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A menu to celebrate

EATING OUT Get a flavour of the Thai New Year at the Rim Naam restaurant



SPICY TREATS Designed by Chef Boonsong Keawlawieng, the menu offers foodies a selection of dishes people in Thailand celebrate New Year with Photo: K. Gopinathan

Songkran, the Thai New Year, is celebrated from April 13 to 15. And Rim Naam at the Oberoi is celebrating with a special Thai set menu. Designed by Chef Boonsong Keawlawieng, the menu offers foodies a selection of dishes people in Thailand celebrate New Year with.

The menu, divided into vegetarian and non-vegetarian sections, includes dishes such as koong mangkor (prawns in paneng curry paste) and phad phak kanna (stir fried cauliflower and string beans).

The New Year is one of the biggest festivals in Thailand, says Boonsong. "Songkran festival on April 13 is Maha Songkran Day or the day to mark the end of the old year; April 14 is Wan Nao, which is the day after; and April 15 is Wan Thaloeng Sok when the New Year begins. At this time, people from the rural areas who are working in the city usually return home to celebrate the festival. Thus, when the time comes, Bangkok temporarily turns into a deserted city."

He continues: "We just eat and drink. Thai food and beer or rice wine. There are parties everywhere with drinks on the house. It is also known as the Water Festival as people believe that water will wash away bad luck. Family members gather in order to express their respects to the elders by pouring scented water on the hands of their parents and grandparents. We youngsters pour scented water on each other. Men are not allowed to pour water on women but the other way round is allowed."

Lovely contrast

The meal is the usual starter-soup-main course-dessert routine. The starters such as potato samros (crisp potato ridges stir fried with tangy sauce) and poo cha (crab claws stuffed with chicken mince) provide a lovely contrast to the spicy soups on offer. The soups are prepared in true Thai fashion with lots of tamarind, lime and freshly ground spices.

The main course offers a choice of red and green curries with steamed rice, fried rice and rice noodles. Though the red curries appear fearsome, it is the green ones that are spicier. But the green curries made with coconut milk and chilli paste are the ones to savour. The phad phak kanna and koong mangkor are the ones not to miss. They are excellent with either steamed rice or fried rice. The rice noodles have exotic seasoning, which is best enjoyed when eating them alone.

For dessert there is grilled bananas with honey and vanilla ice cream. The bananas should neither be too ripe nor too raw. They are seasoned with sesame seeds and served on plantain leaf.

The menu is priced at Rs. 1,000 for vegetarian and Rs. 1,400 for non-vegetarian, plus taxes. It does not include drinks, but they can be ordered at extra cost. Lunch is between 12.30 p.m. to 2.30 p.m. and dinner, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. There will be a special candle and flower arrangement on the table and torches will light the ponds around the restaurant in the evenings. Thai cocktails can also be ordered. The fest concludes tomorrow. For reservations, call 25585858.

ANAND SANKAR

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