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Thai national cuisine

12 of June 2009

Geographically Thailand is at the crossroads of Asia so it is hardly surprising that other Eastern cultures have played a role in the development of the national cuisine. The Thais is blessed with a country free of a colonial past so what influences there have been have occurred slowly, naturally and as a matter of choice and have not detracted in any way from the distinctive and unique traditional flavours.

Popularity of Thai food has been phenomental and in high streets throughout the world more and more restaurants, ranging from small family style eateries to large, opulent establishments, have neen opening their doors to introduce this very special spicy-salty-sour-sweet cuisine through such gastronomic delights as Tom Yam Kung (hot and sour prawn soup), Tab Tim Krob (water chestnuts in coconut syrup) and Yam Pla Duk Full (deep fried catfish with mango sauce).

Thai food seems to be that it must be chilli hot. Certainly, there are some dishes eaten with great gusto by the local people wich may well cause unsuspecting first timers to momentarily gasp for air but generally the cooking technique is all about balance; a balance of spices, herbs, roots and leaves, carefully blended to enhance the natural flavours and textures of the main ingredients.

Beside the qualities of pleasing appearance and excellent teste, Thai food is also light and nutritious, as diametrically opposed to junk food as it is possible to be and, as much, is very much a food of the present time; a time when the benefits of a more healthy diet are being universally acknowledged.

Here is how to cook the most famous Thai sour soup:

Tom Yam Kung (Spicy Prawn Soup)tom_yam_kung

Ingredients:
8 fresh king prawn
600 ml chicken stock
2 tomatoes, quartered
200 g oyster mushrooms, sliced
3 kaffir lime leaves, shredde
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped galangal
2 lemon grass stalks, crushed and cut into 3 cm long slices
1 teaspoon stir-fried chilli paste
4 fresh chillies (prik knee noo), finely sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
fish sauce to taste
fresh coriander leaves

Shell and de-vine the prawns, leaving the tails attached.

Bring the stock to a boil and add the tomato, mushrooms, lime leaves, galangal, and lemon grass.. Bring back to the boil, then add the prawns, reduce the heat and cook until the prawns are tender.

Add chilli paste, chilli, lime juice and fish sauce and stir well, then transfer to steamboat with the chimney filled with hot charcoal and garnish with fresh coriander.

Chillies, both fresh and dried, are widely used in Thai cooking. Quantities should be adjusted according to personal teste. Those most frequently used in the following recipes are:prik-chi-fa

  • Prik Khee Noo (small or birds eye)
  • Prick Chi Fa (medium to large)
  • Prik Khee Noo Haeng (small dried)
  • Prik Chi Fa Haeng (medium to large dried)
  • The Thai name (Prik) is the same for red and green chillies.

Coronation Day, May 5

05 of May 2009

Prior to the reign of King Rama IV (King Mongkut), there was no coronation ceremony in Thailand, there was only private ceremony held by high ranking officials to celebrate their Royal Regalia and positions in the 6th lunar month. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej was crowned as Rama IX, the 9th king of the Chakri dynasty, on 5th May 1950. The anniversary of this day has been observed as a public holiday ever since. Coronation was an auspicious occasion but thought that it would be dificult to explain the meaning of the coronation day to his subjects in detail, he thus called this day as a “ceremony to commemorate the Royal Regalia” but was quite similar to that of a coronation. On that day (the 13th of the full moon in the 6th lunar month), following day monks were invited to have meal at the Dusit Maha Prasart Throne Hall in Grand Palace.

coronation-day

During the reign of the present king, the ceremony is performed for three days. The first day falls on 3 May in which the following ceremony will be performed; the king performs a merit-making ceremony at the Audience Hall of Amarindra in dedication to the deceased kings while Buddhist monks chant, give a sermon and perform a requiem on the royal ashes of the deceased kings. On 4 May, the Coronation Ceremonies begin with the proclamation of the Coronation Day read by the Chief of Brahmin priests followed by an evening chanting performed by Buddhist monks. Finally, 5 May is the actual date of the ceremony in which food is to be offered to monks and followed by a celebration of the Royal Regalia. On this day, His Majesty the King also presents the royal decorations to the people who have made a valuable contribution to the country.

The King of Thailand

In the evening the King conducts another sacred ceremony: changing the yellow cloth on the Emerald Buddha, the guardian symbol protecting the Thai people, which was transferred from Thonburi to Wat Phra Kaew by Rama I.

Many rooms in the Royal Palace are opened for public viewing on Coronation Day. Auspicious ceremonies are performed and displays depicting Royal achievements are exhibited to reconfirm the King’s stature.

Songkran: Thailand New Year

07 of April 2009

Songkran or Water Festival is a Thai traditional New Year which starts on April 13 every year and lasts for 3 days. Songkran festival on April 13 is Maha Songkran Day or the day to mark the end of the old year, April 14 is Wan Nao which is the day after and April 15 is “Wan Thaloeng Sok” which the New Year begins.

songkran-thailand

Until 1888 the Thai New Year was the beginning of the year in Thailand; thereafter 1 April was used until 1940. 1 January is now the beginning of the year. The traditional Thai New Year has been a national holiday since then. At this time, people from the rural areas who are working in the city usually return home to celebrate the festival. Usually this period is the hottest time in the year. People all over the country celebrate and relieve the heat by playing water together. Songkran days are also family days for Thai people too. Young people of the family pour water on the hands of revered elders and ask for their blessing. People go to temples and pour water with traditional Thai perfume to the statues of Buddha or the monks and ask for blessing.

Songkran is a Thai word which means “move” or “change place” as it is the day when the sun changes its position in songkran-thailandthe zodiac. It is also known as the “Water Festival” as people believe that water will wash away bad luck. The Songkran tradition is recognized as a valuable custom for the Thai community, society and religions. The value for family is to provide the opportunity for family members to gather in order to express their respects to the elders by pouring scented water onto the hands of their parents and grandparents and to present them gifts including making merits to dedicate the result to their ancestors. The elders in return wish the youngsters good luck and prosperity.

Songkran usually lasts for three days, but might stretch to five or seven, depending on where you are in the country.

Today, Songkran is often referred to as “Water Wars.” With its legendary temple architecture and laid-back pace, not to mention the conveniently water-filled moat that forms a giant square around its Old City, Chiang Mai is known as the holiday is unofficial ground zero. Songkran is celebrated with an enthusiasm bordering on pure pandemonium. Thousands of revelers line up alongside all sides of the moat.

During Songkran, Thais visit monasteries and convene with family and friends. But mostly, it is a time when Thais contemplate renewal, by ritualistically “cleansing” each other with water, naturally of any mistakes or misdeeds they may have caused during the previous 12 months. Playing water on Songkran is not only for relieving the heat, pouring water to each other means a blessing for the coming year.

Nowadays, the emphasis is on fun and water-throwing rather than on the festival””””””””s spiritual and religious aspects, which sometimes prompts complaints from traditionalists. In recent years there have been calls to moderate the festival to lessen the many alcohol-related road accidents as well as injuries attributed to extreme behavior such as water being thrown in the faces of traveling motorcyclists.
songkran on the street
The water is meant as a symbol of washing all of the bad away and is sometimes filled with fragrant herbs.
Songkran is also celebrated in many places with a paegant in which young women demonstrate their beauty and unique talents, as judged by the audience. The level of financial support usually determines the winner, since, to show your support you must purchase necklaces which you place on your chosen girl.

Historically, the throwing of water represented respect: Younger Thais would show reverence by gently songkran-thailandsprinkling water or perfume onto the hands of their elders, who in turn would then sprinkle the town is monks, as well as its beloved Buddha statues. But possibly because April is Thailand is hottest month, and possibly because Thais and Westerners have embraced the tradition as an excuse to go berserk, the holiday is heritage and symbolism now coexist with sheer fun.

Some people make New Year resolutions – to refrain from bad behavior, or to do good things. Songkran is a time for cleaning and renewal. Besides washing household Buddha images, many Thais also take this opportunity to give their home a thorough cleaning

There are Songkran parades in each province all over the country.


Songkran Water Festival in ThailandFor more funny videos, click here

(suk-san wan songkran) – meaning “Happy Songkran Day”

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