Tag Archives: thai cuisine

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.


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.


  • 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!!


Simplifying Thai Cuisine at Royal Orchid, Abu Dhabi – Workshop on Thai Green, Yellow and Red Curry (Video)

Having enjoyed the tangy Salad and the refreshing Soup, it was time to plunge into three of the most favoured curries of Thai Cuisine- Green, Yellow and Red Curry.

Chef showed the difference in the curry pastes, while making the three flavourful, yet distinct curries.

The basic herbs and spices that are blended to make the three curry pastes are – garlic, shallots, galangal, shrimp paste, kaffir lime rind, coriander root, cumin seeds, lemongrass, salt, white peppercorns. 

There is one specific ingredient that is added to the explicit curries, to make it the colour of choice.

Green curry – Pandan Leaf extract, which gives the green colour to the curry. Not red chillies, but green chillies are added.

Red Curry – Dried Long Red chillies give the red colour.

Yellow Curry – Red chillies are added for spice; freshly ground turmeric is the key ingredient for the yellow curry.

NOTE: Since most of the bottled curry pastes available in the market, would have shrimp paste added to it, please check the ingredients before purchasing. If one needs a vegetarian curry paste, ask for it. There are a few brands that make vegetarian Thai green/yellow and red curry pastes.

Flexibility to combine with vegetables, meat or sea food

Whether one desires a curry with vegetables, or has an appetite for non-vegetarian stuff – feel free to experiment. The aromatic blend of spices goes well with vegetables, meats, fish and prawns alike. The extravagant taste comes from the final amalgamation of rich and creamy coconut milk with the spice paste.

These are a few common combinations-

Green Curry with vegetables

Red Curry with Chicken and Eggplant

Yellow curry with chicken and potatoes

The video shot was that of Thai Green Curry. In order to show the colourful variation the paste makes, when mixed with coconut milk, I share these photos…

Red Curry

Yellow curry

Making of Thai Green Curry – VIDEO

That truly simplified cooking Thai curries. Didn’t that!!

Simplifying Thai Cuisine at Royal Orchid, Abu Dhabi – Workshop on Tom Yam Soup ! (Video)

The next on my learning list was a soup, after salad. Tom Yam is a much sort after Soup. Packed with citrusy punch and flavours of Thai herbs, it is a refreshing soup usually made with shrimps. But, Tom Yam can change roles and still be appealing to your palate-

a) Cook as a vegetable soup with shallots, tofu and mushrooms (avoiding fish sauce);

b) try other combinations like – chicken, lamb, or meat of your choice;

or c) make it a meal, with noodles in the soup.

These are the basic spices and other ingredients for preparing Tom Yam Soup- (except the pandan leaves in the end – reserved for our dessert later)

  • Lemongrass
  • kaffir lime leaves
  • galangal
  • red chillies
  • thai parsley
  • lemon

For the proteins-

  • prawns
  • mushrooms

and for garnish –

  • thai parsley
  • coriander

for the special Thai flavour

  • lemon juice
  • fish sauce
  • tom yam paste
  • coconut milk

and chicken powder, which is optional

Tom Yam Goong/Thai Tom Yam Soup with Prawns

Getting things ready for Tom Yam

Making the soup

Making Tom Yam

  1. Boil stock (of your choice)
  2. Add cut lemon grass, kaffir lime leaf, galangal and red chillies
  3. While the stock boils well, add prawns and straw mushrooms
  4. Season with lemon juice, fish sauce and tom yam paste and let the prawns and mushrooms cook well
  5. Once done, add coconut milk and chicken powder (if preferred)
  6. The soup is done. Add chopped parsley and switch off stove
  7. Serve hot garnished with chopped coriander leaves.

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.


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.


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


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


  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.


making of the salad


making of the salad


making of the salad

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

The Charming Capital of Thailand!


Stunning view  At night – Wat Arun – Temple of Dawn, Bangkok



When two months of holidays were almost going to be over, a sudden plan of visiting Malaysia and Singapore came up. As soon as we returned from KL and Singapore, there rose an oppurtunity for a quick visit to Bangkok!

The beauty, culture and spirit of South East Asia  – each country different and unique by its own, yet similar! Culture, Religion, Behaviour, Lifestyle, Traditions – beyond the marked differences there is still a thin line indicating the centuries of give and take.

While KL and Singapore experiences would follow later, the beauty of Bangkok that lies very fresh in my mind makes me write about it first. So, the very recent ones first.

Bangkok seemed to be a mixture of traditional and modern things in the same shell. I think this fusion is something that makes Bangkok the most visited place in the world.


Bangkok, Thailand will be the number one destination for tourists in 2013, according to MasterCard’s new Global Destination Cities Index.

It beat out major destinations like London, Paris, New York, and Dubai with an anticipated 15.98 million international arrivals in 2013. http://www.businessinsider.com/most-popular-tourist-destinations-2013


For the religious and heritage lovers – huge Buddhist temples; for the fashion and shopping lovers – the small, medium to big malls; for the cullinary lovers – street food, food courts in malls, restaurants offering different cuisines of the world to chose from and speciality THAI restaurants for those with heavier pockets; for relaxing the global community – the innumerable massage centres to classy Spas; for true tourists who believe in nights by the water – river cruises and dinner cruises, Bangkok has so much to offer!

Leaving aside the traffic jams and busy roads, the Metropolitan Rapid Transit or MRT is a very comfortable transport system, called the Underground Train. It is called the BTS or sky train.

Under the Metro Rail System, the Airport Rail Link is a very comfortable service which is available from the Airport itself. This is a great boon for tourists, for the first timers not knowing the routes and the used passengers alike.

Of our favourite topic Food – as mentioned earlier, the food courts in malls offer food at very reasonable rates. A platter which is a whole filling meal, with the spicy taste of Thai Cuisine – which has the touch of Chinese and Indian cuisines.  Forget about the very popular Thai Red and Green Curries, there is an entire variety like –


Brown Rice, Crispy Fried Mushroom and Spicy Vegetable Curry



Yellow Rice, Chicken in Spicy Curry (served without the curry for my daughter) and a clear soup



I had this dessert in mind – and I wanted to taste it after seeing it as one of the best foods to be tasted in Thailand – It is called Khao Neeo Mamuang in Thai language or the Mango Sticky Rice. It is cooked rice sweetened with a sauce of coconut milk, sugar and salt; served with sliced mango  and garnished with the coconut milk sweet sauce and roasted sesame seeds! We got it served cold. This is certainly a refreshing dessert – that gives a soothening effect to the tummy after all those spicy Thai Curries!




and the beautifully presented Coconut Icecream! There can be many versions to this- different in the way is served.  Ice Cream made with Coconut milk is scooped in coconut shells with scrapped tender coconut pieces. One of the versions –



Another version – served at street corners comes in the next post!

Now, let’s talk about the enchanting places we visited!

The first day, we planned to see Wat Pho and Wat Arun. The word Wat in general denotes a place of worship, here denoting Monastery Temples.


In everyday language in Thailand, a wat is any place of worship except a mosque (Thai สุเหร่า – su-rao; or มัสยิด – Thai rendering of masjid; a mosque may also be described as โบสถ์ของอิสลาม – bot khong Is-a-lam). Thus wat cheen is a Chinese temple (either Buddhist or Taoist), wat khaek is a Hindu temple, and wat kris or wat krit or wat farang is a Christian church, though Thai โบสถ์ (โบด bot) may be used descriptively as with mosque. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat


Wat Pho – The Temple of Reclining Buddha


Wat Pho is the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok.  The first temple was built in the 16th Century and consecutive renevations and additions have been done by successive kings.

Inside the temple complex lieds the biggest Buddha in reclining position in Thailand. This statue is 46 metres long, with the dimensions at the face of 15 metres high and at each foot of 3 metres high and 5 metres long.


The soles of the statue’s feet are inlaid with mother-of-pearl showing the 108 auspicious signs of the Buddha. This is the largest and most beautiful piece of fine arts of the Buddha image in a reclining position found in Thailand.

The mother of pearl inlay at the feet of the image is of Thai-Chinese style, as indicated by 108 auspicious signs portraying natural scenes of both Indian and Chinese influences. http://www.watpho.com/en/data/buddha.php



Inside Wat Pho runs the Thai Traditional Medical School where Courses on traditional Thai Massage are conducted.


Being the base of Thai Medicine, Wat Po Thai Traditional Medical and Massage School was opened in 1955 inside Wat Po. It is the first Thai Medical School under the approval of Thai Ministry of Education. http://www.watpomassage.com/2009/index.php?page=about&lang=en&title=About Us


The second important building inside the temple is the Phra Uposatha – the Main Chapel where monastic rituals are performed.


Lord Buddha in a posture of concentration



For Buddhists, the main chapel is the heart of the monastery, as without a main chapel, it would be a monk center and not a monastery. http://www.watpho.com/en/data/phrauposatha.php


A tour inside the temple complex lets one admire the numerous Buddha statues bright.


The galleries extending between the four chapels feature no less than 394 gilded  Buddha images, many of which display Ayuthaya or Sukhothai features. The remains  of Rama I are interred in the base of the presiding Buddha image in the bòht. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thailand/bangkok/sights/buddhist-temple/wat-pho


In the West Vihara there is an image of “ Pang Nak Prok ”, the Buddha under the Naga’s hood.


One of the most interesting features of the temple is the stone and rock statues.  These Chinese statues stand as guards inside the corridors of Wat Pho. Very interesting to note the facial features and the amazingly well sculpted emotions on the faces. These statues arrived into Thailand from the ships which brought in goods from China. These were used as Ballasts to provide stability to the vessels during sea voyage.

Thailand, with its fertile valleys, was a main producer of rice and other crops in the 19th century, which it exported to China as well as other countries. The ships on the way home, used these Chinese figures as ballast, but these statues became very popular in their own right and were eventually imported for their intrinsic merit also. http://www.photodharma.net/Thailand/Wat-Pho-Buildings/Wat-Pho-Buildings.htm






and …



Bangkok has so much to offer, historical and modern… the old ones captivating the hearts and minds with their skillful architecture and beautiful techniques employed centuries ago. Shall continue with more!