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STIR your tastebuds


IT WAS a tame touristy Thai trip. Not once did the itinerary change. The venue was Lotus, the Thai restaurant at The Park and the occasion, the Stir Fry Fortnight.

My heart went out to the charming chef, Sommai Aksorndee, after biting into the Dragon wings stir-fried. The chicken wings were soft and luscious, but there wasn't much `Thai' to it. The chef himself admitted that he had been asked to keep the local palate in mind while cooking.

Prawns with garlic, coriander and vegetable dumplings went the same way — excellent taste but weak roots. Yes, we love Chinese, but does the Thai fare have to taste like Chinese?

The concept of stir-fry itself is borrowed. Traditional Thai cooking methods involved stewing and baking or grilling. Chinese influences brought in stir and deep-frying. "Then again, an argument as to what is authentic is no good if the food does not suit the palate of the diner," says Thai culinary expert and the Julia Childs award winner, Kasma Loha-unchit.

Thai food is all about harmony of tastes and textures. The basic flavours — salty, sweet, sour, bitter and pungent — are combined judiciously to bring out the spirit of the cuisine.

The prawn and squid stir fry with basil and makrud leaves definitely had some Thai soul in it.

Take a bite and flavours spring to life in your mouth till you are high on them. The other dish that made a mark was the dessert, Black sticky rice with coconut sauce and fresh fruits.

The menu has two sections; the first allows the diners to choose the vegetable, meat or seafood and select the condiments, herbs and sauces. Once the choosing is done, the chef takes over.

In the second group, the combinations are pre-set. A little more leeway and Chef Sommai can show us what goes into the making of Thai cuisine.

MARIEN MATHEW

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