Treat yourself to diverse Thai flavours at Marriott’s Vintage Asia in Kolkata
There is no Thai food monolith. There’s so much more to Thai cuisine apart from the oft referred red and green curries and a few fish dishes. The food habits differ vastly as you move from north to central to southern regions of the Thai kingdom. JW Marriott’s signature Asian diner, Vintage Asia has flown down Chef Samart Muesantat all the way from Koh Samui’s Sheraton Samui Resort to give Kolkata a taste of the wide variety of Thai dishes available across the north, south and central regions of the country.
The culinary trip started with some vegetarian and non-vegetarian salads including Larb Ped Yang, shreds of roasted duck tossed in herbs, dry chilli with a dash of lime and Lab Had, an aromatic mixed mushroom salad tempered with mint leaves chilli and lemon. The salads will uncannily remind you of the typical sprouted gram and legume chaats sold by vendors in street corners of Kolkata.
This was followed by Lab Had Thod, an aromatic, fried, mixed mushroom garnished with mint, lime and chili. For a change we just loved the Tofu Satay, which was served with a sweet peanut sauce. The tofu was grilled to perfection and retained its softness to the core. The peanut sauce was soaked well by the tofu, leading to a sublime taste.
The clear soup comprising tofu, seaweed and vegetables was anodyne and did the trick of whetting the appetite further. The main course consisted of stir fired prawns dipped in chilli oyster sauce. The small pieces of cashew nuts gave the dish a crunchy feel, enhancing the taste a notch higher. Then came fried bekti tossed in basil sweet chilli sauce. It had a very recognisable flavour and was on the spicier side of an otherwise bland menu.
Thai food is not necessarily about spiciness as we tend to assume wrongly. Those residing in the Northern fringes of Thailand have very little spice in their food and their dishes are almost bland, retaining the natural flavours of the food. The blandeness is increased manifold since they complement the dishes with sticky rice. The central region has moderately spicy food, while those in the South of Thailand love their spices. The central and southern parts of Thailand have their food with steamed jasmine rice.
“The choice of meat is also vastly different across the regions. Duck and pork are popular choices in the south, while chicken and mushrooms are widely used in northern part. Papaya salad is popular in the north, where they have it with sticky rice,” elaborates the congenial Chef Samart.
The chef also mentions that Kaoa, a local vegetable, is liberally used in all the dishes along with cauliflower, broccoli and carrot. Tiger prawns, crab and seafood are very popular in central and southern parts of the country. The curries – green, yellow and red – that are so popular in India are also easy to make at home.
“For any curry the main ingredients include galangal, kafir lime leaves and kafir lime, shallots, salt and turmeric. To make it green, green chillies are used and to get the red colour dry red chillies are used. The yellow tinge is derived by increasing the proportion of turmeric in the curry,” the chef reveals.
The best was saved for the last and we say so, since the dessert was simply out of the world. Sakoo Mapraw Om, a smooth blend of sweet tapioca embedded in a thick cream of coconut milk, was all that we could have asked for to end the course.
If you happen to have a knack for the bland taste and natural flavours, then this festival celebrating authentic Thai cuisine is a must-go event.
What: Thai food festival
Where: Vintage Asia, JW Marriott Kolkata, 4A, JBS Haldane Avenue, Kolkata – 700 105
When: September 7 to 16, Dinner (all days) – 7.00 p.m. to 11.45 p.m. Lunch on Saturdays – 12.30 p.m. to 3 p.m. and brunch on Sunday (set menu) – 12.30 p.m. to 3.30 p.m.
For Reservations: (033) 6633 0000
Pocket Pinch: Ala carte at Rs 3,000 + for two, set menu at Rs 1,999 (AI) per person