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Phuket Food: Hurry for a curry

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Given that Phuket offers very little in terms of flavors from the sub-continent, we pounced on the opportunity to try out one small Indian restaurant recently discovered by a couple of friends way out in Cape Panwa.

Only a stone’s throw away from the city center, Cape Panwa seems like a parallel universe compared to the rest of Phuket. Except for a few low rise hotels, the look and pace of this area is still very much 1980s lush, windy roads, sparsely populated countryside, roadside banana stalls and families in Saleng (motorized three wheelers).

Situated on highway route number 4129 (Sakdidet Road), about two kilometers from the Phuket Deep Sea Port, and right across from Radisson Blu Plaza Resort, Curry Night restaurant feels unassuming and homely. Its top-floor terrace setting is open-plan and can accom- modate as many as fifty customers at any one time, and according to Anita, the restaurant’s manager, the place can be busy during the high season. Regulars, my freinds and I were told, were well represented by staff and guests from the hotels nearby. During our visit on a Saturday, we spotted a large family with children quietly enjoying their meals there.

A member of our group, who seems to believe herself well versed in Northern Indian food, took charge of the ordering at once. For drinks, a Lassi is an absolute must – it’s a slightly sweet and refreshing shake made from ripe mango and homemade yoghurt.

Starters came in the form of gold-colored Bhaji, or fried onion rings and Samosas – a triangular pastry filled with spiced vegetables. Curry Night offers three types of fillings for samosas: vegetarian, lamb or paneer – a kind of cheese curd, very popular in India, which they make on site. Both Bhaji and Samosas were served with two dipping sauces; chili and tamarind chutneys.

The former is made from grinding together bright green chili, mint and coriander leaves, and has quite a kick to it (think spicy Italian pesto). Green chutney proved a roaring success with the Thais while foreign friends loved the milder, sweet and sour tamarind version.

There were also bright red pickled shallots on the side that, when eaten with above snacks, take away any hint of oily aftertaste that often accompanies anything deep-fried.

Then, in a true Indian pick n’ mix fashion, using our fingers, we tucked into the mains made up of a delectable variety of curries: lamb Vindaloo, Sag chicken (a bright green curry sauce made from spinach), prawn Masala, Aloo Gobhi (potato and green peas curry), and Bombay Aloo (spiced potatoes).

To accompany the curries, we selected a briyani which was beautifully presented(saffron rice with potato and peas) and for breads we chose Chapati, and plain and garlic Naans. The breads were baked freshly in Curry Night’s authentic Tandoor oven and were light and crispy.

Manager Anita working together with chef Soniya ensures that their creations remain as close to the authentic Indian flavor as possible. Prior to Curry Night, both of them have had plenty of culinary experience working in Indian establishments. The restaurant orders its spices from the Indian market in Bangkok, only a small batch at a time, said Anita, because spices tend to lose their fragrance very quickly.

Meat like chicken is sourced from halal butchers around Phuket, and the lamb is imported; but the chef and Anita select their seafood from the fresh market in town.

We have found most dishes to be excellent, except for lamb Vindaloo, which didn’t have quite the kick associated with this type of curry. But then it was our mistake for having ordered it “medium hot”. The sauce was however, excellent, while the lamb almost melted in our mouths.

Lunch for six including drinks of Lassi came to about 3,000 baht. In all, it was a very satisfying meal in a relaxed ambiance. We will surely come back, determined to sample what we missed out on that day: butter chicken, lamb Rogan Josh and the famous Tandoori chicken.

Curry Night opens daily from 11am to 11pm. Address: 19/15 Moo 8 Sakdidej Road, Cape Panwa, Tel 089 726 4495, 090 030 8952.

— Nanthapa Pengkasem

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

World

The World’s 50 Best Foods… Thai massaman curry tops the list

Maya Taylor

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The World’s 50 Best Foods… Thai massaman curry tops the list | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Young Sok Yun on Flickr

The humble Thai massaman curry has topped a list of the World’s 50 Best Foods, compiled by the CNN Travel team. Thailand’s smooth coconut milk and potato-based curry (add meat, tofu or vegetables of your choice) comes in at Number 1, with 2 other popular Thai dishes also making it into the World’s Best food list.

The hot and spicy shrimp/prawn soup, Tom Yum Goong, comes in at Number 8, with papaya salad, aka somtam, in 46th place (mai phet please!) Tell us your favourite Thai dish, and why, in the comments section (below).

CNN Travel says its staff conducted extensive research on global cuisine to find the 50 best dishes ever created. Nice work if you can get it…

Italian pizza, Mexican chocolate, Japanese sushi, Chinese Peking duck, Penang Assam laksa, Malaysia and German Hamburger also top the delicious list.

Here’s what the writers had to say about the 3 Thai dishes that made the top taste grade…

First Place, Massaman curryEmphatically the king of curries, and perhaps the king of all foods. Spicy, coconutty, sweet and savoury. Even the packet sauce you buy from the supermarket can make the most delinquent of cooks look like a Michelin potential. Thankfully, someone invented rice, with which diners can mop up the last drizzles of curry sauce. “The Land of Smiles” isn’t just a marketing catch-line. It’s a result of being born in a land where the world’s most delicious food is sold on nearly every street corner.

Eighth Place, Tom Yum Kung

This best food Thai masterpiece teems with shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. Usually loaded with coconut milk and cream, the hearty soup unifies a host of favourite Thai tastes: sour, salty, spicy and sweet. Best of all is the price: cheap.

The World’s 50 Best Foods... Thai massaman curry tops the list | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Richard Lee on Flickr

46th Place, Som Tam/Papaya salad

To prepare Thailand’s most famous salad, pound garlic and chilies with a mortar and pestle. Toss in tamarind juice, fish sauce, peanuts, dried shrimp, tomatoes, lime juice, sugar cane paste, string beans and a handful of grated green papaya. Grab a side of sticky rice. Variations include those made with crab (som tam pu) and fermented fish sauce (som tam pla ra), but none matches the flavour and simple beauty of the original.

The World’s 50 Best Foods... Thai massaman curry tops the list | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: www.needpix.com

SOURCE: Thai Residents | CNN Travel

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Tourism

Top 10 tips to avoid food poisoning in Thailand, and how to recover

The Thaiger

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Top 10 tips to avoid food poisoning in Thailand, and how to recover | The Thaiger

NOTICE: The Thaiger are experienced travellers but we’re not doctors. This information is provided as a general guideline if you are confronted with food poisoning. In all cases consider seeking medical attention.

Travelling in foreign locations and trying out the local dishes will always risk a bout of the dreaded food poisoning – Bali belly, Thailand tummy. Thailand has some of the world’s tastiest food but also the potential to put you flat on your back for a few days.

Travelling around Thailand you face a double whammy of exotic new spices along with an equally exotic list of new microbes and bacteria working hard to make your day a bad one. One bit of bad luck and you’ll disrupt the delicate balance found within your digestive system.

Contaminated water? Spoiled meat? Food left out in the open for too long? Whilst the vast majority of Thai food, even the street food, is unlikely to upset your digestive system, the more adventurous your eating, the more likely you are to confront a bout of food poisoning along your journey.

It will start with stomach cramps, nausea and sweating. It will usually kick in in the first four hours after your meal, probably earlier. You’ll know it!

Projectile vomiting and diarrhea are usually the result and the next 10-12 hours of your life will be spent in close proximity to a toilet. You will feel like death-warmed-up… chills, cramps, maybe a fever and lots of sweating. But you WILL get over it.

Here is The Thaiger’s Top Ten ways to avoid, and recover from, a bout of food poisoning.

Top 10 tips to avoid food poisoning in Thailand, and how to recover | News by The Thaiger

Don’t get food poisoning!

The best way to avoid food poisoning, or its lesser partner traveller’s diarrhea, is to not get it in the first place. But even the most cautious tourist can consume something they think is safe… but isn’t.

Avoiding food poisoning is everyone’s obvious aim, but if it does happens it’s not the end of the world. But it is going to put a dent in your plans for a few days. Be cautious, read up about potential problems and turn you brain on before you go ‘full commando’ on food you’ve never experienced.

No fresh leafy greens

Unless you are absolutely sure they have been copiously washed with filtered water it is best to avoid eating anything in this category. Cooked greens are usually ok, especially in boiled soups. Try to also avoid raw unpeeled fruit or vegetables as well.

Salads in a street restaurant, somewhere off the beaten track? Probably not.

Street food

Street food, literally food you can buy on the kerbside or footpaths anywhere in Thailand, often looks and smells amazing, and is usually safe to eat. But avoid anything that looks like it’s been sitting around in the sun and humidity. Stick with bubbling boiling soups, freshly fried Pad Thai, and meat that has been grilled right in front of you.

Ice ice baby

The vast majority of restaurants and bars in tourist areas use ice that comes from frozen purified water and have it delivered daily. Off the beaten track it’s best to ask first if the ice (nam kang) is made from tap water or is fresh that day. When in doubt, leave it out – better a warm beer than half a day leaning over the toilet 🙂

Drinking water

It’s best to observe the golden rule about drinking water in Thailand – never drink the tap water. The down-side is that most of the potable water is going to come to you in a single-use plastic water bottle which we’re all trying to avoid these days. Most hotels, and some restaurants, will have drinking stations where you can top up your water safely.

Drinking water is very cheap in Thailand and is available everywhere, like EVERYWHERE!

All that said, we suspect that in places like Phuket, Chiang Mai, most of inner Bangkok, Pattaya and Hua Hin, the water out of the tap IS safe to drink these days. But don’t take our word for it! As a traveller, you need to err on the side of caution.

The Thaiger has lived in Thailand for a decade and brushes teeth and uses the local supply (in Phuket and Bangkok) and has never had any ‘tummy-rumbles’ from interacting with the local potable water supply. But that’s not a scientific study, just our own experience.

Leftovers

“Mmmm, that pizza was great last night. I’ll have the rest tomorrow.”

Maybe, but you need to refrigerate it before it gets cold and then eat it quickly the next day before it has time to ‘warm up’. If it’s more than a day old, throw it out or feed it to the dog or cat who have cast-iron stomachs compared to humans.

Ditto for any other leftover you think you’d like to save for the next day.

Top 10 tips to avoid food poisoning in Thailand, and how to recover | News by The Thaiger

Rehydration

If you are experiencing diarrhea or vomiting you need to make sure you rehydrate properly. If you are not doing a great job holding water in, go to the nearest pharmacy and pick up Oral Rehydration packets.

If you are suffering from food poisoning in Thailand you will do well to grab some of these packets. They should cost you no more than 5 baht. Use up to 5 a day.

Seek Medical Treatment

If it’s a mild case you are probably going to be able to self-medicate your way back to perfect health. If it’s serious and you’re just flat on your back (between rushing to the toilet) for more than a day, then you’d be advised to seek medical attention. If you have blood in your vomit or stools, or high fever lasting more than an hour or so, seek medical attention quickly.

Thai doctors usually go down the medication route whereas some western doctors would now specify a more natural approach to recovery. If you have medical and travel insurance (you’re insane travelling without both!), and are in places like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Pattaya, Samui, Hua Hin or Khon Kaen, then head to a private international hospital, rather than a local hospital.

There’s nothing really wrong with the local hospitals – you will be charged less but you will be charged – but you’re going to have to battle language barriers and waits at a time when you’re not really focussed on anything except how sick you feel.

A better choice would be a local clinic – Google is your best friend here or ask you hotel or someone with some local knowledge.

CAUTION: A lot of people use to take Loperamide aka. ‘Imodium’ when they had diarrhea in the past. Generally medical advice these days is NOT to take these drugs unless you consult a doctor first. Read more HERE.

Rest and time

Your body will use a lot of energy trying to evacuate whatever is making you sick. Sometimes you will wonder where everything coming out of you, is coming from! It’s just a never-ending source of hell. At some stage though it will calm down and your poor body will be exhausted. So rest.

Don’t be afraid to miss out on a couple of days of activities as a result – put your body and recovery ahead of anything. For now you need lots of sleep and rest.

Be a BRAT

For a few days stay off the exotic foods that put you here in the first place. Go bland, go BRAT. The BRAT diet is tried and tested and, whilst not very exciting, will hep the flora of your stomach recover quickly while getting enough nutrients to keep you going.

BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Yeah, bland indeed.

You can add to this fairly palette with other gentle foods… plain biscuits, oatmeal, weak tea, apple juice or flat carbonated drinks (just open them and let them sit for a few hours to lose their ‘fizz’), bland ‘broth’ soups, boiled potatoes.

Here are foods to avoid during your recovery… milk and dairy, anything fried, greasy, fatty, or spicy, steak, pork, salmon, and sardines, raw veggies, including salad greens, carrot sticks, broccoli, and cauliflower, fruits, such as pineapple, orange, grapefruit, apple, and tomato, very hot or cold drinks, alcohol, coffee, or other drinks containing caffeine. Or Thai food generally!

After a few days on BRAT you can start trying things like soft-cooked eggs, cooked fruits and vegetables, and white meat, like chicken or turkey.

Importantly, until your body has finished getting rid of ‘whatever is ailing you’, don’t eat anything. It will just end up, along with everything else, making a quick journey from one end of your body to the other.

Start drinking flat soda (lemonade) or carbonated drinks, or ‘Gatorade’-style electrolyte drinks (you can powders from any Pharmacy) as soon as you can to keep the body hydrated, even fresh coconut water, (although make sure it is fresh, otherwise you’re going to end up in the toilet).

Dehydration is a big problem following a bout of vomiting and diarrhea so focus on getting some fluids back into your system as soon as you can tolerate it.

Top 10 tips to avoid food poisoning in Thailand, and how to recover | News by The Thaiger

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Thailand

Miss airplane travel? Here’s some flight experiences that don’t leave the ground

Caitlin Ashworth

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Miss airplane travel? Here’s some flight experiences that don’t leave the ground | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

Since international travel is still on pause, some are getting their flight experience on the ground. Airplane cafes and flight experiences are becoming more and more popular. Thai Airways has not only opened a pop-up café to sell airplane food, but they are also offering flight simulations to the public.

The stimulator flying experiences start at 12,000 baht for 30 minutes and go up to 36,000 baht for 90 minutes. It’s apparently the most realistic flight simulation in Thailand and is normally only used for training the pilots, according to the airline’s executive vice president of operations Soradech Namruangsri. He adds that the deal will also generate some additional income.

The airline’s café has also “taken off.” The café at the Thai Airways headquarters in Bangkok gives the travel experience without being in the air. Customers pose with luggage at the door and sit in airplane seats. They offer dishes like pasta carbonara, Caesar salad with smoked salmon, and mango cheese cake.

Since the lockdown forced many to stay at home, the café gives the travel experience without the actual travel. A customer says the café “relieves what’s missing.”

“Normally I’m a person who travels very often, and when we are forced to stay at home… it’s kind of depressing.”

In Chon Buri, a coffee shop in a decommissioned Airbus 330 became so popular that it had to temporarily close down last June. Thousands of daily customers crowded the airplane café Coffee War, making social distancing difficult.

Many pose for photos in the first class seats. The “passengers” even get boarding passes. A customer says experience is a lot of fun.

“With this café I can sit in first class and also mess around in the cockpit pretending to be the captain of the plane.”

Another customer says she also likes to sit in the first class section, adding that it feels like she’s “cruising through the air.”

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Nation Thailand

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