Equipped to entice anyone with its aromatic spell, Thai food happens to hold a special place in my heart, all thanks to how beautifully all the ingredients, which might appear to not go well together, end up in a harmonious symphony of herbs, spices, meats, and vegetables.
Drawing inspiration from China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Burma, France, Portugal and other neighboring countries including India, and yet being totally unique, Thai food is a melting pot that offers fresh, healthy and delicious delicacies, that are hard, if not impossible to resist.
Think about Thai food and your mind would get inundated with images of Som Tam, Tom Kha, Pad Thai, sticky rice with mango and of course, the most reputed, Thai green and Thai red curry. The wide repertoire of dishes from Central Plains, the North, Northeast and the South of Thailand, has boiled down to a handful of favorites that we come across when we decide to eat Thai. There’s so much that’s unexplored, and it was the unexplored dishes, that I got to relish at the residence of the Ambassador of the Royal Thai Embassy in Delhi, a couple of days back.
Hosted by Ambassador Chutintorn Gongsakdi, Ambassador of Thailand to India, the evening sailed to celebrate the cuisine of Thailand, in the best way possible. The fact that the dinner was prepared by the judge of Masterchef Thailand: Chef ML Kwantip Devakula, just elevated the experience, because I knew that we were in the right hands.
Our sojourn in the uncharted culinary lanes of Thailand commenced with Kanom Jeeb. These soft bird-shaped dumplings were stuffed with minced fish and came atop a nest made with fried leaves, which added some crunch. Peek Gai Tod Sauce Sam Rod i.e. the crispy fried chicken wing was tossed in a palatable three chili sauce. Tasted so good that it deserved another round, but given the list of mains that were about to follow, I followed restraint.
“In Thailand, we do not have a system of a course-wise meal. Mostly, everyone has a bowl of rice, and the accompaniments are shared with everyone present at the meal”, said Chef Kwantip. To acquaint us with that ideology, Chef brought together an array of mains, all served and meant to be had together. All dishes were served together as “Sam Rab Thai” or Thai Thali.
The mains, along with the jasmine rice, comprised of Gaeh Pad Prik Thai On, a simple well-done lamb preparation served with young peppercorns, Saengwa Goong, a zingy shrimp dish with a kick of chilli, Choo Chee Ok Ped Rom Kwan, a dish prepared with Thai smoked duck breast, served on a bed of fiery red curry sauce, that was finished with sauteed cherry tomatoes, and my favourite, Gaeng Jued Sam Kasad, a delectable clear soup that was embellished with slices of mushroom along with chicken, shrimp and squid.
One thing admirable about the mains was how each and every dish had a very unique characteristic and could be countered by another dish. Hence, with the play of taste and textures, one could craft the perfect meal for themselves. The art of balancing was certainly well mastered.
Given my infamous sweet tooth, I was eagerly waiting for the dessert to arrive and the moment I had the first bite, I knew it was worth the wait. Som Chun, translating to pungent orange, was a cold dessert that comprised of orange, kiwi, lychee and pomegranate in a refreshing and fragrant syrup. The addition of fried shallots and fresh ginger gave it a savoury twist, making it an unusual yet superlative dessert. Though to conclude our meal on a sweeter note, we were served Gleeb Lamduan and Wun Grob, which were tiny bite-sized cookies and crispy jelly, that I happily relished with a cup of coffee.
Overall, my visit to the Ambassadors residence comprised of good company, amazing food and fine wine. What else could I have asked for?
I’d like to thank everyone (khawp khun) at the Thai Embassy who made and worked towards making it an eventful evening, that, for me turned out to be an experience, one, which I’d certainly not forget anytime soon.