Thai Cuisine is popular around the world for its rich use of spices and unique flavours. Here’s a list of common spices you will find in popular dishes. Many of them are similar to other spices you may know, but if you don’t use the Thai version in your cooking, your dishes will taste very different (as I found out with basil when I first moved here!)
Thai Parsley (pak chee farang) – Used for tom yam and salad. It looks like very skinny romaine lettuce and has a very strong smell.
Sweet Basil (horapaa) – Similar to the kind used in Italian cooking. Is used in green and red curries. It’s often available on street food stalls.
Holy Basil (kaprao) – Looks similar to regular basil, but the leaves are flat, not curved like sweet basil. It has a slightly licorice smell/taste. They are used in stir-fries and vegetable spring rolls.
Coriander (pak chee) – The seeds are often roasted and used in many curry pastes. Leaves are used to add flavour to salads and soups.
Bird’s Eye Chilies (prik kae noo) – This is the smallest variety of chili and they are very hot!
Galangal (khaa) – This is also known as Siamese Ginger, and in fact, the two plants are closely related. Its roots are longer than ginger. This is used in curry pastes, Tom Yam and Tom Kha.
Lemongrass (ta krai) – A grey/green grass with the most fantastic aroma! You will find this used in soups, curries, teas and as a fragrance.
Keffir Lime (mo krut) – This looks like a Thai lemon but it has a rough knobby skin. The flesh is bitter and contains very little juice. The rind and leaves are used in curry or soup. You’ll often see these limes at spas.
- Best Trip Cooking School in Chiangmai
- The Hua Hin Pages “Herbs & Spices in Thai Cuisine”
- Asian Recipe “Thai Herbs & Spices”