L'Art de la cuisine cambodgienne | The Culinary Art of Cambodia

by Rasmi Sobbhana Norodom

Traditional Khmer cuisine recipes compiled by the Royal Aunt of King Norodom Sihanouk.

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Type: paperback

Publisher: United States Information Service, Phnom Penh

Edition: Facsimile of the original edition, courtesy of H.R.H. Sisowath Tesso.

Published: 1960

Author: Rasmi Sobbhana Norodom

Pages: 245

Languages : English, French

ADB Library Catalog ID: CULI-2

Initiated as a collection of cooking recipes for the young pupils of the Sutharot School in Phnom Penh, H.R.H. Princess Norodom Rasmi Sobhana's book became an important recension of traditional Cambodian cuisine. While Indian, Chinese and Southeast Asian influences are noticeable, the core of Cambodian diet and culinary techniques can be traced back to the ancient history of the Kingdom.

The difference between "royal" and "popular" cuisines in Cambodia never came to be as marked as in Laotian or Thai traditions. The recipes detailed in this book reflect what Cambodians used to eat during centuries as a mostly agrarian society, with a significantly diverse diet where fish, vegetables and harvested leaves, seeds and roots were (and remain) essential.


Princess Rasmi Sobhana at the White House with President Kennedy in 1963 (JFK Archives)

  • King Sihanouk (who had been a student at the Sutharot School, where the author taught) used his aunt's book when he developed cooking as a hobby during his exile in China and North Korea in the 1980s. With another of his aunts, Princess Norodom Keth Kanyamom (also a daughter of King Sutharot's), the King explored traditional cuisine and even authored his own recipe, "Petits gateaux de banane au beurre de cacahuete et caramel" (Peanut butter and caramel flavored Banana Cakes).
  • In 2000, King Sihanouk prefaced the book The Cuisine of Cambodia by Bangkok-based author Nusara Thaitawat, which refers to Princess Rasmi Sobhana's recipe collection.
  • Gala dinners showcasing some of Princess Rasmi Sobhana's recipes have been held at the Shangri-La Hotel (Changchun, China) and The Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor (Siem Reap)


(Photos from King Norodom' Sihanouk's official website)


In May 2021, we published Princess Rasmi Sobbhana's culinary book in Khmer and English.

Tags: Khmer cuisine, social history, Cambodia Royal Family

About the Author


Rasmi Sobbhana Norodom

H.R.H. Princess Norodom Rasmi Sobbhana (សម្តេចព្រះរាជកនិដ្ឋា នរោត្តម រស្មីសោភ័ណ្, Samdech Preah Reach Kanitha Norodom Reaksmey Sophoan in Khmer) (Nov. 1898, Phnom Penh -1971, Phnom Penh), daughter of Prince Norodom Sutharot and Princess Norodom Phangangam, was the sister of King Norodom Suramarit, sister-in-law of Queen Kossamak of Cambodia and aunt of King Norodom Sihanouk.

Unmarried, she dedicated her life to social action, in particular the education and empowerment of young women in the Kingdom of Cambodia, as a teacher at Phnom Penh Sutharot School and as the author of two published books: Motifs décoratifs Khmers à l'usage de la broderie (1954) and L'Art de la cuisine cambodgienne (1960). She has been credited of being the first to create the modern 'Apsara dance' form in 1958.

In 1995, H.R.H. Princess Norodom Ranaridh Marie created the Samdech Rasmi Sobbhana Women's Foundation, named after S.A.R. Princess Rasmi Sobhana. Initially a shelter for war orphans and refugee children on the Thai-Cambodian border, the Sobbhana Foundation opened three training centers helping young Cambodians to master traditional craft skills such as silk weaving, embroidery or wood carving. In 2022, after the expanded republication of the Princess' book, a Samdech Rasmi Sobbhana Scholarship Program was launched with the proceeds from this non-commercial publication, with the active support of Templation Angkor Resort and Angkor Database.

Courtesy of JFK Library

In the 1950s and 1960s, Samdech Kanitha was actively helping King Norodom Sihanouk in his effort to promote his non-aligned diplomacy, as seen for instance in the first photo, in the White Office Oval Office, with President John F. Kennedy in 1960. Below, photos (retrieved by @Neath Coffee, 9/7/2023) show Princess Rasmi Sobbhana at the arrival of King Norodom Sihanouk's royal visit in Luang Prabang, Kingdom of Laos, in 1961. The Cambodian princess is seen between King Srey Svang Vathana, the last sovereign of the Kingdom of Laos, and his spouse [unfortunate watermarks added by the French Defense Ministy Information Service hide part of her face].

The Princess' portrait in the book Apsara Dance, dedicated to Queen Kossamak and to her.