There are a plethora of reasons to visit Thailand – the scenic beauty, breezy weather and so much more! Everything makes you fall in love with Thailand. But the one most exciting thing that most travellers come to Thailand for is finger-licking local Thai dishes.
Often we see western restaurants overdo Thai dishes with the splashes of Japanese and European flavours. Modern Thai cooking with exotic herbs and spices make dishes too complex. That is why there is nothing better than dining at authentic Thai restaurants in Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket. There are some must-try traditional Thai dishes that will offer you the local essences of each region.
Best local Thai platter
1. Massaman Curry: –
It is said that Massaman Curry has its flavour roots in Malaysia and possibly some elements are borrowed from the kitchens of the Thai Royal Court too. Currently Thai Massaman Curry has topped “The World’s 50 Best Foods’ ‘ by CNN Travel. This made-from-scratch beef curry is unique from other Thai curries as the traditional spices like cinnamon, cardamom are not used in this dish. You can enjoy boneless beef and potatoes pan-fried with peanuts, tamarind paste, coconut cream and some flavourful spices. It is a main course dish that has a delightful blend of simple yet delectable flavours. This tropical dish is a perfect partner for your rice meal. Head to ‘Issaya Siamese Club’ or ‘Nahm Restaurant’ in Bangkok for some of the best Massaman curry.
2. Pad Kra Prao: –
Invented during the time of World War II, Pad Kra Prao has become one of the most popular local Thai dishes. When a Thai local is unsure about what to eat, Pad Kra prao or Pad Gaprao is the easiest dish to go to. As this is a common lunch for Thai people, you can get this dish both freshly prepared or premade.Pad Kra Prao is a traditional Thai dish made with stir-fried minced chicken and served with a deep-fried egg.. To make it more aesthetic you can have this jasmine rice seasoned with Thai basil and fish sauce. The melting creamy egg along with the spicy stir-fry will surely win both your heart and stomach.You can have this minced pork and rice a la carte dish from any street side restaurant or food court.
3. Kao Ka Moo: –
If you want to try true Thai street food, Kao Ka Moo is the perfect choice. You can get this almost everywhere in the streets of Thailand. As it is not too spicy, rather has a sweet and sour taste and is a favourite among kids. Served with hot rice, the slow-braised stewed pork leg is one of the most popular Thai dishes in the night market of Thailand. At the street-side stalls you can find Kao Ka Moo being stewed in a big aluminium pot with five-spice powder and soy sauce. After the meat is juicy enough and slides off the bone, it is chopped and served with rice. To enhance the flavour you must try this along with pickled vegetables, bok choi and boiled eggs with creamy yolk. Can there be something more comforting than this?
4. Pla Kapong Neung Manao: –
As Thailand is surrounded by seas and oceans, seafood dishes are quite popular in Thai cuisine. Pla Kapong Neung Manao is an authentic Thai dish, popularly known as ‘steam lime fish’. Some restaurants in Bangkok like Peppery Thai Bistro or Fei ya are quite popular for this dish. The steamed barramundi fish in an aromatic soupy sauce tempered with cilantro, lemongrass, garlic, chillies and lime juice. The marvelously balanced taste of this dish portrays a perfect blend of various flavours of Thai dishes. You can enjoy this outstanding dish paired with jasmine rice.
5. Yam Woon Sen: –
Yam Woon Sen is a classic glass noodle salad dish of Thailand. The glass or cellophane noodles are paired with a tangy sauce to tantalise your taste buds. Glass noodle salad has wonderfully bright flavours with lots of refreshing crunchy vegetables. This dish is a completely healthy meal. For plating, the noodles are stir-fried in a wok along with garlic cloves, scrambled eggs, prawns, vegetables and shallots. Finally, for garnishing, some oyster sauce and chopped coriander are added to the top of the noodles. So don’t forget to add this dish to your wishlist while in Thailand.
6. Thai Green Curry:
Kaeng Khiao Wan is a sweet and savoury Thai green curry served with noodles or rice. This traditional meat or vegetable dish is cooked with green curry paste, creamy coconut milk and some sprinkles of sliced Kaffir lime leaves. You can choose chicken, shrimp, pork, beef or even tofu for the protein source. The brilliant colour makes the dish look ornate and rich, but it is quite palatable. So you can ask for chilies if you want to make it spicy. But if you like spicy dishes you must try this dish once in Thailand.
7. Tom Kha Gai: –
Tom Kha Gai is a rich, creamy and tangy Thai coconut chicken soup. This signature Thai dish is mildly spiced, delicious and rich! It is the blend of coconut cream, fish sauce, galangal root and coriander leaves that make the soup thick. One of the most favourite Thai dishes among tourists, Tom Kha Kai is known for the perfect synchronization of rich and mild flavours. Like most other Thai soups you can pair this delicious chicken soup with steamed rice. Indeed, it is a must-try dish when you are in Bangkok or any other Thai city.
8. Laab: –
Laab or larb is a north-eastern style salad with minced meat along with mint leaves. The minced meat is seasoned with roasted rice powder, lime juice, fresh herbs and fish sauce. You will also find different types of Laab using pork, chicken, duck or mushroom in different Thai restaurants. The meat is cooked along with cabbage, string beans, water spinach and Thai basil. The rich flavours of different spices make this dish more exquisite. This dish is generally eaten as an appetizer combined with papaya salad and sticky rice. You can also have this as a main course along with other north-eastern Thai dishes.
9. Khao Soi:
If you want to try some authentic Thai food, Khao Soi or noodle soup is a good option for you. Originating from Northern Thailand, this is a noodle soup with an amazing mix of flavor and texture. This is traditionally made with hand sliced rice noodles in clear soup broth and topped with minced pork and tomato sauce. If you love rich-hot dishes, this flavoursome Thai broth which is both delicious and nutritious is a must-try. Though it is a famous street food, you can also get this dish from most restaurants in Thailand.
10. Tom Yum:
This has got to be one of Thailand’s most famous soups, either as soup or with noodles as well. Tom yum or tom yam is a type of hot and sour Thai soup, usually cooked with shrimp, with rich flavours of chilly, garlic, lemongrass, lime juice, sesame oil, soy sauce and fresh herbs. The vibrant colours and divine flavours along with healthy ingredients have made this dish a must-try in Thailand. If you want, you can enjoy this dish itself as your main course or can add some flat rice noodles with it.
11. Som Tam: –
Thai cuisine offers you a variety of salads with different flavours and combinations of various food elements – like fruits and veggies combined with seafood. And Som Tam comes from the same history. Som Tam is a typical Thai papaya salad which has the signature flavours of Thai culture. The green papaya and spicy chili pepper dressing will explode in your mouth with sweet, crunchy and tart flavours. This popular Thai salad is both healthy and tasty and globally a favourite. So definitely you should try this at least once while in Thailand. You can find this in any restaurant or street-side food stall in Thailand.
12. Thai Pomelo Salad: –
Yam Som-o or Thai pomelo salad is a mind-blowing fusion of fruits with salty and sour flavours. Pomelo is a citrus fruit, an ancestor of grapefruit. Yam Som-o’ blends the sweetness of pomelo with shredded coconut, roasted peanuts, dried shrimp and a dressing of red chilli and lemongrass. This salad clearly has all the layers of authentic Thai flavours. Though often grapefruits are used instead of pomelo but unlike the western salads this a low calorie yet fantastic dish.
These are a few of the best dishes inThailand that will give you the ultimate food experience and treat you to the local essence of the country. But every region in Thailand has so many more dishes to explore. Whether you like spicy, sweet, light, vegetarian or non-vegetarian dishes, Thailand has everything for you with a significant Thai touch. So foodies bring your appetite to Thailand and try some authentic Thai dishes.
13. Thai Omelette: –
The Thai Omelette, or Khai Jiao, features multiple soft inner layers and crispy edges. This signature Thai-style omelette is served on top of jasmine rice which is served with a curry or some vegetables. Unlike a regular omelette, this is a deep fried one, and really adds that element of crunch to any main course dish. It could be prepared plain, or even with pork, fish sauce, or chicken. At local Thai restaurants, you can ask for a custom preparation and add this delectable omelette to your lunch or dinner!
14. Pad Thai
One cannot speak about Thai food and not mention the world-famous ‘Pad Thai’. It is a stir-fried rice noodle dish commonly served as a street food, typically made with rice noodles, chicken, beef or tofu, peanuts, a scrambled egg, and bean sprouts, among other vegetables. Whether you like it tangy or spicy, or more bold and rich, the flavours of this easy-to-make dish can be altered. At most local stalls, Pad Thai is served spicy, with chunks of steamed seafood and a chilli sauce or paste to accompany it. One serving of this dish is enough to make it a hearty meal! So don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in Thailand’s signature flat noodle dish.
15. Thap Thim Krop
Thapthim krop is one of the best known Thai desserts, having been named one of the world’s best 50 desserts by CNN Travel. It is made of cubes of water chestnuts soaked in grenadine. This dessert is known as “pomegranate seeds” or “rubies” because of its appearance. It is usually eaten with coconut milk and ice cubes. This light and refreshing dessert is the perfect way to finish off a flavoursome full-course Thai meal. The sweetness of the coconut milk, and the crunchiness of the water chestnuts brings the whole dish together. Whether at a local stall or in a fancy restaurant, this dessert is easy to get your hands on in Thailand!
16. Nam Phrik
Even the most bland dishes can be given a new, delicious spin with the Thai Nam Phrik. Nam phrik is a type of Thai spicy chili sauce typical of Thai cuisine. Usual ingredients for nam phrik type sauces are fresh or dry chilies, garlic, shallots, lime juice and often some kind of fish or shrimp paste. It is normally served on small saucers placed by the main dish as a condiment or dip for bland preparations, such as raw or boiled greens, fish, poultry and meats. Depending on the restaurant you go to, the consistency of the sauce might differ. Ask for this sauce when you order your meal, and even a small dollop of it could enhance any dish!
17. Fakthong kaeng buat
Fakthong kaeng buat sounds like a fancy dessert and it is in flavour too; but continues to be an authentic and simple Thai dessert. Rich, creamy and healthy in many ways; fakthong kaeng buat is a dessert made with a unique combination of soft pumpkin and creamy coconut milk. One of the most famous local sweets and known as pumpkin in coconut milk, the dessert has carefully diced stewed pumpkin floating in creamy coconut milk. Simple, yet delicious, some say this iconic dessert first originated in northern Thailand. Most northern Thais are farmers and would grow their own vegetables, thus, their diets include desserts that have vegetables too.