Royal Thai Cuisine

By - herve
08.10.20 05:17 AM

All you need to know about it !

13rd October 2020

The term “Royal Thai Cuisine” has been used by the upper echelons of Thai Dining to describe the culinary delights adorning numerous Thai restaurants menu. 

Now, it is safe to say that most of these restaurants may be stretching the truth. 

Although most would agree, that all Thai food is delicious, the term ‘Royal Thai Cuisine” is rather a bold statement and suggests that the Thai delights on offer at the establishment, would be somewhat superior to the “common” Thai food.

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But... What is the difference between common Thai food and Royal Thai cuisine? 

What makes it SO Royal?? Can you ever experience the exquisite tastes for yourselves, apart from the almost impossible invited to a royal Thai banquet? So many questions, that we will answer below, as we share with you the beautiful and delicate traditions of Royal Thai Cuisine. 

What is Royal Thai Cuisine?

The Ayutthaya Kingdom was a Siamese kingdom that existed from 1350 to 1767

Royal Thai Cuisine - Ahan Chao-Wang meaning the “food of the people in the palace”, traces its history back to the palace cuisine of the Ayutthaya kingdom, a period of Thai history that existed between 1351 and 1767. The Royal style of Thai cuisine was reserved only for royalty and visiting dignitaries, the recipes were precise and time consuming, ingredients used to make them were expensive and often an entire team of chefs were involved to create one dish. Vast palace kitchens manned by massive brigades were led by chefs from countries far afield, who’s recipes and traditions still adorn Thai restaurant tables today.

These same ancient traditions are still followed, very high standards are still upheld, impeccable presentation is essential, dishes are set in courses and the manner in which the food is designed to be eaten, is also taken into account. With many dishes presented as small bites to ensure elegant eating, adorned with exotic fruits and vegetables, carved with intricate designs adding another elevated detail to the experience. Typically served on a small table where guests sit on the floor to dine. 

Ladies of the Bunnag Lineage preparing food at the Dusit palace c1898

How Does Thai Royal Cuisine Food Taste?

Royal Thai Cuisine is known for its mild taste, lavish presentation and combination of different rare and expensive ingredients. Only the best and freshest ingredients will do and everything that is presented must be edible.

There must be no hard objects in the dish, all dishes must have bones, pits and stones removed. The primary flavours are sweet and salty, the emphasis being on creating a balanced food, without taste extremes or strong smells, designed to be easy to eat and to prevent bowel problems. 

Colours also play a significant role in how the dishes are arranged, as there needs to be a balanced combination between red, yellow, white, green, black, and brown. It was believed that these colours corresponded to specific organs and some elements of health and wellbeing. For example, red was associated with the heart, yellow with the bladder, white with bile. The attention to details placed on a perfect appearance means that ingredients such as baby Thai eggplant for example must all be the same size in one dish or be considered sub-par and rejected.

What are Thai Royal Cuisine dishes?

Thailand was a major trading destination during the Ayutthaya court period which allowed the Palace to form a vast array of close alliances and influences: The Western influence during the 1600s and 1700s, Persian and Arabic flavors via Muslim traders in the seventeenth century, chefs of Japanese-Portuguese-Bengali heritage, Portuguese missionaries and Dutch traders as well as the influences of close neighbors Malaysia, Burma, Indonesia, India, and China all played their part in creating the exquisite creations presented to the Royal Court and World dignitaries guests. Customary edible decorations and embellishments to dishes include the use of natural blossoms and herbs to infuse the water used in cooking dumplings, rice or desserts for added colour.

Due to now-rare ingredients, complex preparation, and precision required in cooking, it is difficult to find true Royal Thai Cuisine dishes in most restaurants today, however the most renowned and legendary Royal Thai Cuisines are listed below:

Khao Chae

A rice soaked in cool jasmine scented water.

Miang Kham

A leaf-wrapped appetizer.

Chor Muang

Steamed dumpling with chicken and peanut.

Ka Pi Kua

Toasted shrimp paste dip.

Chan Chue Budsaba 

An edible flower.

Kanom pung sang ka ya bai toey

Thai custard bread and vanilla ice-cream.

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