Thai cuisine is not all about the coconut-rich popular curries but also the meat dishes.
Indian taste buds have always been guarded by this heavy wall of spices and condiments that we bully any cuisine if it fails to impress our spice levels. We are so unforgiving to bland food that we never spare second thoughts on Indianising anything to suit our palate. For example, Chinese dishes.
Our taste buds have bullied Oriental cuisine for so long that we often fail to appreciate local culture and cuisine when we travel abroad. On returning to India, we play safe and order the popular green curry and red curry at a Thai restaurant. Thai cuisine is not all about the coconut-rich popular curries from the central Thailand which suits Indian palates more. Thai cuisine is equally popular for food from the Isan region of Thailand where the cuisine is not coconut rich, but meat dishes flavoured with basic herbs and condiments in natural broth.
The North Eastern/Isan region of Thailand has the influence of Laos and Cambodia in their cuisine and most dishes are suited to be eaten with sticky rice or glutinous rice, the major crop of the region.
The curries are challenging to replicate with authenticity elsewhere. Som Tum, a popular raw papaya salad, is so simple yet so hard to perfect with the balance of tamarind juice and palm sugar. Keang Pa Gai is a Thai curry more popularly associated as a jungle food from Isan, where the ingredients are Kaffir Limes, Lemon Grass, Galangal, finger roots (khachai), green pepper corns, veggies and chicken.
SUM TUM KOONG((RAW PAPAYA SALAD WITH PRAWN)
For Lemak rice
Jasmine rice cooked with coconut milk, pandan leaf and ginger.
Mee Laksa Prawns
The writer is a food enthusiast, author of Soul Fried Monolouge and curator of Foodwalkcompany