Chef Supattra’s fascination with Thai cuisine began when she was a little girl.
Most Thai food aficionados, who by the way are a humongous number, would attest to the fact that the cuisine is peppered with various layers, each burrowed in a compelling narrative of its own. Thai food is a mouth-watering medley of sweet and sour, salty and spicy. The cuisine incorporates a whole lot of vegetables, sauces, dips as well as a variety of meats and seafood. But authentic Thai food is hard to come by, which is where Head Chef Supattra, manning the kitchen at Thai restaurant, Thai Soul, Grand Hyatt, Kochi, scores for its authenticity. Walk into the restaurant at 8.30 am and chef Supattra would be there issuing orders to her crew, judging the freshness of the veggies, fish and meats, making sure that everything works like clockwork to give the patrons a dining experience they will not forget in a hurry.
It has been 23 years of working as a chef for the brand across various countries in their Thai kitchens. This time it is Kerala that has beckoned and she wants to promote the authentic food of her land. Thai food is not only tasty but is also focused on the aromatic aspects of cooking. Galangal (Thai ginger), lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil, cilantro and other fragrant herbs and spices are used with a generous hand to infuse those wonderful, but subtle flavours. What also adds to the depth of flavours are the oyster sauces, fish sauces and a variety of chilli pastes and powders that enhance flavours. So the thought does come to mind of how Supattra sources her ingredients, some of which come from Thailand.
“I am glad to state that we get the ingredients like lemongrass, ginger, chillies, etc locally. I have to import few items, like the condiments, from Thailand,” she says, a fact that surprises her. She also has a herb garden at the hotel premises where she grows aromatic herbs — an idea of Supattra’s.
The seafood variety available in Kochi has her face breaking into a wide smile. The variety in Kerala astounded her. She says, “The fish is fresh, especially the prawns.”
So what is the allure of Thai dishes? “We cannot cook without fish sauce and palm sugar. If people do not like palm sugar, we reduce the quantity and if anybody has an aversion to fish sauce, we replace that with soy sauce.” The fragrant Thai jasmine rice is an important element of all Thai meals. The sticky rice is a favourite, which is best eaten with chopsticks.
Supattra can talk at length about her passion for cooking which was passed down to her.
A native of North-eastern Thailand, she says, “My father was the cook at a restaurant and I was the only one of my siblings who did not go to school. I used to watch my father mash, chop and grind and fell in love with cooking. I picked up the basics and when people expressed their happiness after having the food I made, that brought me happiness.
That became my goal — to make people happy through my cooking.” This is what she does to this day. She loves to cook even on her off days and never gets tired of donning the apron. She has a trained team that helps to concoct the authentic dishes.
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