So you think you know Thai food?

Come with us on a culinary journey to Thailand—and no, we don’t mean the rather watered-down red, green, or even silver curries you get here—but rather one that will showcase the country’s rich heritage. Located between India in the west, China in the north, Laos and Vietnam in the east, and Malaysia and Indonesia in the south, Thailand has taken the best culinary traditions from these flavour-rich nations and become a melting pot of the great cuisines of Asia.
  

To know the now, one must know the past
 
The roots of this incredibly complex cuisine—that focuses on balance, variety, and detail—can be traced to the 14th century when Thailand’s ancient capital Ayutthaya was the centre of trade for the region and attracted foreigners settlers such as Persians, Indians, Chinese, Laotians, Japanese as well as the Portuguese, Dutch and French. One can see the influence of these expats and their cuisines in the ingredients and techniques of Thai cooking, tweaked and perfected over many centuries. Did you know that staples of Thai cuisine, such as chilli, pineapple, papaya, pumpkin, peanuts, cashews, and cilantro, were introduced from the Americas?
 
 
Beyond Pad Thai and Tom Yum…
 
Each region offers its own specialties:
 
Central Plains Thai cuisine is the most complex, reflecting its wealth, diversity and many influences of the past. Long-grain rice is very popular here and the broad range of flavours include hot, salty (mainly fish sauce and shrimp paste), sweet and sour in varying degrees. A strong Chinese influence means that there are many brisk stir-fries and rice noodle dishes.
 
Northern Thai cuisine, also known as Lanna, is the most seasonal and milder than other regional varieties, and reflects a love of pork, vegetables, sticky rice and all things deep-fried. The primary flavours are hot (from prickly ash which is similar to Chinese Sichuan pepper), salty (from light soy sauce) and bitterness (from a variety of plants from nearby mountains and forests).
 
North-Eastern Thai cuisine (Isarn region) is greatly influenced by Laos and Cambodia. The food is very hot, mostly raw or cured, and served with long-rain or sticky rice. It is an impoverished area and therefore the food is extremely pungent so you only need a little amount with your rice.
 
Southern Thai cuisine is influenced by  India, Malaysia and Indonesia. It has the hottest flavours and unsurprisingly a host of Geang—spiced soup or curry. Coconut cream and its oil are used heavily in the south, but the food is balanced with astringent turmeric, shrimp paste, very hot orange chillies and sour fruit. The Muslim community, however, prefer cooking with stock, ghee and yoghurt and spices such as cardamom and cumin. Beef, mutton and goat are favoured meats.