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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Khi Hlek

Gaeng Khi Hlek Nuea Yaang
(Khi Hlek means "Rust" so "Rust tree" - actually literally tranlsated it means "iron shit" but the word shit is used to accentuate many other words, and does not only refer to excement - the real word for rust is "Sanim", in Thai).
I love Gaeng Khee Hlek i- it has a slightly bitter taste which is complemented by the creamy sweet coconut milk ad the juicy Roasted Beef (Nuea Yaang means barbecued beef). This is not to be found in Farang Restaurants or resorts, as the muddy brown look of it is perhaps disagreeable to many first time visitors to Thailand.. I myself remember years ago riding a bus to Surat thani my first day in Thailand and we stopped at a roadside canteen.. i remember seeing wehat then looked like a load of murky looking curries with seemingly dubious things in them. I now thrive on the less aestheastically pleasing to the eye dishes, as i find, after having tried them, that they are amongst the tastiest of all! Tha's why you often see the Thais on the street eating things you can't imagine what have in them, and would be afraid to try. Many of these recipes look uninviting but blow your tastebuds off if you dare to go for it!Gaeng Khi Hlek is one of these recipes.


Seasoning Mix;
500 gms Beef
4 cups of Khi Hlek leaves (Cassod tree, Siamese senna, Thai copperpod, Siamese cassia)
Coconut milk 1 kilogram, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 4 tablespoons of Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce)

Curry Mixture;
7 Large dried chilies and 20 Small "Khi Hnuu" chilies - 4 tablesoons of Lemon Grass
1 tablespoon of white Pepper and 4 tablespoons of Garlic cloves - 10 disc shaped slices of fresh cumin root, 2 tablespoons of red Thai schallot onions, 2 tablespoons of Galangal root in slices
a tablespoon or so of finely shredded Kaffir lime leaves, some "Gabpi" (กะปิ hai shrimp paste), and some salt.

Preparation method;
1.Pound the "Prik Gaeng" (seasoning) ingredients together preferably in a mortar and pestle (This is called a "Krok" in Thai; you can buy Krok Thai on this site through amazon), until a paste is formed).
2.Boil the Khi Hlek leaves until they lose their bitterness, then leave them to soak in the water.
3. Take the coconut and "Kan" it (คัน - a machine is used to grate the coconut flesh ending up with the milk, and cream as 2 separate products) - resulting in 4 cups of coconut cream/milk and some coconut flesh too. You can use maybe 4 small cartons of coconut milk or a mix milk and cream 60/40 .. available in most asian stores in your area or if not can use one of the links on this blog to order from
4. Take the beef which you have hopefully already grilled to a juicy texture and appearance, and slice it into bite sized slices. Take the thick cream off the coconut milk and simmer it in the pan until the fat breaks, and add the Prik gaeng (curry seasoning paste which you made in the 'Krok"), sauteeing it lightly until a fine aroma is produced.At this point you should add the roast/grilled/barbecued beef and stir fry for a minute or so..
Add the thin part of the coconut milk (called "Haang Gati" - หางกะทิิ), and bring to the boil, and add the Khi Hlek leaves. Then add the thin part of the coconut milk (called "Haang Gati" - หางกะทิิ), and bring to the boil gently simmering for a while.
Then add the thick creamy part of the coconut milk (called "Hua Gati" - หัวกะทิ); once the Gaeng is boilingfor a few minutes, add the sugar and Nam Pla (fish sauce - น้ำปลา) - test it to check if it
is salty-sweet enough (gaeng Khi Hlek should have a savoury, salty taste with a sweetness to it in the sauce)

Khi Hlek tree has been proven to have a negative effect on the liver in casers of Hepatitis sufferers, so please eat in moderation if you have a bad liver. Khi Hlek is reputed to help ypou to sleep if eat and follow down with some warm water before sleeping. Also good for if you have a stuffed somach and constipated.
Below are some links to sites that have info on Khi Hlek, and it's availability

Important Documents on the medicinal properties of Bai Khi Hlek

1. Thongsaard W, Dedachapunya C, Showpittapornchai U. Effects of subacute administration of barakol on liver and kidney function in rats. The 3rd World Congress on Medicinal Plant and Aromatic Plants for Human Welfare, Chiang Mai, Thailand, 3-7 Feb 2003.

2. Murakami A, Kondo A, Nakamura Y, Ohigashi H, Koshimizu K. Possible anti-tumor promoting properties of edible plants from Thailand, and identification of an active constituent, cardamonin, of Boesenbergia pandurata. Biosci Biotech Biochem 1993; 57(11):1971-3.

3. Permtermsin C, Chaichanthipyuth C, Lipipun V, et al. Evaluation of cytotoxic effect of barakol on P19 embryonal carcinoma cell. Thai J Pharm Sci 2002;Vol 26(suppl.):29.

Khee Lek can also be made with a variety ofm other ingredients such as fish or pork.


ใบอ่อนและดอกขี้เหล็กต้มสุก 2 ถ้วย
เนื้อวัวติดมันนิดหน่อย 2 ขีด
มะพร้าวขูด 1/2 กิโลกรัม
หัวกะทิ 1 ถ้วย
หางกะทิ 2 ถ้วย
น้ำปลาร้าต้มสุก 1/4 ถ้วย
น้ำตาลปีบ 1 ช้อนโต๊ะ
น้ำปลา 3 ช้อนโต๊ะ
น้ำพริกแกงคั่ว 3 ช้อนโต๊ะ

หมายเหตุ เนื้อวัวที่ใช้ให้เอามาย่างแบบน้ำตกแล้วหั่นชิ้นพอคำ


1. ผัดหัวกะทิครึ่งถ้วยให้แตกมัน แล้วใส่น้ำพริกแกงคั่ว ผัดให้หอมและแตกมันอีกครั้ง
2. ค่อยๆ ใส่หางกะทิ เอาน้ำปลาร้าใส่ พอเดือดใส่ใบและดอกขี้เหล็ก
3. เคี่ยวจนผักนุ่ม ปรุงรสด้วยน้ำตาลปีบ น้ำปลา ใส่เนื้อย่าง หัวกะทิที่เหลือคนให้เข้ากัน ตักใส่ถ้วย เสิร์ฟ

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