how to make thai dessert red ruby

Thai dessert red ruby is a classic Thai dessert that includes crushed ice, condensed milk, and tapioca pearls.

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How to make thai dessert red ruby

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Red rubies dessert or tub tim krob is a refreshing Thai dessert made mainly with water chestnut and coconut cream. Crunchy, nutty, and creamy, it’s the perfect dessert for any day.

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thai red rubies dessert or tub tim krob in coconut syrup

Thai Red Rubies Dessert | Tub Tim Krob

If you’re reading this post, chances are you’ve already tried red rubies dessert or tub tim krob, fell in love with it, and are looking for a recipe to recreate it yourself. But even if you haven’t tried it, I’d still recommend that you read on…because you are missing out.



Trust me, you want this red rubies dessert in your life. Served with crushed ice, it’s a perfect treat for any hot summer day (which is just about any day in Thailand), just like nam kang sai, and rainbow polka dot jelly. If you have plans to visit Thailand for a holiday, make sure you add this Thai dessert to your must-eat list! Once you know how good it is, you’ll definitely want to make it at home.

Thai red rubies dessert or tub tim krob in three glasses serving bowls

About the Name of this Water Chestnut Dessert

In case you’re wondering, “tub tim krob,” (sometimes spelled tub tim grob, tab tim krob, tab tim grob, or even thapthim krop…the list goes on and on!) the Thai name for red rubies literally means crunchy rubies or crunchy pomegranate seeds. In Thai, “tub tim” can either mean ruby or pomegranate and “krob” means crunchy.

While many Thai people, including me, think that tub tim in the name refers to pomegranate seeds because those tapioca jelly coated chestnut cubes resemble pomegranate seeds, others argue it’s tub tim, the gem, because the fruit actually got its name from the gem.

It doesn’t get any more confusing than that, I know. But since the name “red rubies” has been spread around, it would probably be hard to get people on the same page with you if you called this dessert pomegranate seeds in coconut cream. So, I guess I’ll go with red rubies.

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tub tim krob ingredients

Ingredients Used in Red Rubies Dessert

Coconut Syrup

  • 3 cups or about 675 milliliters of coconut cream
  • 3 pandan leaves, bruised
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 cups of sugar

Red Rubies / Tub Tim Krob

  • 3 cups of diced water chestnut
  • 2 cups of tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid red food color
  • 1 teaspoon of water

red ruby dessert or tub tim grob in a glass bowl


Coconut Syrup

  1. Pour the coconut cream into a pot and set it on low heat.
  2. Tie the bruised pandan leaves (as seen in the video tutorial) and add them to the pot.
  3. Add the salt, followed by the sugar, and stir until fully dissolved.
  4. Let simmer and remove from heat. Set aside to cool.

Red Rubies / Tub Tim Krob

  1. Place the diced water chestnut in a large bowl.
  2. Add the liquid red food color and water to it and mix well. Set aside for 10 minutes so that the water chestnut absorbs the food color.
  3. In the meantime, bring about 3 cups of water to a boil.
  4. Once the water chestnut has absorbed the water, place the tapioca flour in another large bowl. Add the colored water chestnut to it and mix with a spoon, making sure that all sides are evenly coated.
  5. With a slotted spoon, take some coated water chestnut and sift to remove the excess flour. Do not use a flour sifter in this step as the holes are too tiny to remove any lumps.
  6. Throw the water chestnut into boiling water and cook until floating.
  7. Prepare a large bowl of iced or cold water.
  8. When the water chestnut is floating, it means the rubies are cooked. Simply use the same slotted spoon to transfer the rubies to the bowl of iced water to stop it from cooking.

Tips on Making this Easy Thai Dessert

Shredded Fresh Coconut, Pandan Leaves, and Thai Dessert Scented Candle

The Thick and Aromatic Coconut Syrup

The key to making the perfect red rubies dessert is to make sure that your coconut syrup is aromatic and not too watery (many Thais add water to the syrup but my recipe doesn’t call for that). If your syrup doesn’t have that beautiful scent, it’s better not to make this Thai dessert at all! And in order to achieve the scented coconut cream, you’ll want to:

1. Use Shredded Coconut to Make Your Own Coconut Cream

If there’s one thing I can tell you to take my word for, it is that you should get shredded fresh coconut to make your own coconut cream or milk whenever possible. Whether you’re cooking savory or sweet, homemade coconut cream will be much richer than any canned or carton coconut cream if made the right way. And, of course, this is going to affect the taste of your food.

In Thailand, you can usually find shredded fresh coconut at curry paste shops in wet markets. Note that there are two types of shredded coconut. You want to ask them to get you the plain white coconut for this recipe as we use this type of shredded coconut for desserts. The type that comes with brown bits (the shells) is cheaper, but it’s for making savory dishes like curries. And to make your own coconut cream, use 1 cup of warm water per 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of shredded coconut. Just add the water to the coconut, squeeze, and then drain.

2. Use Pandan Leaves or a Scented Candle for Thai Desserts to Give the Coconut Syrup a Beautiful Fragrance

These two things can make a HUGE difference to the flavor of your dessert but just pick one. I use pandan leaves because we grow pandan at home. If you’re using pandan leaves, make sure to bruise them before throwing them into the pot or they won’t do their job AT ALL. If you’re going with the scented candle, just light both ends of it, blow it out, place it in a small plastic sauce dish and let the dish float on the coconut syrup in a pot with a lid on for at least 30 minutes. The smoke will make your syrup smell divine!

3. Use the Ready-Made Scented Coconut Milk If You Can’t Find Any of the Above

It’s okay to use ready-made scented coconut cream like this one to make the coconut syrup. I know my readers are from all over the world and it won’t be easy for everyone to get shredded fresh coconut, pandan leaves, or a Thai dessert scented candle. So, you can get the scented coconut cream. It is kind of pricey overseas but it’s definitely worth the price! In fact, it’s so good that I guarantee you will fall in love with it. I actually use it myself a lot because a) I get so lazy at times, b) it’s really good, and c) it saves so much time.

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red ruby dessert or tub tim grob in a spoon

The Rubies / Tub Tim Krob

  • Water Chestnut

You can use either raw, cooked, or canned water chestnut. I normally use the cooked version I can easily get from the market or supermarket here. If you don’t live in Thailand, you can go with canned. Just make sure you drain and dry it well before dicing.

  • Alternative to Water Chestnut

If you can’t find water chestnut at all, you can replace it with jicama. Just peel and dice it in the same way you would water chestnut (roughly 1 cm for all sides). These two ingredients are used interchangeably to make tub tim krob here in Thailand. But in my opinion, water chestnut makes better rubies because it has that sweet and nutty flavor whereas jicama is quite bland.

Thai red rubies dessert or tub tim krob in a slotted spoon

Want to Make it Fancier?

Kopyor Coconut and/or Jackfruit

To make red rubies dessert even more glorious than it already is, you can add the optional Thai kopyor coconut (maprao kathi) which is probably the best mutant to ever have occurred on this planet! Shhh, don’t be put off by the word mutant. You’re actually more than okay to eat it, and it has a fun chewy texture and very creamy!

I’m not sure if you can find them in your country or not because these bad boys are a rarity even in Thailand. If you can’t find them, just do the rubies. In terms of price, you can get whole kopyor coconuts for ฿100-150 in Thap Sakae, Prachub Khiri Khan when they’re in season. If you’re in Bangkok, then you can definitely get the flesh cooked in syrup from Or Tor Kor market.

If you’re a fan of jackfruit, you can tear it into strips and add them to this dessert as well.

Serving and Storing

To serve, equally split the red rubies into 6 dessert bowls and pour the coconut syrup over them. Tub tim krob is often enjoyed with crushed ice in Thailand so you can add some of that to each bowl. Remember that the ice will dilute the coconut syrup, so make sure the syrup is sweet enough if you are serving this dessert with ice.

If you don’t finish red rubies within one setting, you can add a bit of light syrup to them to prevent them from sticking to each other and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Red rubies are best consumed within the day of making, as the coating tends to fall off easily if kept for longer.

Other Recipes You Might Enjoy:

  • Mango Sticky Rice
  • Thai Tea Cheesecake
  • Thai Sticky Rice Pudding with Corn
  • Sweet Potato Balls
  • Steamed Pumpkin Cake | Khanom Fak Thong

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