It is no secret that I have a special soft corner in my heart for Thailand; I have waxed eloquent about this on the blog often enough. The Land of Smiles is where the husband and I honeymooned, back in 2009. It is the place where we prayed for a daughter. It is the place we celebrated our daughter’s fourth birthday, keeping our promise to the Emerald Buddha to come back once we had a child. The country has given us several fond memories to look back upon and cherish and, needless to say, I would love to visit again.
As Thailand gears up to open international travel, I take this opportunity to share with you all some precious moments in the country that we hold close to our hearts. I have my fingers (and toes) crossed for the pandemic to ease soon, so we are free to fly to distant lands and explore them without fear. I can’t wait to rediscover our favourite Thai haunts, and ourselves in the process.
Until then, here is a glimpse of some special moments from our holidays in Thailand so far.
Being a part of Thailand’s Vegetarian Festival
The grand launch of Terminal 21
Immersing into Thai culture
Walking amidst the ruins of Ayutthaya
Getting up, close and personal with feathered friends at Safari World
Experiencing the splendour of Thai cuisine
The wonders of underwater life
Peaceful sunsets on the Pattaya beach
Being one with the elephants at Elephant Safari
Marvelling at the stunningly beautiful Thai temples
This is my entry for the #BlogYourThailand contest conducted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, India. The theme I have chosen is ‘Rediscover’.
Just how many times have we heard that being said? Studies have shown that eating different naturally coloured foods ensures that you get different types of nutrients into your system. And then, of course, there’s the leap that your heart takes when you look at all the pretty colours on your plate! The recipe that I’m about to share with you today, Khao Yum, will surely make your heart sing with joy with all its loveliness.
It’s not for nothing that Khao Yum is called Thai Rainbow Rice Salad – it is, really and truly, a rainbow on your platter. I made this some time ago for lunch as a surprise for the husband. He came home from a meeting for lunch, expecting the regular fare, and you should have seen the look on his face when he was presented with a rainbow instead. 🙂 Take a look for yourself?
What on earth is a Rainbow Rice Salad?
It is a salad made Thai style, with rice being the main ingredient. Cooked jasmine rice is at the centre of this salad, with assorted accompaniments to go with it, a delicious dressing included. All of it is typically served separately as above, on a platter or bowl. The diners are expected to mix together the various components of the salad, as per their personal taste preferences.
Now, the Thais, being the Thais, don’t do anything by half measures. On our visits to Thailand, I have always admired how the Thais make everything look cute and pretty – from pens and soaps to clothes and hot water bottles and, of course, food! At a little Thai restaurant, you could be ordering a simple Thai Sticky Rice With Mango that’s regular fare over there, but it’ll come to your table presented so beautifully it could give five-star chefs in big metros a run for their money! This Khao Yum is no exception – the jasmine rice is, traditionally, coloured blue using the butterfly pea flower, and colourful accompaniments are laid out all around it.
The dressing served with Khao Yum is bursting with flavour, the way most Thai dishes do. It is sweet and sour and spicy, the kind of thing that will make your tastebuds wake up and take notice. I’m serious! With the dressing and the sides, this Thai Rainbow Rice Salad makes for a supremely delicious, hearty meal.
It is quite a healthy thing, too, this salad, with no artificial colours or flavours going in, with limited usage of oil.
Is Khao Yum a very difficult thing to make?
We didn’t come across this dish in any of the Thai restaurants we visited, in Bangkok and Pattaya. It was only recently, while I was reading up about the country’s cuisine that I came across this dish on Hot Thai Kitchen, a treasure trove of Thai recipes that I have come to love. I’m wondering if this salad is more of a family thing in Thailand, and hasn’t really made it to the mainstream restaurants. I’m not sure.
Anyways, Khao Yum isn’t a difficult thing to make at home, at all. If you have all the right ingredients at hand, it is super simple to put this salad together. In Thailand, I understand this is a non-vegetarian salad, with shrimp being used in the dressing as well as a side. I have, however, made a vegetarian version here.
Are the ingredients for KhaoYum tough to find in India?
Depends on where you are based in India, I would say. However, you can definitely make this salad using vegetarian ingredients commonly available in most Indian cities. Here’s a breakdown of the ingredients for you.
Many departmental stores and gourmet food stores stock jasmine rice – the heart of this salad – these days. In a pinch, basmati rice or any other fragrant variety of rice can be used, but I would really suggest hunting down some jasmine rice.
Dried butterfly pea flowers are easily available online, albeit a bit expensive. In case you have the fresh flowers – called Shankha Pushpam or Sangu Poo down South – growing somewhere around you, you could use them too. You could leave the rice plain white, too, if you so prefer, or colour it a different colour using handy stuff from your kitchen – a pinch of turmeric, maybe? I have used butterfly pea-infused jasmine rice that I picked up in Big C, Thailand, to make this salad. I just had to pressure cook the rice like we do usually, and I ended up with this naturally coloured, beautiful blue cooked rice. In this video, Pailin of Hot Thai Kitchen shows how you can achieve the same blue effect using purple cabbage and baking soda. Yes!
There are no hard and fast rules as to what accompaniments this salad should have. The rice and toasted coconut is a must, as far as I understand, as well as the dressing. There should, ideally, be a sweet-sour juicy fruit too, like pomelo, pineapple, raw mango or apple – I have used pineapple. Tofu can be used in place of the paneer I have used here. I have also used lemon wedges, sweet corn, carrot, moong sprouts and seedless cucumber as accompaniments. All of these ingredients are fairly easy to source across India.
The dressing needs ingredients like tamarind, ginger, jaggery, dry red chillies, small onions, lemongrass, soya sauce, garlic and lemon zest, which aren’t difficult to find either. I have used regular Indian tamarind, ginger and jaggery in place of the Thai tamarind, galangal and palm jaggery that typically goes into the dressing. The lemongrass came from a potted plant in my balcony, but it is commonly available in stores like Namdhari’s and MK Retail in Bangalore. I used naturally fermented soya sauce from Shoyu, a Thai brand, in the dressing. You could use a regular Indian brand or look for naturally fermented versions online or in specialty stores.
All set to make your Thai Rainbow Rice Salad? Here’s how you roll!
Please find below instructions to put together Khao Yum or Thai Rainbow Rice Salad at home. Don’t be fazed by the number of steps in there – that’s only because I have tried to explain everything in great detail. In reality, this is a very, very simple thing to make. I have adapted the original recipe from Hot Thai Kitchen to suit my family’s vegetarian preferences, tastebuds and availability of ingredients.
I’m sharing this recipe with the A-Z Recipe Challenge group that I’m part of. Every alternate month, the members of this group present recipes made from ingredients in alphabetical order. The letter for this month is J, and I chose ‘jasmine rice’ as my star ingredient.
1. Soak the tamarind in a little hot water for at least 15 minutes. When it cools down enough to handle, extract a thick paste out of it. You may add a little more water if needed, to help extract the juice. Keep aside.
2. Peel the onion and ginger and chop roughly. Peel the garlic cloves. Add these to a small mixer jar.
3. Roughly chop the lemongrass strands. Add to the mixer jar.
4. Break the dry red chillies roughly using your hands. Add to the mixer jar.
5. Grind the ingredients in the mixer jar coarsely or to a smooth paste, as you prefer.
6. Transfer the ground paste to a pan, and place on high heat. Add in tamarind extract and salt to taste. Cook on high flame for 2-3 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.
7. Add soya sauce, lemon zest, jaggery and enough water to bring the sauce to a runny consistency. Cook on medium flame till all the ingredients are well combined together and the sauce thickens a bit. This should take about 2 minutes. Switch off gas and allow the dressing to cool down fully.
Now, we will do the prep work that is needed for the salad.
1. Cook the butterfly pea rice as per the instructions on the package. I cooked the 1 cup of butterfly pea rice I used in a pressure cooker. I added 2 cups of water and cooked for 3 whistles on high flame. Let the pressure release naturally.
2. Make sure all the thorns and cores are removed from the pineapple, and that it is chopped into bite-sized pieces.
3. Peel the carrot and grate medium-thick.
4. Chop the cucumber into batons or rounds, as you prefer.
5. Dry roast the peanuts on medium flame till crisp. Ensure that they do not burn.
6. Dry roast the grated coconut on medium flame till it gets brown. Ensure that it doesn’t burn.
7. Cut the lemon into wedges.
8. Chop the paneer into cubes. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan, and add in the paneer cubes. Saute gently till they turn slightly crisp and start browning.
9. You may saute or blanch the moong bean sprouts if you so prefer. I kept them raw.
10. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in the same pan, and add in the sweet corn kernels. Saute on medium flame till the kernels are half cooked but retain their crunch.
Now, let’s assemble the Khao Yum or Thai Rainbow Rice Salad.
1. When the pressure from the cooker has entirely gone down, get the cooked blue rice out and let it cool down a bit. Then, fill a bowl tightly with the rice and invert it in the centre of a large serving plate. Sprinkle some finely chopped coriander on top of the mound of rice.
2. Arrange some of the moong bean sprouts, roasted peanuts and coconut, sauteed sweet corn and paneer, pineapple pieces, grated carrot, lemon wedges and grated carrot attractively all around the rice. Serve immediately, with some dressing poured into a small cup. Prepare salad platters for all the diners similarly.
And you’re all set!
Tips & Tricks
1. I used a mix of the hot Salem Gundu and the not-very-spicy Bydagi dry red chillies to make the dressing. Adjust the quantity of chillies you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.
2. I grated the skin of two regular-sized lemons to get 1 teaspoon zest, for the salad dressing. If you have kaffir lime leaves, you could use two of them in place of the lemon zest.
3. Filter out the seeds and impurities from the tamarind before using them in the dressing.
4. Sugar, honey, palm jaggery or coconut sugar can be used in the dressing. Here, I have used regular jaggery powder.
5. I used home-grown lemongrass to make the dressing. If you don’t find lemongrass leaves, you can use about 2-3 inches of the bottom, bulb-like part of lemongrass. It is even more fragrant.
6. Adjust the quantity of tamarind and jaggery as per personal taste preferences. Similarly, adjust the amount of water you use, depending on how thick you want the salad dressing to be.
7. The salad dressing can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Similarly, any leftover dressing can be bottled and refrigerated for later use. However, I prefer making it fresh.
8. This salad is typically served at room temperature. Hence, you must allow all the cooked ingredients to fully cool down before you assemble the salad.
9. This is a completely vegetarian recipe. You may substitute some of the ingredients in case you wish to make a non-vegetarian version. This is a gluten-free recipe as well. Using tofu in place of the paneer here will also render it a vegan or plant-based dish.
Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!
Navratri and sundal are synonymous with each other, in the south of India. The typical sundal is made using legumes like black chana, moong beans, hyacinth beans, dry green peas, black-eyed peas or kabulichana, tempered simply with mustard and red or green chillies, with a good amount of coconut added in. Some families also add in a sundal podi – made using dry red chillies, chana dal, uraddal and the like. The sundal recipe I present to you today – Karuppu Mocchai Sundal – is made using dried purple hyacinth beans (yes, such a thing does exist!). I did not have sundal podi ready, so I took my mom’s advice and flavoured this with home-made dosa milagai podi aka gunpowder. I’m so glad I did, for the end result was beautiful!
Each time I go to my Mama‘s place in Madras, I sneak in a visit to the Pazhamudir Cholai in Nanganallur. For the uninitiated, Pazhamudir Cholai – literally ‘orchard of abundant fruits and vegetables’ in Tamil – is the name by which large vegetable shops are referred to in Tamilnadu. Most of these shops stock flowers, grains and pulses, various other items of household use, chocolates, ice creams and fresh fruit juices, apart from a vast variety of fruits, leafy greens and veggies. I adore the PazhamudirCholai in the Nanganallur area – situated very conveniently right next to a Murugan Idli Shop which serves some seriously delicious food. The shop is a treasure trove of unique food products, some indigenous to Tamilnadu, which aren’t easy to come across elsewhere. The food blogger in me is overjoyed to see things like baby bitter gourds, the longest of snake gourds, purple hyacinth beans, fresh black nightshade berries, moringa flowers, and greens like Maderaspatana, Vallarai and Pirandai. I picked up a pack of dried purple hyacinth beans (‘karuppu mocchai‘ in Tamil) here on my last visit, a novelty to me. Some of these beans went into the making of this KaruppuMocchai Sundal, a delicious prasadam that all of us enjoyed heartily.
Hyacinth beans – also called lablab, lima beans, field beans, avarai (Tamil) or mocchai (Tamil) – usually have green pods, which bear green-coloured seeds (yellowish when dried). However, there is also a purple version of these beans available – the fresh pods are a pretty purple in colour, and they bear deep purple seeds. The blackish-purple seeds can be dried too, in which case they need overnight soaking before cooking. The presence of anthocyanins is what gives these beans their purple colour, similar to black rice, purple corn, purple cabbage and cauliflower, blackberries and blueberries. The high-protein beans lose their purple colour upon cooking, though, but they do possess a certain characteristic scent which might not be agreeable to everyone. The dosamilagai podi I used in the KaruppuMocchai Sundal helped mask the smell of these beans greatly. The sundal was absolutely flavourful and very lovely!
Now, without further ado, let’s check out the proceedure to make the Karuppu Mocchai Sundal. I’m linking this recipe with My Legume Love Affair (MLLA), an initiative started by Lisa’s Kitchen, to familiarise people with the several types of legumes that exist. This month, it is the 132nd edition of MLLA, and it is being hosted by Kalyani of Sizzling Tastebuds.
Ingredients (serves 5-6):
1 cup dried purple hyacinth beans or karuppu mocchai
1/2 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 pinches of asafoetida
3-4 dry red chillies
2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
About 3 tablespoons dosa milagaipodi or as needed
1 tablespoon jaggery powder or as needed
Red chilli powder to taste
1/3 cup fresh grated coconut or to taste
A dash of lemon
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
1. Soak the dried purple hyacinth beans for 8-10 hours or overnight, in enough fresh water to cover them completely.
2. When the beans are done soaking, drain out all the water from them and discard. Transfer the drained beans to a wide vessel, and add in enough fresh water to cover the beans completely.
3. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook the beans for 4-5 whistles or till they are well cooked. They shouldn’t get overly mushy. Let the pressure release naturally.
4. Drain out all the water from the cooked beans, once the pressure has gone down completely. Reserve the water for future use.
5. Heat the oil in a pan. Add mustard, and allow it to pop. Add in the dried red chillies, asafoetida and curry leaves. Let the ingredients stay in for a couple of seconds.
6. Add the cooked and drained hyacinth beans to the pan, along with salt, red chilli powder, jaggery powder and turmeric powder. Mix well.
7. Cook on medium flame till all the water from the beans dries up and all the ingredients are well combined together, 3-4 minutes.
8. Add the dosa milagai podi and grated fresh coconut. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for a minute more. Switch off gas.
9. Add in lemon juice and finely chopped coriander. Mix well. Your Karuppu Mocchai Sundal is ready – serve it warm or at room temperature.
1. Use fresh, soft water to soak the hyacinth beans.
2. Make sure the beans are well cooked but not overly mushy, before proceeding to make the sundal.
3. Coconut oil or gingelly oil (nallaennai) works best in the making of this sundal.
4. If you don’t have dried purple hyacinth beans, you can use the regular dried yellow ones instead. Follow the above proceedure for the same, too.
5. Adjust the quantity of coconut you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.
6. I have used home-made dosamilagai podi to flavour this sundal. Since the podi is quite mildly spiced and sweet, I have added some red chilli powder and jaggery powder to the sundal. Adjust the quantity of dosamilagai podi you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.
7. If you have sundal podi ready, you may use it in the above recipe, instead of the dosa milagai podi.
8. The water used to cook the beans in is rich in nutrients. Do not discard it. This water can be used to make rasam, soups and gravy-based dishes.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!
The husband was in Sikkim earlier this year on an official get-together, and he told me endless stories about the place on his return. He loved the Sikkimese momos especially, the many varieties that are available. I was intrigued by his descriptions of the yellow chutney served alongside momos by the streetside in Sikkim, Momo Achaar in local parlance. In Bangalore, we only get a spicy red chutney with momos, so this was new and interesting.
So, this yellow Momo Achaar was what I decided to make when Sikkimese cuisine was chosen as the theme for the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge this month. The Sikkimese follow a mostly non-vegetarian diet, with simple food made using minimal ingredients. That said, the food is hearty and delicious, several locally grown spices, herbs, greens and vegetables featuring in the dishes.
Coming back to the Momo Achaar, I made it using this recipe from Healthy RecipeHome as the base, with a few little changes here and there. Peanuts are the major ingredient in this chutney, which tastes absolutely delightful. I kept it mildly spicy with a hint of sourness, and it went beautifully with not just the momos I prepared, but also with rotis, parathas, dosas and idlis. You have to try this out, if you haven’t already! The husband loved it to bits and said it tasted exactly like the chutney he had had in Sikkim, I’m happy to report.
Luckily, the two secret ingredients my partner Aruna gave me for the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge – garlic and peanuts – were just right for me to make this chutney. On that note, you must check out Aruna’s blog, Vasu’s Veg Kitchen, a treasure trove of well-explained recipes from around the globe. Look at the beautiful dish that Aruna made using the two secret ingredients I assigned her!
1. Peel the ginger and chop roughly. Peel the garlic cloves. Peel off the skin of the onion and chop roughly. Chop the green chillies and tomato roughly, too. Keep aside.
2. Dry roast the peanuts and sesame seeds together, on medium flame, till they start turning brown and crunchy. Take care to ensure that they do not burn. Transfer to a plate. Keep aside.
3. In the same pan, add in the oil. Then, add the chopped ginger and onion, garlic cloves and the dry red chillies. Saute on medium flame till the onion starts to brown, 2-3 minutes.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes and green chillies to the pan too. Cook on medium flame till the tomatoes turn mushy, 2-3 minutes. Switch off gas and allow all the cooked ingredients to cool down fully.
5. When all the cooked ingredients have entirely cooled down, transfer to a mixer jar. Add in salt to taste, turmeric powder, roasted cumin powder, chopped coriander, lemon juice to taste and a little water. Grind everything together to a smooth paste.
6. Mix in honey to taste, if using.
7. Allow the chutney to cool down fully before transferring it to a clean, dry, air-tight container. Store refrigerated when not in use.
1. I have used country (Nati) tomatoes here, for the beautiful flavour and tartness they impart. If these are not available, you may use the ‘farm’ variety of tomatoes.
2. I have used dry Bydagi red chillies here, for the lovely colour they give to the dish, without adding too much spiciness.
3. Adjust the quantity of dry red chillies and green chillies you use, depending upon how spicy you want the chutney to be. The above quantities yield a medium-spicy chutney.
4. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the chutney you prefer.
5. Using the honey is purely optional.
6. White vinegar can be used in place of the lemon juice in this momo chutney. I have used lemon juice here.
7. This chutney stays well for up to a week when refrigerated and used hygienically.
8. Make sure all the cooked ingredients have completely cooled down, before grinding them.
9. I didn’t remove the skins from the peanuts before grinding.
10. You may reduce the quantity of peanuts you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.
11. Traditional Sikkimese recipes suggest the use of soyabeans, the local Timur peppers and green Dalle chillies in this Momo Chutney. Each of these ingredients adds a special flavour and fragrance to the chutney. I didn’t have any of these, so I have omitted the soyabeans and Timur completely and used ordinary green chillies in place of the Dalle.
Did you like this recipe? Please do tell me in your comments!