smooth and not tacky to the touch. If dough is too wet, add more AP flour. If dough is too dry, add more coconut milk 1 tablespoon at a time, making sure to knead very well to ensure ingredients are completely incorporated before adding more.
  • Cover dough with a tea towel and allow it to rest for 20-30 minutes.
  • Take a piece of dough and roll out into a log. Then cut into small pieces. Roll each piece into ½-inch balls.
  • Heat oil on medium heat to 350F. Place about a dozen or so dough balls into fryer and fry for 4-6 minutes or until golden brown. Make sure to stir often and submerge balls under the oil to ensure even cooking and puffing.
  • Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel.
  • Serve and enjoy!

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