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Guide to Thai Spices

thai_spicesThai 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

Thai Parsley

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.

Basil flowers in the garden

Holy Basil

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

Use sparingly until you’re used to the spice!

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.

lemongrass

Lemongrass

 

keffir

Keffir Lime

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.

Resources:

 

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Gluten Free & Vegan Chana Masala

Indian food is always delicious. Although I have never taken a cooking course, I have dabbled in this culinary tradition. Today I bring to you a cheap and easy dish to make.

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Chana Masala with brown rice and a fresh veggie ‘slaw

It has a little bit of spice to it, mixed with the lime and cilantro at the end, you also get some sour notes. I love this recipe because it is cheap to make and adds in lots of  antioxidants as well as vitamins A, C and K.

Pair it with some brown rice, onion dosa and a salad of some sort. This also makes for great leftovers!

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Soak them ‘peas overnight!

The night before, you’ll want to soak your chickpeas in fresh water for at least 8 hours. Make sure you cook your chickpeas before starting the recipe. Alternatively, you may use canned chickpeas (but they don’t taste as fresh, in my opinion).

You will need:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil or other cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger (or dried ground ginger could work)
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander (I use MasterFoods from Aus)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin (this & all other spices are McCormick)
  • 1 tsp tumeric (you could halve this and use fresh stuff)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garam masala ***
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes or 1 15oz can of tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 4 cups cooked chick peas (or 2 cups dried – but you need to cook in advance)
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 a lime, juiced

*** Here’s a quick spice combination for Garam Masala:

  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cardamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp all spice

Mix together and store in an old spice jar for future need!

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A vegan and gluten free one-pot-wonder!

Ok, so back to the Chana Masala.

Begin by heating the oil in a large sauce pan or thick bottomed pot. Add in the onions and saute until they become translucent (approx 5 mins). Then add in the ginger and garlic and saute for a further 2 mins.

Next, start to add in the spices and make sure they are combined well (cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne, garam masala and tumeric). Then you can add in the chopped tomatoes, chick peas and water.

You want to bring this to a simmer (light boil) for about 8-10 mins. Continue to stir, making sure that the tomatoes and chickpeas don’t stick to the bottom. Once the water has reduced and the tomatoes are looking a bit worse for wear, add in the salt, lime or lemon juice and the fresh coriander. Remove from heat and it’s ready to serve!

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You can add more paprika and cayenne for extra spice!

For the coleslaw, I just added a bunch of veggies I had lying around in my food processor:

  • cabbage – green and purple
  • green onions
  • cauliflower
  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • lime juice
  • chili
  • paprika
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

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Pork Patties with Mango Salsa & Purple Spuds

That is a stunning shade of purple - for a spud

That is a stunning shade of purple – for a spud

Salsa: red onions, tomatoes, ripe mango, lime juice, red chili and coriander. It’s best to prepare this a bit ahead of time, so the flavours can sink in. Just add however much you want, in the proportions you want. This is much better than that canned poop!

Pork patties: salt, pepper, olive oil, gluten free bread crumbs and pork. Mix everything together, but add small amounts of the bread crumbs until the patties stick together and lose some moisture. Then just fry until gold brown.

Purple spuds – potatoes, water, garlic, salt. Boil. (I accidentally bought ‘Japanese potatoes’ thinking they’d be like sweet potatoes. They’re not.) Mash well, season with pepper and add some olive oil or butter.