BENGALURU: Many think that Thai cuisine is mostly coconut milk and rice, but there’s more with fish and eggs and lots of bananas. Explore the sweet and spicy cuisine at Southern Thai Food Festival at Benjarong, Ulsoor.
We are first served a platter of lettuce with jaggery syrup, peanuts, onion, ginger, bird eye chill, and roasted coconut. Try a spread of jaggery syrup on lettuce leaf, add the other ingredients, fold the leaf and pop it into your mouth whole like you would have paan. It has a blend of flavours and textures – bitterness of fresh lettuce, sweetness of jaggery and crunchiness of nuts.
The Gaeng Som Cha Om Talay is a traditional spicy soup with spinach leaves. The vegetarian soup is thick with carrots, zucchini, babycorn and mushroom; the non-vegetarian soup has a paneer look-alike omlette cubes and prawns.
Surprises come in small leafy pockets here. The Pla Hor Baitaey has seer fish wrapped in pandanus leaves and deep fried. The marinated fish is delicate and the leaf gives out a basmati aroma. The Saai Bua Reau Ped Tod Phuket is served with lotus stem in Phuket style. It is a good dish with subtle sweet flavours from marination. Usually the spinach is bitter but the ones in Phak Bung Tod tastes like it has been fried in sugar syrup. The Gai Kolae is a spicy red chilli marinated chicken skewers. Cooked to perfect brown, they are served with homemade red chilli and sweet and sour chilli sauce. It is amazing how a prawn has been coated with minced chicken in Goong Tod Gai. The dumpling is deep fried with crumbs.
Yum Pla Dook Foo is a combination of raw mango and fried fish. Served with prawns papad, it has steamed, minced and deep fried cat fish topped with raw mango salad and cashew nuts, adding a tinge of sweetness. For main course, there’s Pad See Ew, flat noodles with generous amount of veggies such as carrots and bell peppers. The fried rice Khao Pahd Sri Racha is spicy. Wrapped in lotus leaf, the rice is steamed and served hot with rich aroma.
The desserts are all made using banana. The chef tells us that in Southern Thailand, banana is used in desserts. The Sakoo Piak Maprow On is sweetened sago (sabudana) served with tender coconut flakes and cubed cantaloupes (musk melon). It tastes like custard that leaves creamy and pleasant flavours. The Kluay Buat Chee has a caramel like sweetness from palm sugar syrup in which the bananas have been cooked. The Khanom Kluay is banana cake, moist and sweet, it tastes prominently of banana.
The festival is on till October 1.
Price for two: `2,000