Of a tang & a zing

From Thailand comes a cuisine that rides high on fresh produce, authentic ingredients and wholesome flavours, writes Aparna Shivapura

Thai chefs Teerachai Rijiravanich and Pachara Kum Supoj

A cultural sojourn and an exotic culinary treatise awaited people at Hilton Bangalore Embassy GolfLinks as they hosted the best of Thailand at Ministry of Food recently. The Thai Food Festival brought to Bengalureans a feast packed with special flavours, authentic ingredients and a tantalising menu specially put together by legendary Thai chefs — Teerachai Rijiravanich and Pachara Kum Supoj from Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok.

The Thai Food Festival brought alive the local flavours and cuisines from the streets of Thailand. The spread included tom yum goong, som tum, the hugely popular Thai green and red curry, pad Thai, and more. The desserts offered sticky mango rice, steamed custard in pumpkin, banana in coconut milk...

Chef Teerachai said, “Thai cuisine is amongst the healthiest cuisines in the world. In addition to being healthy, it also has a great tradition with generations of cooking culture, and secrets engrained into it. And that is what we brought to the festival this year at Hilton.” Some of the ingredients used have tremendous health benefits. For instance, ginger-based dishes kill gastritis.

Chef Teerachai has over 10 years of experience in Thai food, his USP being his extensive and in-depth knowledge of the traditional secrets of the cuisine. Chef Pachara has over 15 years of experience and his expertise involves ensuring that they retain the distinguishing flavours, unique recipes and cooking styles without any dilution. 

The chefs said that the originality of the cuisine lies in using fresh and local ingredients, organic herbs found locally, and making the curry paste fresh every time they make a dish! Like in traditional cultures globally, Thai dishes are elaborate, require time, attention to detail, and the usage of authentic ingredients in the right proportion to bring out the flavour! “The final presentation and setting of the food can be innovative and contemporary, but there should be absolutely no compromise on the method of preparation and the use of traditional ingredients,” echo the chefs.

When asked what they would take back from Bengaluru, the chefs said, “We have learnt the art of making dosas and have started making them also. We will surely go back and experiment on the same!”

RECIPE

Deep fried prawns in tamarind sauce

Deep-fried prawns with tamarind sauce
Deep-fried prawns with tamarind sauce

Tamarind is a sour, tangy fruit common to Thailand and other Asian countries. It’s important to Thai cuisine as it balances sweetness, heat and saltiness. Tamarind pulp and paste are readily available in Asian markets and many larger supermarkets as well. This dish calls for jumbo shrimp that are deep fried for a few minutes without any breading or batter. Big shrimp hold up nicely in an oil bath and develop a wonderful colour and crispy exterior. Also, fried garlic is a common Thai garnish that’s so delicious that you might just end up putting it on your cereal in the morning!

Ingredients: Tamarind sauce: 3 tbsp tamarind paste, 3 tbsp palm sugar (chopped, pounded in a mortar and pestle, or finely grated) or granulated sugar, 5 red and green bird’s eye chillies,seeds removed, finely chopped, 1&1/2 tsp Sriracha or other hot sauce, deep-fried golden onion, 1&1/2 tsp fish sauce, 1 tsp oyster sauce, 2 tbsp water.

Shrimp: Vegetable oil for deep-frying about 3 cups, 12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined, 2 tbsp deep-fried garlic, 10 dried red chilies, crushed, green coriander.

Method:

For the tamarind sauce, combine all of the ingredients together in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, over medium heat, for 3 to 4 minutes or until the mixture starts to become sticky. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Line a large plate with paper towels. In a wok or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil for deep-frying to 177OC. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels.

Deep-fry the shrimp for 2 to 3 minutes, or until cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Reheat the tamarind sauce, then add the shrimp and mix well. Serve garnished with fried garlic and dried chillies.

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