Grabong Northern Thai Pumpkin Fritter Recipe

Grabong is our favourite quick & easy deep fried appetizer from Thailand.

Grabong, also known as Gra Bong, is a traditional deep fried dish from Northern Thailand. The crispy dish is sold in Thailand as a popular street snack and features grated squash, shaved carrot, red curry paste, coconut milk, rice flour and shredded coconut.

We’ve traveled extensively through Thailand and eaten at all of the best Thai restaurants in Toronto. We’ve taken Thai cooking classes in Chang Mai and learned expert cooking techniques courtesy of the executive chef at JW Marriott Phuket Resort.

Cooking Thai food at home is quick and easy. Our flavourful Grabong recipe takes under 20 minutes to prepare and keeps in the fridge for several days. You’ll love loitering over these spicy Thai Squash Fritter leftovers!

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Save our Grabong Thai Pumpkin Fritter Recipe to Pinterest!

Travel to Thailand by Making Grabong Pumpkin Fritter at Home

I love traveling through Asia. My first visit had me living in South Korea for a year as a teacher and it’s where I was first introduced to fermented vegetables like kimchi.

After my contract ended in Seoul I travelled throughout southeast Asia for 6 months, visiting the PhilippinesIndonesiaMalaysiaSingaporeCambodia, MyanmarThailandVietnam and Laos.

On my first visit I spent over a month backpacking through Thailand. I’ve revisited Thailand two times since as a food and travel journalist and always love to discover new regional dishes. Over the years I’ve explored Thai destinations such as Ko Phi Phi, Krabi, Chiang Khong, Chang Mai, Sukothai and Bangkok.

What I found most fascinating is Thailand’s distinct regional food cultures. Much like the regional cuisines found in GermanyItaly or Spain, each town in Thailand had its own local speciality.

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Ingredients you'll need to make our Grabong Thai Pumpkin Fritter recipe.
Ingredients you’ll need to make our Grabong Thai Pumpkin Fritter recipe.
Prep Grabong fritters by grating pumpkin, sweet potato and carrot.
Prep Grabong fritters by grating pumpkin, sweet potato and carrot.

Where To Eat Northern Thai Pumpkin Fritters

If you live in a large city in Canada or America you’ll likely have access to a local Thai restaurant that serves traditional Grabong.

Haven’t traveled to Thailand before? It may be helpful to first sample Grabong at a local Thai restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You can also assess the variety of ingredients used and sample the correct texture before trying to make Thai Squash Fritters at home from scratch.

I spent months researching the best Thai restaurants in Toronto, visiting popular restaurants that serve authentic Thai dishes such as Sabai Sabai, Sukothai, Khao San Road, Pai, Kiin, Bangkok Garden, Mengrai Thai and Favorites Thai BBQ. If you’re looking to sample authentic Grabong in Toronto try visiting one of these award-winning restaurants.

Toss grated vegetables in a mixing bowl with Thai coconut curry batter.
Toss grated vegetables in a mixing bowl with Thai coconut curry batter.

What Is Grabong?

Grabong, also known as Gra Bong and Thai Pumpkin Fritters, is an authentic street food dish served in Northern Thailand.

The popular Thai tempura is essentially made of shredded vegetables that are mixed with flavourful curry paste and coconut milk and fried in a rice flour batter. What’s great about Grabong is that unlike Japanese tempura, which uses wheat flour, the use of rice flour makes the fritter gluten free!

Pumpkin fritters were originally cooked as a snack by the Shan people, who called it Khang Pong. In the local dialect the recipe translates to “Khang” pan and “Pong” golden. So Khang Pong simply means “golden fried in a pan.”

The vegetables often used to make traditional Grabong are squash, banana blossom, green papaya, bamboo shoots, taro root and sweet potato.

Scoop 1/4 cup of grabong batter and gently drop into deep fry oil.
Scoop 1/4 cup of grabong batter and gently drop into deep fry oil.

Grabong Health Benefits

Our Thai Pumpkin fritter recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!

An excellent source of vitamin A and the phytochemical beta-carotene, carrots help keep your eyes and bones healthy, and may help protect against several types of cancer.

All varieties of pumpkin (or squash) are nutritious, but butternut squash is a superfood because it contains high levels of carotenoids, which help combat cancer and support skin health.

An excellent source of vitamins A and C, sweet potatoes boost your immune system and help keep your skin healthy. They also have a very low glycemic index, providing a steady supply of energy to your body. 

Remove crispy grabong from deep fry oil with metal spatula once golden brown.
Remove crispy grabong from deep fry oil with metal spatula once golden brown.

Types of Thai Curry

In Thailand, curry refers both to dishes in Thai cuisine that are made with various types of curry paste and to the pastes themselves. A wet Thai curry is made from curry paste, coconut milk, meat, seafood, vegetables and herbs. 

You’ll find unique regional takes on the Thai curry concept in neighbouring countries such as Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Popular Thai curries include Green, Red, Yellow, Penang and Masaman. Most Thai curries are categorized by the colour of the curry paste. The colour of the chilies and other ingredients gives each curry its distinct hue. Traditionally, all Thai curries were made with the same ingredients except for one thing: the chilies. Usually green curry is the mildest, red is the hottest and yellow falls somewhere in between.

Masaman Curry uniquely influenced Thai cooking thanks to visiting Persian traders. Masaman is a broken translation for Muslim. It originated in the south of Thailand near the border of Malaysia and is a thick sauce with a mild, slightly sweet flavour. Massaman curry dishes distinguish themselves by the inclusion of several whole spices and peanuts.

Penang Curry is sweeter than its sister, spicy Thai Red Curry. It is named for the island of Penang off the west coast of Malaysia and is served sometimes topped with coconut cream.

Most Thai curry paste recipes are made with spicy chilies, garlic, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, shallot, fish sauce, shrimp paste, cane sugar, lime, spices and coconut milk.

We use Thai red curry paste when preparing Grabong.

Serve grabong pumpkin fritters with Thai sweet chili dipping sauce.
Serve grabong pumpkin fritters with Thai sweet chili dipping sauce.

Homemade Thai Red Curry Paste

Feel free to use your favourite store bought Thai curry paste at the grocery store or prepare from scratch in your kitchen. Use a mortar and pestle to grind all the ingredients together until you’ve created a smooth and fragrant mixture. This homemade Thai red curry paste recipe yields 4-5 tablespoons.

  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, roasted until brown
  • 2 cardamom pods, roasted until brown
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10, large red dried chillies (seeds removed soaked in water for 10 minutes then finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp galangal, skin removed and chopped
  • 2 tsp lemongrass, chopped
  • 1 tsp kaffir lime peel, chopped
  • 1 tbsp coriander root, chopped
  • 3 tbsp shallots, chopped
  • 3 tbsp garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • 10, Thai red chillies
Grabong are our favourite Thai deep fried appetizer.
Grabong are our favourite Thai deep fried appetizer.

Tips for Making Homemade Grabong

If it’s your first time making authentic Grabong we suggest you start by reading the ingredients list and recipe directions below.

Grabong is the perfect quick & easy Thai appetizer to make when you’ve got a busy week and find yourself unable to cook for hours on end. From start to finish it take under 30 minutes to cook the recipe at home in your kitchen.

You can easily make this dish using only squash but we like to use a combination of pumpkin, carrot and sweet potato. You can easily shred the vegetables with a cheese grater or if you have a food processor you can speed up the process and reduce your prep time in the kitchen.

We suggest cooking Grabong in a deep frier or large wok. Use a metal sieve or slotted spoon to remove the crispy Thai squash fritters once they are finished cooking. Place cooling racks on a baking sheet beside the stove and let the oil drip from the fritters before serving.

If you’re hosting a large dinner party we suggest deep frying the grabong squash fritters in advance. Once they have cooled store them in the fridge and simply reheat in a 400 degree oven to crisp them up before you’re ready to serve your guests.

Spicy coconut & squash fritters are the best appetizer to serve at a Thai dinner party.
Spicy coconut & pumpkin fritters are the best appetizer to serve at a Thai dinner party.

What To Serve with Grabong

Grabong is typically enjoyed as an appetizer, served with Thai sweet chili dipping sauce and chopped roasted peanuts.

If you’re hosting a large dinner party, pair homemade Grabong with steamed rice, stir fried noodles, papaya salad and a selection of entrees including our favourite curries such as Thai Beef and Pumpkin Curry, Thai Red Prawn Curry and Pad Kra Pao.

The squash fritters keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 days so store it in an airtight container.

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Store leftover grabong in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Store leftover grabong in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Best Grabong Thai Pumpkin Fritter Recipe

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5 from 4 votes

Grabong Northern Thai Squash Fritters

Looking to learn how to make Grabong? Our gluten free recipe for Northern Thai squash fritters features coconut milk, red curry paste and rice flour.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Asian, Thai
Keyword: gluten free fritter, Grabong, pumpkin fritter, Vegetarian Fritters
Servings: 6
Calories: 297kcal

Equipment

  • Wok or Deep Frier
  • Cheese Grater or Food Processor
  • French knife
  • mixing bowl
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • Metal slotted spoon
  • baking sheet
  • Cooling racks

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Rice flour
  • 1 cup Coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp White sugar
  • 1/2 cup Shredded coconut soaked in water
  • 2 cups Pumpkin or Squash shredded
  • 1/2 cup Carrots shredded
  • 1/2 cup Sweet Potato shredded
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying

Instructions

  • Shred carrots and squash on a cheese grater or with a food processor. Soak the vegetables in water.
  • In a large mixing bowl stir rice flour, coconut milk, salt, sugar, curry paste and shredded coconut.
  • Strain vegetables and add to batter, stirring until fully combined.
  • Put 2-3 cups of vegetable oil in a wok and set it over medium heat. Wait until the oil is hot before you drop 1/4 cup of grabong batter into the sizzling oil.
  • Flip each Thai squash fritter once so they are browned evenly on both sides.
  • Cool grabong on a rack to let oil drain before serving with Thai Sweet Chili Sauce and chopped peanuts.

Nutrition

Calories: 297kcal | Carbohydrates: 36.3g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 16.2g | Saturated Fat: 10.7g | Sodium: 843mg | Potassium: 422mg | Fiber: 5.2g | Sugar: 5.5g | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 3mg

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