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Nom Plae Ai
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Resting Time
3 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
Nom plae ai are small dumplings made with glutinous rice flour and a juicy palm sugar filling in the center. These cooked dumplings are then generously coated in freshly grated coconut scrapings.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Asian, Cambodian, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 25 balls
Author: Nisha Ramesh
For the dough
For the stuffing and the top
  • 4 oz. palm sugar , cut in small pieces
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 4 cups grated coconut (dry or fresh)
  • 5 tablespoons coconut oil
  1. Place the palm sugar in a saucepan. Add the water.
  2. Bring to a boil and cook on medium/low heat until the sugar has melted completely.
  3. Discard the excess water if it has not been fully evaporated and mix until smooth and thick enough. Let stand for 3 minutes.
  4. Form palm sugar balls of about ½ inch (1cm) in diameter.

  5. Work very quickly as, while cooling, palm sugar becomes more difficult to shape.
  6. Place the palm sugar balls on parchment paper and set aside.
  7. Pour the sticky rice flour in a large bowl.
  8. Add the hot water gradually until a smooth and homogeneous dough is formed. Knead the dough for 3 minutes.

  9. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set aside.
  10. Take a small piece of dough and work it into a smooth ball.
  11. Then, use the thumbs to flatten the ball and form a small circle, then drop a palm sugar ball in the center.
  12. With your fingers, close the circle of dough and then smooth the edges giving it the shape of a ball.
  13. Without pressing, gently smooth with a circular motion using both palms and form a ball.
  14. Renew the operation until the dough is used up.
  15. Place each ball on the parchment paper.
  16. In a large pot, boil a large amount of water.
  17. Immerse the balls in simmering water over high heat, (taking care not to overload) and cook until they float to the surface.
  18. Place in a bowl of cold water for a minute, then take out with a slotted spoon to drain.
  19. Wear thick, smooth kitchen gloves and roll generously hot glutinous rice balls into the coconut oil and then into the grated coconut.
Recipe Notes
  • Once you have prepared the dough, you must use it immediately. With time, the dough will become dry and it will be hard to work.
  • Also, it is necessary to have extra rice flour in case the dough is too wet.
  • It is also possible to use small pieces of palm sugar instead of cooked and dissolved palm sugar.