Thai food is internationally famous and certainly among the top cuisines of the world. The main principle behind every dish is the harmony it presents, from mouth searing chilli hot curries to comparatively bland ones. And you do not have to be in Bangkok to get your fill of it. Restaurants specialising in Thai cuisine can be found all over the world, both as street food and fine dining experience.
The cuisine is essentially a mix of Eastern and Western influences dating back to centuries. Traditional Thai cooking was restricted to stewing, baking and grilling but later Chinese type of cooking was blended into it and now includes frying, stir frying and deep frying. The Portuguese, Dutch, French and Japanese also moulded Thai cuisine from the 17th century onwards. In fact, chillies were introduced into Thai cuisine in the late 1600s by Portuguese missionaries who had acquired a taste of them during their stint in South Africa.
Thai food is characterised by its ability to suit all palates and the flavour of a dish can depend specifically on who is cooking it, occasion and for whom it is being cooked. Originally, Thai cuisine reflected the demographics of the country with ingredients such as aquatic animals, plants and herbs reflecting a waterborne lifestyle.
Large chunks of meat were not originally a part of Thai cuisine primarily because of Buddhist influence that forbade use of large animals in big chunks. Big cuts of meat were cut into small pieces and shredded and laced with herbs and spices. Even though sizeable chunks of meat can now be seen in Thai cuisine these dishes are not very common. This is the reason why the use of a knife is not necessary while eating Thai food and a fork and a spoon is usually enough. Single dish meals such as steamed rice with roast duck or fried rice with pork are served in small chunks or bite sized pieces, eliminating the need for a knife.
A traditional Thai meal usually consists of a soup, a curry dish and a dip that is accompanied by vegetables and fish. Often a spicy salad replaces the curry dish. If the soup that is served in the beginning is spicy, the subsequent curry dish is replaced with something that is non-spicy to balance things out. This is the reason why a typical Thai meal has an element of harmony between all the individual dishes without any one over powering flavour.
Thai cuisine is now one of the most sought after food today, regardless of the country you might be in.