You know that feeling when you think you are one of the luckiest girls in the world? Well that’s exactly how I felt during our stay at the Four Seasons Tented Camp.
I wasn’t sure what to think of the specially themed dinners that were planned out in our personalized itinerary. I really had no idea what to expect…but the manager Vikas and Chef Pisan assured us that our dinners would be spectacular, which I found out later to be exactly that. Amazingly spectacular!
After drinks and personalized vegetarian appetizers at the Burma Bar…we were escorted by a ranger through the exotic bamboo jungle by torch into the elephant camp where we were immediately greeted by our elephants Yuki and Pet… feeding them a dinner of sugarcane before the ranger lead us to our dinner. Spending time with our elephants at night was very intimate and just the beginning of many extraordinary touches to come…
We were seated up on a platform overlooking the stars and sky and the table was lit only by candle light (Thank goodness for flash photography). Down below local artists using traditional northern Thailand instruments serenaded us. There was an outdoor kitchen where the chef’s crew was busy preparing our multi-course meal. 4 courses in all. Everything was incredible… soup, rice noodles, fish cooked over the fire in a banana leaf stuffed into bamboo served with plenty of delicious vegetables from their own organic garden and steamed brown rice…
For dessert, I was really blown away. So blown away, in fact, immediately after taking one bite I knew I had to make this back home and share the recipe with all of you!
A traditional Thai dessert was served – Sweet Banana in Coconut Milk. The dessert was so simple, so comforting and so good. We enjoyed it by the fire the Four Seasons staff had ready for us to enjoy after dinner. We sipped wine, had ginger tea and enjoyed the view of the stars we normally don’t get to see living in the city lights back home.
To make this dessert exactly like the chef prepared it requires the exotic pandanus leaf, which is abundant in Thailand and found all over the camp (in hindsight I should have stuffed some of these leaves in my pocket to take home!) I haven’t been able to find fresh pandandus leaf in the U.S. yet, so I used ground cardamon seeds instead, which is one of my favorite indian spices for adding fragrance and sweet aroma. I imagine this is what the Thai leaf did too. Cardamon worked so well that it tasted like I wasn’t missing any key ingredients at all.
Here’s my take on the recipe, along with instructions on how to make your own coconut milk too! Making your own coconut milk is super easy. Can I get an applause for avoiding that dreaded carrageenan?
- 16 ounces of coconut milk
- 2 large bananas sliced ¾ inch thick
- ½ tsp ground cardamon seeds or 1 pandanus leaf
- ⅓ cup coconut palm sugar or less if you have ripe bananas
- ⅛ tsp sea salt
- 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds toasted
- In a large pot, combine coconut milk, sugar and cardamon/pandanus leaf and bring to a boil until sugar dissolves (Note – the cardamon or pandanus leaf will not dissolve)
- Stir well, reduce heat and add banana, cooking for 7 more minutes or until you see the banana turn golden yellow
- If using pandanus leaf, remove it and serve pieces of banana covered with ½ cup of coconut milk in a small dish
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds
- The water & meat of one large mature coconut (alternatively, you can 1 and ½ cup dried unsweetened coconut)
- 2 and ½ cups warm filtered water
- In a high speed blender, combine coconut water, meat and filtered water and blend until smooth
- Using a strainer or nut milk bag, separate the pulp from the milk (Note – Don’t throw away the pulp, I’ll be sharing a recipe on how to use it soon)
After dessert, the surprises kept coming… out came several “Kongming” paper lanterns for us to launch into the sky, creating our own stars to wish upon. The sight was truly magical and we watched our lanterns for a very long time… symbolizing good luck and our worries to disappear.
And to add even more romance to the night…This is what we arrived back to in our tent. “Wow!” was all I could say!
Thank you Four Seasons Tented Camp and Chef Pisan for this delicious recipe and a spectacular night we will never forget.