Nun Bananas in Coconut Milk

Gluay Buat Chee

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    4 to 6

Appears in

Quick & Easy Thai

Quick & Easy Thai

By Nancie McDermott

Published 2004

  • About

In Thailand, Buddhist monks wear robes the color of pumpkin, but Buddhist nuns wear robes as white as freshly grated coconut. This homey snack of banana chunks “enrobed” in a sauce of warm sweet coconut milk goes by the whimsical name of gluay buat chee, or “bananas ordained as nuns.”

Thai soil nourishes numerous varieties of bananas, some considered ideal for fritters, others for stewing with sticky rice for banana leaf–wrapped puddings, and still others for preserving in sugar syrup. This dish is traditionally made with gluay nahm wah, a short, sturdy banana variety. The bananas in your supermarket, known in Thailand as the “fragrant banana” or gluay hohm, will be wonderful here, as will many of the exotic bananas available from specialty produce purveyors.

I freeze any leftovers, and whirl them in the blender with ice cubes and fresh or frozen fruit for a breakfast shake. You can also make this with peeled kabocha pumpkin or another sturdy winter squash, using about 3½ cups of bite-sized pieces, replacing half the sugar with palm sugar or brown sugar, and simmering 5 to 10 minutes, until the pumpkin is tender.


  • 3 to 4 medium bananas (about pounds), preferably a bit underripe
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt


Peel the bananas and halve lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into about 4 equal pieces, giving you about cups of banana chunks.

Bring the coconut milk, water, sugar, and salt to a gentle boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir well to dissolve the sugar, and then add the bananas. Simmer gently for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and ladle into small bowls. Serve hot or warm.