Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, is one of the fastest growing cities of the world. Its affluence comes from the rare combination of the modern and the ancient. It is ranked third after London and Paris in MasterCard’s Global Destination Cities Index and has been named “World’s Best City” for three consecutive years by renowned travel magazines. With all its modernity, it still holds on to its rich heritage. Buddhist Temples are a common sight on most streets as is the sight of wondering tourists. This fusion of old and new is apparent even in the city’s cuisine. Tourism being a major industry of Bangkok, it would be safe to say, the delectable food here is one of the many reasons for which people from all around the world flock to this city. With the innumerable street foods of all variety and a kaleidoscope of flavours, there are also some authentic recipes in Bangkok’s menus.
A very typical flavour in most foods of Bangkok is from “Galangal”, an herb of the ginger family. This city boasts of a unique cuisine, which comes out of the melting pot of combinations of Chinese, Indian, Malaysian and Portuguese recipes and more. The repeated use of flavourful tamarind, coconut milk, lemon grass, fish sauce and herbs are prevalent with the combination of sea food and meat. The list of foods that are ‘not to be missed’ is enormously long. However, here’s presenting you the five dishes that one absolutely can’t afford to miss while in Bangkok.
Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup):
Every feast starts with a soup and this particular dish spells Thai flavours at its best. Herbs like lemongrass, chilli, galangal, lime leaves, shallots, lime juice and fish sauce are the heart beats of this dish. The texture is built in with straw mushrooms and shrimps, all simmered in a spicy hot liquid gravy. A whiff of this aromatic presentation will have your taste buds tickled to a smile. Get a bowl of steaming goodness and enjoy till the last drop.
Som Tum (Spicy Green Papaya Salad):
A perfect starter for most meals is the salad, and Som Tum is one of a kind when it comes to taste. A rare combination of garlic, chillies, green beans, cherry tomatoes and shredded raw papaya, all mixed together to enhance the flavours. Originated from the north-eastern state of Isaan, the bold sweet-sour taste is often peppered with nutty bites of peanuts. Dried crabs or shrimps are also added occasionally. The whole array of tastes is rounded up by lime juice or tamarind juice, resulting in a serving most will never forget. Like most versatile dishes, this has its own variations too, making the recipe even more interesting. Bite into the crunchy freshness of the Som Tum, loaded with taste, and decide for yourself.
Pad Thai (Thai style Fried Noodles):
Food from the east cannot be complete without noodles being part of the menu. Every street and restaurant is filled with noodles of varieties of textures and tastes. Each has their unique identity, but Pad Thai is one which has the country’s name in it. Pad Thai is one of the well-known dishes around the world, so it can be safely said it has gained an international status. A quick toss in a searing wok with noodles of your choice along with crunchy bean sprouts, onions and eggs and the Pad Thai is ready. This entangled, delightful plate gets to be accompanied by the condiment of your choice. So the chef leaves you to choose which flavours to play with by adding fish sauce, sugar, chilli powder and finely ground peanuts. Ten to one odds are you will request a second helping.
Khao Phad (Fried Rice):
Rice is another staple ingredient in eastern cuisines. It grows in abundance in the region making it affordable and easily available. Translated literally ‘Khao’ means rice and ‘Phad’ means almost fried. This fried rice is prepared from aromatic Thai Jasmine Rice. This variety of rice is quite different from the long grained rice used in most of the Chinese fried rice recipes. Chicken and flavours of the sea from crabs and shrimps blend with egg, garlic and tomato tantalise the palate in this dish. The whole dish is seasoned generously with soy sauce, sugar, salt, possibly some chilli sauce and the ever present fish sauce. Different regions of the country put in their own versions with a tweak here and there. The plate of steaming rice is served with the freshness of cucumber, tomato, spring onions as well as a sprinkle of cilantro. Every grain has a flavour filled story to tell.
Gaeng Daeng (Red Curry):
Renowned Chef Chat Mingkwan defines Gaeng Daeng or Thai Red Curry is, “the most often cooked curry in the Thai household”. He continues saying, “If a home chef can’t decide which curry to prepare that would please all family members, he or she will end up making red curry. Its paste can be easily made with staple ingredients in the Thai pantry, such as dried chillies, garlic, shallots, and dried herbs and spices. The paste also pairs well with nearly all ingredients, especially any vegetables that grow near the house or those that have been left in the refrigerator.”
After such an introduction, it is obvious that this particular dish holds the actual essence of Thai food. The dish is a pool of gravy made of curry paste with especial generosity with regards to red chillies. To thicken the curry coconut milk is added. A variety of non-vegetarian items such as chicken, beef, pork, duck, shrimp or tofu can be the star ingredient in this bowl of red gravy.
Touring the high modernity and the quaint heritage of Bangkok, every individual would enjoy its food and discover new sensations in taste. Most meals end with a sweet tooth satisfying the palate, we would like to end this savoury journey with a plate of Layered Crepe Cake. Thin layers of delicate crepes slathered with whipped cream and doused with strawberry sauce are an exhilarating gastronomic experience. Along with the visual treats and feast for your senses, go ahead and taste the gourmet delights of this city as well. Have the great experience of a food holiday in Bangkok!