10 must-eat Central Thai food on your next trip to Thailand

PHOTO: Tom Kha Gai via freepik

We all know that Thailand is the land of delicious dishes, and each region has its own unique flavours. Central Thailand, where Bangkok, Sukhothai, and Ayutthaya are located, has a lot of amazing local cuisine that’ll make your taste buds tingle with happiness. To complement your stay in this region, you wouldn’t want to skip out on its most mouthwatering foods. Below, we’ve compiled the yummiest Central Thai food you absolutely need to try.

1. Pad Krapao (Stir-fried holy basil)

Central Thai food
PHOTO: Pad Krapao Freepik

Pad Krapao, often known as Spicy Basil, is a minced meat dish flavoured with basil. Some restaurants may only have chicken, pork, or beef as options. However, you can put whatever meat you want in it; for example, a lot of people prefer to use squid, fish, and shrimp. Basil, red bell peppers, green beans, garlic, and finger peppers are the main ingredients in the recipe. It’s much better when topped with “Kai Dao” or fried egg in Thai.

Thais consider spicy basil over rice to be comfort food. You can find this Central Thai food in many street food stands or restaurants.

2. Tom Yum

Central Thai food
PHOTO: Tom Yum via Freepik

Who doesn’t know tom yum? This sour and spicy soup is among the most popular Thai foods in the world, along with Pad Thai. Most people are familiar with the dish as “Tom Yum Kung,” which includes shrimp. However, Thai people also use Pla (fish), Talay (seafood), PlaMuk (squid), and Gai (chicken) to cook this dish. There are 2 varieties of tom yum. Clear Soup, also known as “Nam Sai,” is the original. But only need to add coconut milk or evaporated milk to the soup if you want to make “Tom yum nam khon,” if you want to try the creamy version. A document from 1888, during the reign of King Rama V, had the first mention of “Tom Yum” in Thailand.

3. Kaeng Keaw Wan (Green Curry)

10 must-eat Central Thai food on your next trip to Thailand | News by Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Green Curry via Freepik

Kaeng Keaw Wan, or Thai green curry, is another popular Central Thai food you shouldn’t miss out on. Although it’s considered a Central Thai delicacy, its origin is unknown. Thai people most likely started consuming green curry between 1909 and 1926, under the reign of King Rama VI and VII.

The main protein used in Kaeng Keaw Wan is usually Luk Chin Pla Gai (fish Balls), pork, chicken, and pig. Coconut milk, green curry paste, palm sugar, Thai eggplant, pea aubergine, Kaffir lime leaves, basil leaves, and fish sauce are among the other ingredients in the recipe. Thais enjoy this delicious cuisine with steamed rice or traditional Thai rice noodles called Khanom chin.

4. Kaeng Te Po (Sweet and sour red curry)

10 must-eat Central Thai food on your next trip to Thailand | News by Thaiger
PHOTO: Kaeng Te Po via Freepik

Kaeng Te Po is a type of red curry with coconut milk, pork belly, and morning glory as its main ingredient. This Central Thai food traditionally uses “Te Po” fish, but today, people seem to prefer pork belly instead. The taste has the proper amount of saltiness, sweetness, and sourness from the tamarind juice. The kaffir lime leaves used in the dish give it a distinctive smell as well. Though it might be a little difficult to locate these days, it is a great delicacy you should not miss.

5. Khao Kluk Kapi (Rice with shrimp paste)

Central Thai Food
PHOTO: Khao Khluk Kapi via Wikimedia Commons

Khao Kluk Kapi was mentioned for the first time during King Rama V’s reign in 1907. The real royal recipe actually uses grilled fish, but it was removed for easier preparation. Today, Khao Kluk Kapi is a delicious dish that consists of rice from the bottom of the pot or overnight rice combined with shrimp paste.

It’s usually served with Hom Dang (​shallots), Kung Hang Tod (fried dried shrimp), Kun Chiang Tod (fried Chinese sausages), Prig Tod or Prig Hun (fried chillies or shredded chilli), Kai Jiew Foy (shredded Omelette), Tua Fak Yao (long beans), Ma Moung Dib (raw mango), Ma Now Hun (sliced lime) and Mhoo Wan (sweet pork). Don’t forget to mix all the ingredients together before you enjoy it.

6. Kaeng Som (Sour curry)

10 must-eat Central Thai food on your next trip to Thailand | News by Thaiger
PHOTO: Kaeng Som Kung via Wikimedia Commons

Kaeng Som is a sour soup mixed with vegetables. In the old Thai language, “Som” meant “sour,” and that’s exactly how this soup tastes. Most people use fish and shrimp in the soup. It also uses many vegetables, such as morning glory, raw papaya, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, and other vegetables. That’s why Thai people often refer to it as “Kaeng Som Pak Rum” or “Pak Rum,” which means mixed vegetables. Additionally, Thais also pair it with “Cha-om Kai,” an omelette made with senegalia pennata. When combined with the dish, “Cha-on Kai” will occasionally absorb the soup and enhance the flavour. Yumm!

7. Tom Ka Gai (Thai coconut soup)

10 must-eat Central Thai food on your next trip to Thailand | News by Thaiger
PHOTO: Tom Kha Gai via Wikimedia Commons (cropped)

Tom Ka Gai is basically a curry with coconut milk. The curry is a white-cloudy colour. Just like Tom Yum, it contains a variety of herbs, including galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, lime, chilli, and coriander on top. It’s salty, sour, and greasy – in a good way. Although the ingredients are similar, it tastes more milky and silky than Tom Yum.

8. Kaeng Panang (Panang Curry)

10 must-eat Central Thai food on your next trip to Thailand | News by Thaiger
PHOTO: Kaeng Panang via Wikimedia Commons (cropped)

Kaeng Panang is a thick, salty curry with hints of sweetness. It was influenced by Indian-style curries. However, the Thai version uses Thai herbs and spices. The majority of the time, it consists of beef, pork, chicken, or duck. The dish was first featured in a book released in 1890. It was referred to as “Gai Panang,” which involved marinating a whole chicken in spices and coconut milk before grilling. But now, an easier way to cook has been invented, by cutting up pieces of meat and cooking it with spices before putting it in coconut milk.

9. Hor Mok (Steamed curry)

Central Thai food
PHOTO: Hor Mok Pla via Wikimedia Commons (cropped)

Hor Mok is an age-old dish that is well-liked across all of Thailand. However, regional variations exist. In Central Thailand, people make it with red curry paste with creamy coconut milk on top. Hor Mok Pla (Hor Mok with fish) is perhaps the most popular form of the dish nowadays, but there are also many others that include seafood, shrimp, salmon, etc. The meat is typically combined with spice paste and seasoning, followed by veggies and served in a banana leaf bowl. The primary ingredients in the vegetables are noni leaf, basil, and cabbage. Enjoy it with hot steamed rice; the flavour is just delicious!

10. Kaeng Phed (Red curry)

Central Thai food
PHOTO: Kaeng Phed via Wikimedia Commons

Kaeng Ped (Red curry) and Kaeng Keaw Wan (Green curry) are similar. However, Kaeng Ped mostly uses red chillies for the paste and coriander seeds for a more herby flavour. The curry’s major component is a blend of coconut milk. People commonly prepare it with chicken, beef, hog, catfish, or shrimp. The most popular form of Kaeng Ped is Kaeng Phed Ped Yang, or grilled duck red curry. Some distinctive ingredients you’ll find in Kaeng Phed Ped Yang are tomato and pineapple.

How many of these Central Thai foods have you tried? For more delicious Thai food, try these delicious Northern Thai cuisines.

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