Land of A Thousand Smiles
Other than being renowned for their hospitality throughout the years, Thailand has also enjoyed a growing reputation for its traditional cuisines. Even with the constant improvements and innovations that modern society has become so accustomed to, Thai cuisines have managed to stick firmly to their roots. Whereas other aspects of the country are influenced by western culture, the food and beverage industry remains steadfast to their beliefs. In contrast, other countries have picked up a tip or two from the Thai people to improve further their dishes.
The Benefits of Herbs
One unique aspect of Thai cuisines is the incorporation of different herbs into their ingredient list. It is a common sight to see dishes being cooked with a variety of herbs that eludes an irresistible fragrance. Other than being known for their special aromatic abilities, most of these herbs also contain attractive hidden health benefits for food lovers. To highlight the health aspects of these ingredients, listed below are some of the most beneficial herbs that have heavily influenced the style of Thai cuisines.
The smell of garlic is unmistakable even from afar. It gives off a strong aroma coupled with a pungent flavor. Normally, garlic is added into dishes either by cooking or frying. While Thai cuisines do utilize this method, they have also been known to use raw garlic in dish sauces and salad dressings. Together with its robust fragrance, studies have also shown that garlic is one of best immune-boosting herbs. It can help to ward off the development of cancer cells, prevent diabetes, reduce the risk of heart conditions and also aid in easing high blood pressure.
This herb is an effective tool in masking meat odor. As its name indicates, it gives off a slight lemony flavor that many Thai people fell in love with. Although lemongrass is mainly used as a flavoring tool, it can also be used as an ingredient in soup dishes such as curry and the famous Thai cuisine, Tom Yam. By including lemongrass into dishes, scientists discovered that it can help to treat hypertension naturally. Lemongrass has also been accredited for treating gallstones and stomach discomfort. Interestingly, this herb can be used to repel a variety of insects, giving more reasons to have it in the kitchen.
Thai Sweet Basil
Essentially, any variation of the basil family is an integral part of Thai herbs and spices. They provide different fragrance that can effectively alter the taste of the dish according to personal preferences. Given the freedom of incorporating different types of basil into any dish, it only comes naturally that they offer a host of health benefits. For instance, Thai sweet basil can help to stimulate digestion, enhance appetite and ease gastrointestinal discomfort. On the other hand, hairy basil can help to alleviate common coughs and help to encourage perspiration.
Coriander leaves are viewed as the perfect garnish for any Thai dish due to its cool herbal scent. Alternatively, it can be cut and served raw as a vegetable side dish, but maybe people would have to acquire slowly the taste buds to appreciate it. As with any other vegetables, coriander leaves contain high fiber content which is beneficial to the digestive system and can indirectly aid in weight loss. It can also be used to treat nausea and vomiting.
As a fruit, kaffir lime presents itself as a dark green fruit which is often mistaken as a large lime. However, it possesses a knobby texture that distinguishes itself from the common lime that most people know of. This fruit can be utilized either in its juice form, peels or leaves. They are often incorporated into Thai curries and soups. Whether cooked as a whole or finely shredded, kaffir lime has to be added as one of the last ingredients to prevent its natural oil content from dissipating quickly. When the leaves are used, they help to give the food a sweet flavor. Similar to other herbs and spices, kaffir lime can help to ease indigestion and ease any gastrointestinal discomfort.
Not to be mistaken with onions, shallots are an integral part of Thai cuisine. Other than being used to make curry pastes, condiments, and salads, they can also be served raw as side dishes to accompany another main dish. When consumed, shallots give off an intricate mix of sweet and spicy flavor, which explains its preference to be used in soups and other gravy dishes. Regarding health benefits, scientists have discovered that shallots offer a unique benefit in being able to ease menstrual cramps naturally. Its advantages are not only limited to the female population. Consuming shallots can also help to fight against the common cold, boost appetite and aid in treating indigestion.
As a country, Thailand has always managed to leave a lasting impression on its visitors. The same applies to its traditional cuisines. Through years of formulation and perfection, they have become expertly skilled at using various herbs and spices to give their dishes a unique edge. The intricate balance of these ingredients satisfies a hidden craving that has been lying dormant in most people’s mouth. While Thai cuisines are applauded for their ability to conjure up magical tastes, the health benefits of each dish is equally impressive for healthy lifestyle. Not many national cuisines can boast of satisfying the taste buds and offering health benefits at the same time, but Thai cuisines have certainly met this criterion with flying colors.