Earthy, tangy and savoury with a subtle spicy punch, Thai food has a distinct appeal when it comes to treating the palate. What sets this cuisine apart is its fresh ingredients that lend that special character. Not only do they elevate the taste but also offer medicinal benefits. Here we touch upon the top Thai food ingredients that are used generously…
Infusing a tropical touch, lemongrass appeals with its subtle yet sharp flavour. This prized herb brings in a delicate citrusy and tangy punch to the cuisine. Vaibav Verma, Executive Chef, Grand Mercure, Bangalore shares, “Apart from the obvious lemon zing, lemongrass has that sweetness that builds up the body of the dish.”
Another factor that makes this so special is its invigorating aroma that instantly uplifts up the senses (for this very reason its essential oil is used in some many spa and beauty products). And last but not least, you can also benefit from its umpteen health advantages such as aiding of digestion, relieving anxiety, reducing bloating and more.
How to use: It’s the tender part that is edible, so do away with the lower end and the outer layer. Chop into small pieces or leave it slightly long as per your choice.
Dishes that can be prepared: Relish this special herb in your piping hot soups, healthy stir-fries and curries. Think spicy lemongrass chicken, lemongrass and coconut curry, Thai green curry and more…
“Galangal gets you that earthiness, nuttiness and comfort feeling that an Asian dish brings about,” says Vaibav Verma. He adds, “When it comes to Thai cuisine for me, it is all about kaffir lime and galangal, these are predominately the two ingredients that actually flip around the dish to the base.” Though this root resembles ginger, it varies in taste and is citrusy, zingy and piney in nature. This ingredient is ideal to balance the heaviness of meat preparations.
Galangal is also soaked in medicinal and anti-inflammatory properties. Some of them include healing an upset stomach, regulating high blood pressure and fighting free radicals.
How to use: Just like ginger, you can remove the skin and dice it into little pieces. Either that or you can put chunky pieces in your broth and take it out at the time of serving.
Dishes that can be prepared: Slurp on Tom Kha Gai soup, galangal infused teas or savour it in your curries, rice preparations and other soups.
Kaffir lime leaves
Another essential component of Thai cuisine, kaffir lime leaves are often used for their incredible aroma and citrusy flavour. As per chef Vaibav Verma, it brings in that zest that is much required for Thai cuisine.
These magical glossy green wonders come with medicinal benefits which include destressing and preventing the growth of bacteria. It’s also recommended in spa treatments by celebrity honchos.
How to use: Kaffir leaves come in a fresh or frozen form. Add them whole into your delicacies, chop them into super thin strings and use them as a topping or while blending with other ingredients. Just ensure that you remove the ribs before doing so.
Dishes that can be prepared: Elevate the taste of your curries, stir-fries and soups. Thai coconut curry, green curries and exotic rice bowls are some of the dishes that can be conjured up with this delight.
True to its natural form, thanks to minimal processing and no additives, palm sugar offers a pleasant earthy sweetness to the food. Like brown sugar, it offers that caramelised flavour that perfectly balances the citrusy and astringent palate.
Proof that not all sweets are bad, this goodness is packed with several minerals and vitamins and iron. It also has a low glycemic index.
How to use: Palm sugar is usually sold in hardened blocks. Depending upon the dish, you can shave them or add the chunks to hot dishes and let them melt.
Dishes that can be prepared: Dig into the classic Pad Thai, Thai chicken curry, grilled chicken and more. Swap it with refined sugar in your desserts to bring in that healthy twist.
Delivering a potent punch, fish sauce is an essential flavour enhancer for Thai food. The ingredient can be described as earthy, savoury and pungent. As per Chef Vaibav, fish sauce lends that tanginess and zing to the cuisine.
The sauce also contains umpteen nutrients and minerals that are present in fish and fish organs. Further, its antioxidant properties help fight free radicals.
How to use: Fish sauce can be incorporated as it is in your dishes. The quantity can be moderated as per the intensity of taste that you desire.
Dishes that can be prepared: Relish the ingredient in tangy green-papaya salad, dipping sauces, soups and more.
Try these different combinations and bring in that Thai punch to your food.