Thai Pumpkin Custard Dessert Recipe (Sankaya)

Sankaya or Thai pumpkin custard is a Thai-style inside out pumpkin pie in which a lightly sweetened coconut milk and egg custard is steamed inside of a hollowed out pumpkin. A perfect balance of textures, the steamed egg custard inside shows the influence of the Portuguese on Thai cuisine, who introduced the idea of adding eggs to desserts in the 1600's.

In Thailand, Sankaya is a popular street vendor sweet and each wedge costs about 20 baht (about sixty cents).

This recipe for steamed pumpkin recipe filled with creamy coconut custard comes from the excellent Thai cooking video website, See the cooking video below to quickly learn how to make Sankaya.

Sankaya Thai Pumpkin with Custard



  1. Cut out the pumpkin just like you would for Halloween. Cut out the top, remove all the seeds and the stringy insides.
  2. In a mixing bowl crack the eggs, add coconut milk, salt, cinnamon, vanilla and palm sugar.  Stir well until the palm sugar is blended into the mixture.
  3. Pour the mixture into the pumpkin.
  4. Bring water to a boil in a steamer. Then place the pumpkin and the pumpkin lid inside the steamer basket. Don’t cover the pumpkin with the lid. Set the pumpkin lid in the steaming basket off to the side so it cooks too.
  5. Now place the basket onto the steamer and cover the basket with the lid. Steam for about 45 minutes.
  6. When you think it's time, open the steamer and stick a fork into the custard to check if it is done.  If the fork comes out all wet and runny you need to steam it a little longer.
  7. Remove the basket from the steamer and let the pumpkin cool down.
  8. When you are ready to serve, take a knife and cut a wedge out of the pumpkin just as if it were a pie. The custard should be firm enough to stand on its own and not be runny.
  9. Allow to cool to room temperature and serve to your guests. They can eat the entire pumpkin - the skin and flesh of the pumpkin and the creamy custard inside. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Servings: 4


Notes: For best results, Chef Dim Geefay recommends preparing with firm Japanese Pumpkin (Kabocha squash) available online in our grocery.

To prepare this dessert, first a top is cut out of the pumpkin, as for a jack-o-lantern and the seeds removed. The custard is prepared in the usual manner with eggs, palm sugar and coconut cream and flavored with exotic pandanus leaf or cinnamon and vanilla. The whole filled pumpkin is then steamed for about 45 minutes, until the custard is firm. Serve by cutting into wedges and serve at room temperature.

Recipe and bottom Image Copyright © 1999 Ernie and Dim Geefay; top Image © 2010 Panpote Soontararak/

Sankaya Recipe Video 

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See more Thai recipe videos at Thai Chef Dim Geefay's site,, where you can watch a total of 30 cooking videos of the most popular Thai recipes.

Recipe and Video Copyright © 2006 Ernie Geefay Productions

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