Thai food is one of the best-known cuisines in the world, and with good reason. Light yet supremely delicious, the dishes favor creamy coconut milk, soupy bases, vibrant flavors of lemongrass, galangal, and Thai chillies, and generous smatterings of peanuts. Main meals usually consist of soup and a meat or vegetable-based curry with rice or noodles. The Kingdom doesn’t have much of a dessert culture. Here are the 11 must-have foods and drinks in Thailand, categorized by meal types:
Kai Jeow (Thai omelet)
Start your day with a Thai omelet served on a bed of rice and sweet chilli sauce on the side. Order a Kai Jeow Pak if you’d like your omelet with vegetables.
Som Tam (green papaya salad)
This spicy, signature dish from Isaan in North-East Thailand consists of lots of shredded green papaya and other vegetables topped with crunchy peanuts, runner beans, lime juice, and fish sauce.
Tom Yum Goong (spicy shrimp soup)
One of the most popular Thai soups, this one is quite spicy, and resplendent with the fragrance of lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime, and of course, chillies. Usually, mushrooms and prawns are added to the soup.
Tom Kha Gai (chicken and coconut soup)
This one is creamier and less spicy, but as delicious as Tom Yum Goong. It is slightly sweet in taste thanks to the generous addition of coconut milk. You could ask for a chicken-free version if avoiding meat.
Gaeng Keow Wan (green curry)
Although it has a base of sweet coconut milk, Thai green curry is very spicy but also super delicious. Usually, you’ll find eggplant, ginger, and green chillies in your curry. It is served with steamed rice.
Khaeng Phet (red curry)
This mouth-watering curry is made of red curry paste, coconut milk, and tofu or meat such as chicken, beef, or pork. The paste is made from a variety of ingredients including chillies, shrimp paste, and shallots.
Pad Thai (fried noodles)
A definite crowd pleaser, Pad Thai is the ubiquitous fried noodles dish that can be served vegetarian or with an addition of shrimp or chicken. It’s street fare but also served in large restaurants.
Khao Pad (fried rice)
Whatever you order at lunch or dinner, chances are, you’ll get some Khao Pad served on the side. It’s fried rice with eggs and onions, usually served with cucumber slices and Thai condiments.
Goreng Pisang (fried banana)
Easily found on street corners, fried banana fritters take some getting used to. But the combination of sweet, soft, banana with a crusty, fried exterior will quickly grow on you.
Kao Niew Ma Muang (mango with sticky rice and condensed milk)
If you must have dessert, go for Kao Niew Ma Muang, a beautiful dish comprising thick mango slices, sweet sticky rice, and oodles of condensed milk. It’s about as healthy as desserts can get!
You’ll often find refreshing lemongrass coolers being served at events in Thailand. You can easily make your own: all you need is chilled water, lemongrass sprigs, fresh basil, and lime. Sip on this at the end of a spicy Thai meal!