Pumpkin Coconut Custard
As this dessert is best prepared the day before and stored in the refrigerator, it has become a conveniently ideal dessert for special events such as wedding receptions and some religious festivals.
In most Khmer restaurants, this dessert is available all year round. It is very popular not only amongst the Khmers, the Thai and the Laotian like it too. They call it ‘sangkhaya’.
The similarity of the Khmer name ‘sankya’ to the Thai ‘sangkhaya’ indicates that both may have stemmed from ‘samkhya’ a sanskrit word for custard. This may suggest a common origin in the Khmer Empire’s Hindu past.
The high egg content in this recipe may have many health benefits. It is believed that the vitamins, minerals, amino acids and proteins in them are good for eyes, skin, hair and nails as well as having protective properties against breast cancer. Despite previous fears, recent studies claim that eggs do not increase your bad cholesterol.
Serves 4 - 6
1. Preparing the pumpkin – First wash, pat dry the pumpkin and trim off any rough spots. With a sharp knife, cut a hexagonal (6 sides) or round shape around the stem of the pumpkin. Lift the stem up and through the opening, use a spoon to scoop out and discard seeds and membrane from inside the pumpkin. Use a clean dry cloth to wipe out any bits left in the pumpkin cavity.
2 Traditionally, the recipe calls for palm sugar paste as it is easier to dissolve than the solid palm sugar. You can use brown granulated (not caster) sugar if palm sugar is not available.
Note: If you don’t have a steamer, this can be cooked in a bain-marie in the oven at 180oC/350oF/Gas 4 or fan 160oC/300oF for 90 minutes or more depending on the size of the pumpkin. First line a deep bowl, slightly bigger than the foil wrapped pumpkin, with a double folded long strip of greaseproof paper, leaving both ends above the edge of the bowl. This will make it easier to lift the pumpkin out of the bowl after it’s cooked. Place the pumpkin in the bowl, then put the bowl in a large roasting tin and add 1.5 inches of boiling water to the tin. Remember to check during cooking and top it up with boiling water if required.
I have been told that this can also be cooked in a microwave. It would take just 15–20 minutes only. However, I haven’t tried this method yet …