It’s hard to say what makes Thai food tick. Perhaps, it’s the unconventional mix of sweet, sour, spicy and salty flavours. Or, maybe, the interesting blend of fresh herbs and spices. No Thailand trip can be complete without exploring Thai cuisine – from award-winning restaurants to streets that tempt with divine aromas.
Northeastern Thai meals tend to be spicier than their Southern counterparts. Initially, though all Thai foods were stewed, baked or grilled, today with culinary influences from China, India, Japan, France and Portugal, new cooking methods have made their way into Thai kitchens. Traditionally, Thai meals are not served in courses and food at the table is meant to be shared. In other words, you order the rice, noodles, soups, curries and salads, all at once and enjoy the diverse flavours together. Wondering what should be on your Thai food menu? Here’s our list:
For the love of rice
The Thais – world’s largest exporter of rice – simply cannot do without their staple food! From the sweet-smelling, long-grain Jasmine Rice and the steamed, white KhaoSuoy to the customary KhaoNiaw (sticky rice), the favoured ingredient is at the heart of Thai cuisine.
Khao Pad, Thailand’s famous Fried Rice, is more than a simple medley of KhaoSuoy, onions, herbs, eggs, your choice of meat (prawns, crab or chicken), and chili sauce.
Similarly, KhaoMan Gai, a popular midday snack, is more than just a mix of tender chicken and rice, served with chicken broth, along with sweet and spicy sauces.
In Thailand, noodles are not really a substitute for rice, as they are generally made of rice! You could opt for egg noodles or mungbean-based glass noodles, though. When it comes to Pad Thai (Thai-style Fried Noodles), the crunchy bean sprouts, tofu, onions, egg, fish sauce, sugar, chilli powder and finely ground peanuts can be blended in countless ways.
Mungbean Based Glass Noodles
Soups & Salads
When in Thailand, don’t miss the hot and spicy Tom Yum Goong (shrimp soup). The combination of fresh lemongrass, chilli, galangal (a variant of ginger), lime leaves, shallots, lime juice and fish sauce lends it cult status in the gastronomy world.
Tom Yum Goong
For a sweet twist, try Tom KhaGai – a cool blend of coconut milk with lemongrass, galangal and chicken. For a milder version, slurp on Tom Kha Kai – a classy mix of tender chicken with creamy coconut milk.
Not to forget, the staple of the Thai eating experience, the Noodle Soup, or KuayTiew. Did you know that salads are considered among the spiciest Thai dishes? Som Tam (spicy green papaya salad)is considered the hottest, while Yam Nua (spicy beef salad) is in a league of its own!
The Thai food recipes are almost synonymous with coconut milk and fresh herbs. While GaengDaeng (red curry) is a blend of meat, red curry paste, coconut milk and finely sliced lime leaves, GaengKeow Wan Kai (green chicken curry) brings together chicken, eggplants, bamboo shoots, coriander, basil and spoonful of green curry paste stirred into hot creamy coconut milk.
Thailand’s most innovative curry, though, has to be Kai Med Ma Muang (chicken with cashew nuts). Imagine roasted cashews, sweet soy sauce, onions, chillies, pepper, carrot, mushrooms and a dash of honey, with the goodness of chicken!
Kai Med Ma Muang
Thai desserts are, typically, made from rice, coconut milk and sugar. Colourful rice cakes, anyone? The most popular sweet, though, has to be KhaoNiaw – an interesting fusion of sticky rice and mango. That said, a bowl of pineapple, banana, watermelon, papaya, dragon fruit or jackfruit can also work as dessert.