Foreign recipes in Thai Cuisine

By - herve
17.10.20 01:56 AM

How Thai people transformed them into dishes uniquely their own

18th October 2020

Thailand Cuisine is world-renowned for its bold and bright flavors, attention to detail, and heavy reliance on medicinal ingredients. The country’s cuisine is revered as one of the Thailand’s most valuable treasures and the proof, is in the Thai pudding, so to speak. However, Thailand is an ancient civilization dating back over 2000 years, the country has had some help over many centuries, from nations far and neighbors near, in establishing itself as a food favorite.

Thai food received influence from foreign culture

With a history so vast and rich, it would be difficult to address all foreign countries influences on Traditional Thai cuisine however there are some countries that have influenced the very fabric of Thai cuisine and we will mention these below.

Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia

Thai Spring Rolls
Spring Roll is know as "Poh Pia" in Thailand

All five of Thailand’s neighboring countries, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia have contributed a great deal of influence over the local cuisine Thai cuisine. 

Well known Thai dishes such as spring rolls, laab and som tam have a shared history with their Asian counterparts. 

Thai Satay
Incredibly flavourful Thai satay peanut sauce

To the north, Burmese and Laotian ingredients and cooking methods became widespread giving way to dishes like Thai Favorites such as sai ua (pork sausage). 

At the southern end of Thailand, the same can be observed with Malay-inspired dishes like Satay (grilled meat) and the prevalent use of coconut milk and ground turmeric.


Pad Thai
Most food historians credit the Chinese with the invention of noodles

Many dishes were introduced by Chinese people during the 15th and the 18th century and many of the Thai cooking methods have been adopted from the Chinese kitchen utensils, such as the wok, as well as the technique of phat or stir- fry.

In 1644, a large number of Hokkien Chinese established themselves in Ayutthaya and the Hokkien noodles was introduced into Thai kitchens. 

Dishes such as khanom chip (Chinese dumpling), salapao (steamed buns), fried rice-noodles, and many more, are all Chinese dishes that now are part of Thai cuisine.


Thai red curry paste
Cooking of curry probably originated in India

An ancient city as that grew together with Siam over 2000 years ago. Indian influence is clearly visible in the famous spiced Thai curries, some of Thailand’s most popular dishes are curries and Indian ingredients would eventually give rise to iconic dishes such as kaeng kari (yellow curry).

Portugal and the Americas

Farang as a stone guard at Wat Pho in Bangkok

In the 17th century the Portuguese traders introduced dishes such as fios de ovos, a dessert made with eggs, is now known in Thailand as foi thong foi thong, a golden, angel-hair-like dessert that is made with eggs, coconut milk, and syrup.

Surprisingly a product found to be in many of, if not all of Thailand’s favorite dishes, the chilli, was brought to the region from North and South America by European ships.

Thai Chilies
Chili didn't exist in Thailand until they were brought over by Portuguese traders


Massaman curry kit
Indo-Persians on a mural inside Wat Ko Kaeo Suttharam, Phetchaburi

The seventeenth- century saw a strong Ayutthaya-Persia trade network. 

In the 1800’s King Rama wrote a poem about his love for Massaman curry. 

Mentioned and admired for its aromatic cumin flavor, a noble family of Persian descent, introduced the use of foreign spices to Thai cuisine. Khao buri or buri rice, a culinary form of rice-based dish deriving from the city of Kabul and influenced by the Persian ‘Briyani’- a dish of roasted rice mixed with herbs famously consumed across the Malay World made its way to Thailand with their variation, using butter, milk, clove, coriander, cardamom, and peppercorn.

Thai Chilies
In 2017 Thailand had the more national dishes (including Massaman) than any other country chosen, in the CNN Travel - ‘World’s 50 Best Foods’ poll.
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