The Tiger and the Rice Pudding: A Competition

On February 1st, Cambodia, like other countries in Southeast Asia, celebrated Chinese New Year. Happy Year of the Tiger, everyone!

This meant that the children were on holiday for most of the week. School holidays, while a blessing for the kids, are always a dilemma for their caretakers – how do you keep so many kids busy for several days? Bjorn and Roxanne came up with an ingenious solution: they challenged them to a dessert-making competition.

After they were divided into teams, the kids studied traditional Khmer recipes, procured the necessary ingredients and invaded the kitchen. Working in shifts and with the help of Reaksmey, our chef, and Khun, our breakfast specialist, they produced two desserts by lunchtime and two more for dinner. (Thus, as Roxanne and Bjorn had hoped, they were kept busy for an entire day!)

While the team headed by Ilang created the most visually stunning dessert, first prize was ultimately awarded to Sarem’s team for their elegant and flavourful rendition of nom chak chan, a steamed, layered pudding made of rice flour and coconut milk, which they coloured with green tea leaves and purple dragon fruit juice. A hearty congratulations to Sarem and his fellow pâtissiers: Ilay, Mary, Olivia, Lisa, Sammy, Charlie and Bodhi.

And well done to all participants for making the competition a success. It was so successful, in fact, that Bjorn intends to make it a recurring feature. On the next school holiday, the stakes will be higher—a three-course meal will be expected!

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