After last issue’s guide on Italian cuisine, Manali Shah takes you on a virtual tour of Thailand’s popular food delights.
Tom Yum Soup
This soup invariably finds a mention in all Thai, and often Chinese, restaurants. But this is an original Thai creation and owing to its hot and sour flavour, which has found much appreciation in the neighbouring countries. Apart from chicken stock; lemongrass, kaffir leaves and galangal (Thai ginger) are the herbs responsible for the heavenly aroma that arises from this clear orange-coloured yum soup (pun intended). Tom Yum Goong is a well-liked touristy version of this soup and features prawns as the chief ingredient. Rice can be an accompaniment for this spicy soup, although it tastes just as good on its own.
Green Thai Curry
Indians are no strangers to curries and Thai cuisine boasts of several variations. This one, in particular, is extremely spicy with a just a hint of sweetness to it. It is made with coconut milk, green chillies, galangal, shallots (type of onion), aubergine, and is flavoured with Thai basil for an inviting aroma. It is cooked with all kinds of meat and fish alike, though vegetarian alternatives will be available (in India, not Thailand!). It is a main course dish, to be eaten with roti or rice. Interestingly, the paste for Green Thai Curry is made in a mortar, which is typical to Asian food.
Pad Thai (also known as Phat Thai)
These fried noodles (Pad means ‘fried’ in Thai) have a rather unusual and interesting history. To tackle widespread unemployment after World War II, the government ofThailandencouraged setting up of noodle shops. Step-by-step instructions on how to make basic noodles were handed out to the masses. Chinese immigrants added their hot and sweet flavours to these noodles, and thus was born Pad Thai. The classic way of cooking it is to stir-fry the noodles with eggs, fish sauce, red chili pepper, bean sprouts, shrimp, chicken or tofu. The ingredient that makes or breaks this delicacy is the Pad Thai sauce, which is the spicy cousin of the sweet and sour sauce. This dish is one ofThailand’s national dishes and with good reason.
Khao Phad (also known as Khao Phat)
Khao literally means rice inThai.As inviting as a name can get, this Thai fried rice gives off a nice aroma since the rice used is fragrant, such as jasmine rice. Chicken, shrimp, pork and tofu are the favoured choices for Khao Phad. It may be seasoned with soy sauce, or the very popular Nam Pla (fish sauce). A few sprigs of coriander and spring onion are then sprinkled on top as a garnish. Khao Phad is not very different from the Chinese version of fried rice. There is a certain way the Thai serve this dish. You will find a few slices of cucumber and lime wedges to be present beside the rice.
Chicken, pork or beef are marinated for a good couple of hours in an assortment of spices and sauces before threading them in skewers. They are then placed on heat, and garnished with a little bit of cilantro when done. Vegetarians can opt for satay of tofu and soy. Peanut sauce is the most preferred and loved accompaniment for satay. This popular style of grilling meat on skewers originated in Indonesia, but has caught the fancy of the neighbouring and western countries alike.