Tag Archives: Abu Dhabi Diary

Simplifying Thai Cuisine at Royal Orchid, Abu Dhabi – Workshop on Phat Kaphrao – Stir fried holy Basil Leaves (Video)

Phat Kaphrao or Pad Kaprao is also known as Phat Krapow or Pad Kra Pao. Holy Basil is called Kaphrao or Krapow in Thai Language. It is different from the normal Basil.

The differences lie in several areas with the key area being flavor. Thai basil is known primarily for being sweet. It has a strong licorice and anise note that allows it to stand out in Thai curries and soups. The anise note is so strong and so sweet that you can eat Thai basil raw.

Holy basil brings another flavor profile to the table in that it is intensely spicy, so much so that it is sometimes referred to as hot basil. When consumed raw, holy basil has a slight numbing effect on the tongue that is similar to the effect of Szechuan pepper. The flavor is more like a combination of black pepper and clove than like the sweeter notes of Thai basil. It tends to get even spicier as it is cooked.

https://www.spiceography.com/thai-basil-vs-holy-basil/

As a stir fried dish, Phat Kaphrao can be made primarily with chicken, prawns or meat of choice. It can be a vegetarian stir fry with vegetables, with the omission of both fish and oyster sauce. Just make it with light soya and dark soya sauce. The fresh combination of ingredients would make the vegetarian dish deliver its flavour.

Let’s plunge straight into making Phat Kaphrao.

Ingredients

  • cooking oil
  • spicy red chillies
  • garlic
  • long beans
  • holy basil leaves
  • vegetable stock
  • fish sauce
  • oyster sauce
  • light soya sauce
  • dark soya sauce
  • chicken powder (optional)
  • salt

Note: the spice level demonstrated here is on the higher side. Please adjust chillies as preferred.

Making of Stir-fried Holy Basil

Chef Vitug demonstrated the stir fry with prawns .

Next, the special dessert is on its way!!

Royal Orchid – Striking Strong Flavours with Finesse! Workshop on Thai Green Papaya Salad – 3 ways (VIDEO)

Food Industry is huge, with a capital H. To sustain in a society of varied culinary interests, plus to sail across the ever rising wave of competition is a volcanic task. The hard work and struggle to bring up a restaurant and also, remain popular in the food industry, for several years is certainly a huge victory.

The Royal Orchid Group of Restaurants, is a Hugely successful Chain of Restaurants in Abu Dhabi. After coming to Abu Dhabi, I have seen the flavours of the restaurants under the group, spread aroma in several of the social occasions. 

We have been mesmerised by the enthusiasm and zeal of the Founder and Owner of the Royal Orchid Group, the Septogenarian Mr. Vinay Varma and his Dynamic Lady Mrs. Nira Varma.

So, when the Captain of the Chain Mr. Varma, accepted my request for a learning session of some of their speciality foods, I was elated. When he left it to me, to choose from any of their restaurants, my greed to make the best use of the opportunity knew no limits.

Below are the speciality restaurants under the big roof of Royal Orchid Group.

https://www.theroyalorchidgroup.com

I chose, one of my favourites- Thai. A very big Thanks to their open-mindedness..


Thai cuisine might be one amongst the most popular cuisines around the world, next only to anybody’s own native food. The freshness of ingredients and aromatic flavours of the spices, would rule your palate for several hours.

Having lived in Cambodia, we have been fortunate to have savoured several dishes of South East Asian cuisine. As a blogger, I have certainly been lucky to have learnt a few distinctive dishes and sweets of Cambodia.. like-

  1. Num Plae Ai – Sticky Rice Sweet Balls
  2. Num Ansom Chek – Banana filled Steamed Rice Cake
  3. Trey Chamhoi – Cambodian Steamed Fish
  4. Num Kom – Sticky Rice Cakes with coconut filling

Neighbourhood Thailand, it’s history and flavourful food are always a big thumps up for me. I wrote three travel posts on Bangkok- its historical places and food, way back in August 2013 (The Charming Capital of Thailand). When I read that post now, I see that I’ve written about tasting Brown Rice, Crispy Fried Mushroom and Spicy Vegetable Curry/ Yellow Rice, Chicken in Spicy Curry and not to miss the desserts – Sticky Rice and Mango and Coconut Ice cream.

So, here I am, in Abu Dhabi, ready to learn a few more Thai dishes. Life has been very kind to me…isn’t it?

Royal Orchid is a Chinese and Thai restaurant, which has the logo- Inspired by the Far East. That truly suits me too! With elegant interiors and comfortable seating arrangements, it boasts of authentic Chinese and Thai flavours – straight from wok to your plates.

I requested for a workshop/demonstration on a full course Thai Meal with- a salad, a soup, a curry, a stir fry and a dessert, which I chose from few of my favourite dishes.

Chef Vituk of Royal Orchid, who hails from Thailand, was a very patient, grounded personality. After meeting a few chefs recently, I think, patience is a virtue of Chefs. And, they are more than that. They are specialists in the art of combining traditional and contemporary flavours that surprises customers. They present the simplest of dishes in exceptional ways that enthrals food connnaisseurs. Above all, they are blessed with the culinary art that embraces our appetite.

Let me share the dishes I learnt one by one.


I. Thai Green Papaya Salad – three ways

  1. Som Tum Kai Kem – Green Papaya Salad with Salted Eggs
  2. Som Tum Sua – Green Papaya Salad with Rice Noodles
  3. Som Tum Phoo Plara – Green Papaya Salad with Salted Crab

I have also uploaded videos that show the making of Thai Green Papaya salad, demonstrated by Chef.

The Quintessentials

mortar and pestle

green papaya

and the grating technique

The basic ingredients for the different versions of papaya salad, remain pretty much the same. Slight differences in the choice of sauces and spice level make the variations taste better.

Ingredients

  • garlic pods
  • long red chillies
  • green papaya
  • carrots
  • corn
  • long bean
  • cherry tomatoes

seasoning

  • fish sauce
  • salad dressing
  • lemon juice
  • tamarind juice
  • palm sugar
  • coconut sugar

Note:

  1. Normally, fish sauce is added. But here, if one wishes to prepare a vegetarian papaya salad, omit the eggs and fish sauce. Instead use a salad dressing, which might be a combination of light soya sauce and palm sugar.
  2. The spice level of this salad is on the higher side. I would suggest reducing the garlic and chillies, if one prefers a medium spiced salad.

Getting ready

The art of grating papaya for the salad

Keep the grated papaya in ice cold water, for at least 10 minutes. This helps keeping the vegetable crunchy.

1. SOM TUM KAI KEM – GREEN PAPAYA SALAD WITH SALTED EGGS

making of the salad

2. SOM TUM SUA – GREEN PAPAYA SALAD WITH RICE NOODLES

making of the salad

3. SOM TUM PHOO PLARA – GREEN PAPAYA SALAD WITH SALTED CRAB

making of the salad

Thanks Chef. That was an amazing experience. But, plenty more to come. Come along with me..

Hand Crafted Poetry!

What a way to start my UAE Diary!! After Holland and Cambodia, it is time to start a new adventure in a new country. What more can I expect, than an artistic push to kick start my Diary in the UAE..

Recently, Ms. Mani Suri, esteemed spouse of the Ambassador of India to the UAE, H.E. Navdeep Singh Suri, displayed her unique pottery creations. Ms. Suri’s 12 year passion, saw the perfect limelight in the midst of the Arabian sands, visible through the glasses of the 90th floor exhibition hall, in Burj Mohammed bin Rashid Tower, near the World Trade Centre,  Abu Dhabi.

She is a professional herself, working as the Design Head of a Production Company in Jaipur. She holds a Masters Degree in Economics from the Guru Nanak University in Amritsar, Punjab and additionally a degree in Communication Design from the USA.

A creation is always a mirror of the artist’s mind. In many cases, it represents the personality of the  creator. The exhibition named – ‘Down to Earth – Mani’s Vibrant Creations in Clay’ showcased the simple person that Ms. Mani Suri is, and yet a vibrant social personality, her friends know her to be.  

Earthy Hues- so close to Mother Earth

I regard handcrafted creations of any medium- be it fabric, metal, rock or clay, as highest forms of artistic creativity.   This one exhibition,  the medium being clay, transferred the connoisseur to an arena, so close to Mother Earth, far away from the mechanical world,  thereby showcasing the artist’s truest appreciation of life.

mother

While ‘Mother’ stimulates nostalgia, ‘Desert Safari’ and ‘Palm Tree’ show the Arabian Charm;

‘Soulmates’ and ‘Lotus’ are synonymous to perfect; if these are perfect, what do we say about the ‘pomegranate’ -flawless? If pomegranates are flawless, the other pomegranate – ‘Anar ka Dhana’ with tiny seeds intact is a stunning thing to watch.

desert safari


palm tree

soulmates

pomegranates


anar ka dhana – seeds intact

All creators are narrators too. This one narrates her flaws too.  The crack in the pot and her perseverance in putting it back to a better shape is inspiring. Optimism has brought out one of the most beautiful pieces in the collection.

optimism at its best!

The colours are striking like those in the ‘Rainbow Ride’ or the ‘Sunshine’.  ‘Cheer Up’ truly cheers you up with its vibrance.   It’s surely an apt name-  ‘the vibrant collections’.

rainbow ride


sunshine


cheer up

Pottery or Poetry?

Ms. Mani was introduced to clay in South Africa, and since then clay from different parts of the world, has been an integral part of her life, hopping off and on different destinations, with her Diplomat husband. She continued her game with clay in Egypt and Australia subsequently.

The products displayed had different creative techniques – rustic, metallic, glazed or the sheeny finish and what not. The artist has gloriously played with clay and her imagination.

One of my favourites is ‘by the beach’.  The relaxed mood that the artist transfers to the onlooker is the success of such pieces of art. The happy mood that ‘let’s go, party’ throws on you is not to be missed.

by the beach

let’s go, party

The ‘Mother Hen’ and the ‘ugly ducklings’ are given such befitting names. 

ugly ducklings and mother hen

The work of pottery is nothing less than poetry in clay. But the names given to the pieces shows Ms. Mani’s interest in playing with words too. interesting and a few definitely fascinating…like the ‘hat trick’, ‘peekaboo’ or  ‘Copernicus’.

hat trick


peek a boo

coppernicus

 

When asked which piece of art she considers her master piece till date, Ms. Suri says – “I can’t name one, all are my children”.

Life can be driven by several forces. But, to lead one that is driven by Passion, is certainly an accomplishment in itself. ‘Down to Earth’ portrays this positive celebration of Life- symbolising Ms. Suri – the artist and creator.