So much for variety
So Much For Variety, Catching The Fancy of Food Lovers. After Chinese and continental, the cuisines that have caught the fancy of foodies world over are Thai and Indian. Even in India, amongst the many cuisines catching the fancy of food lovers, Thai is the latest craze.
It is as much the newer tastes as the common elements that make cuisines like Thai easily palatable for Indians.
After Chinese and continental, the cuisines that have caught the fancy of foodies world over are Thai and Indian. Even in India, amongst the many cuisines catching the fancy of food lovers, Thai is the latest craze. The hot and spicy flavour of the Thai cuisine makes is easily palatable for Indians and the main base of noodles and rice makes it a more comfortable for the palate of Asians. For the curry-loving countries like the US and Britain, on the other hand, Thai not only supplies to the curry and spice fetish, but it is also more affordable than the Indian cuisine at the restaurants. In fact, some universities abroad, advice Indian students to try out Thai cuisine for its cost-effective and closer to home taste.
Definitely the spice levels are high, especially, courtesy the bird-eye chilli; but unlike Indian food that is known for its unmistakable use of ginger, garlic and dry spices like cardamom, clove etc., and use of onion and tomato to add volume; Thai is about galangal, lemon grass, krachai (finger-root ginger), Thai red chilli, kafir lime and pandana leaf. Of course there is extensive use of garlic, be it raw crushed, shred, golden-fried to be used in salads, rice etc.
The process of cooking too is similar in many dishes. Kai Haw Baitoey – marinated chicken morsels wrapped in Pandanus leaves and fried that sounds distinctly familiar to the Kerala dish Patra ni Machchi – fish in green chutney steamed in a banana leaf and Macher Paturi – Bengali fish marinated in mustard prepared in banana leaf.
The Thais even have the Masaaman curry which is similar to the Rogan Josh, a lamb curry mostly prepared in the Muslim dominated areas of Thailand. The classic dessert Tub Tim Grob is nothing but the Elaneer Payasam, but a more elaborate preparation with diced water chestnuts soaked overnight in rose syrup added, giving the dish a distinct character. There is use of peanuts, jaggery, tamarind and lime for sourness, use of turmeric too in Thai cuisine.
If we start exploring various cuisines, it leads to interesting revelations on how history of man, the invasions, travels and settlements have affected the food habits of natives and have given birth to interesting fusion that has over the time taken the identity of a new cuisine. And this adds to the excitement of trying dishes and cuisines that share common elements, which are easily palatable.
Today Thai food that people eat is not just about the red and green curry, the raw papaya salad Som Tam and the spicy and flavourful soup Tom Yum – Kai, satays and fried rice; it is also about interesting starters like tofu wrapped in betel leaves topped with glass noodles and plum sauce, Pla Rad Prik – crispy fried fish topped with tangy sauce and Thai herbs and Yod Ma Prao Himmapan – Palm hearts with cashew nuts. Thailand grows pumpkins that are smaller in size and the Fakthong Sangkaya - steamed pumpkin custard flavoured with jaggery (like many Indian desserts) and pandana leaf is extremely yummy.
Many of the Thai dishes has some element reminding you of dishes made in different parts of India. So much for variety!