banana rice dumpling (នំអន្សមចេក—nam ansam chek)

Rice dumplings wrapped in banana leaf are popular in Cambodia as snacks and festival food. This recipe uses black glutinous rice for a nutritious(though less sticky) version of a popular classic: banana rice dumpling, or nam ansam chek(នំអន្សមចេក).

Nam(នំ) means wrapped dumpling, and ansam chek(អន្សមចេក) refers to the filling or flavor, in this case banana, or chek(ចេក). Ripe banana brings a wonderful sweetness rounded by a pinch of salt. The dumpling is usually either grilled or steamed.

Often served on the street, this dish is fairly simple to make at home. Banana, rice, and shredded coconut are wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked, then sweet coconut sauce is poured over.

A savory version of this uses mung beans and pepper. Similar dishes include Chinese zongzi(粽子) and peanut sakhoo (ສະຄູຍັດຖົ່ວດິນ).


(serves 4)

2 cup glutinous rice, soaked a few hours or overnight
1 pandan leaf (optional)
½ cup shredded coconut
1 cup coconut milk
1 dash salt
1 tablet palm sugar
4 Thai banana or other banana, halved lengthwise

• steam rice, pandan leaf 1 hour
• boil coconut milk, salt, palm sugar, pandan leaf for sauce, stirring frequently
• cool
• discard pandan leaf
• firmly wrap rice, banana, shredded coconut in banana leaf (option: tie and store)
• grill or steam
• open banana leaf
• pour sauce over
• serve