5 Things You Must Eat in Bangkok

People never believed us when we insisted that the main agenda of our Bangkok trip was going to be food. Being a lover of Pan Asian cuisine, it was imperative that a holiday in Bangkok meant trying a lot of Thai food. Even with millions of tourists flocking every month and season, Thai and Chinese cuisine is more popular in the city than Global fast food chains for people who wouldn’t venture out of their comfort zone. Does that imply we didn’t try the amazing Samurai Pork Burger in McDonald’s or Beef Whopper in Burger King? Of course, we did! They were cheap and totally unavailable in India, which made themselves land into our list of items to try. But they aren’t eligible to be featured into these 5 must eats from Thai cuisine. These are nutritious, delicious and well within your budget if you’re a traveller like me and M. We love to explore the local cuisine of any place we visit, rather than sit in boutique hotels and sample gourmet food.

Eat all Thai :)

Eat all Thai 🙂

We recommend these must eat treats once you’re in Bangkok –

Spring Roll and Pad Thai – These two aren’t served together, but they’re often in close proximity. Thai Spring Rolls are probably one of the few vegetarian appetisers that we love. Crisp on the outside with a moist filling of veggies, always freshly fried and served with a sweet chilli sauce – Spring Rolls are a must on the streets of Bangkok. They provide a quick snack break, satiate your taste buds and come as cheap as 30 THB per plate. We’ve had the best ones at a stall on Khao San Road and it’s the best way to fill your stomach before you start partying.

spring-rolls

Vegetable Spring Rolls

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Arandhan – The Day No One Cooked

Image source: Kolkata Blog

Image source: Kolkata Blog

Tomorrow is Vishwakarma Puja in Bengal. While every other festival appears on different dates each year depending on its tithi, Vishwakarma Puja has rooted itself deeply on 17th September and never budges. It’s an enigma created many decades ago and Bengal has been following it religiously since. Vishwakarma has been considered as the divine architect, the God of Engineers and machines. If you are in Bengal on 17th September, you’ll easily spot this good looking deity being worshipped in every factory, press, manufacturing unit and even in rickshaw stands. While other idols sport some weapon or the other in their hand(s), Lord Vishwakarma is proudly flanked by a kite! His arrival brightens up the autumn sky with vibrant kites (that have a name each based on their designs) that look like confetti spread all over the canopy.

But this is not an article about Vishwakarma Puja. It’s about an age old custom associated with the festival – Arandhan (no cooking). It is celebrated in the month of Bhadra, on the auspicious day of Vishwakarma Puja. Typically, the custom involves no cooking on heat for the day. Every item was cooked the day before and stored in earthen utensils to protect them from rotting in the autumn heat. The culmination of the month of Bhadra implies the end of monsoon and onset of autumn in the next month of Ashwin. Arandhan serves the purpose of cleaning up the household after rains and offer a platter of the choicest foods from monsoon to Ma Manasa (goddess of snakes). I think this ritual originated in rural Bengal to protect people from the wrath of Manasa and her army of snakes. Until my generation came into being, our families used earthen stoves (unoon/chulha) before the advent of LPG. After cooking up a storm for Arandhan, the stoves and kitchen were cleaned to perfection. A platter was served on earthenware and offered to Ma Manasa, symbolised by a clay pot placed beside the stove.

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Fish and Bliss

There is a lesson that the age old Bangla cuisine teaches us – prudence. One might not easily believe it, given the history and evolution of the elaborate Daab Chingri and the uber rich Sorshe Ilish. But it is not every day that you sacrifice puddles of oil to cook Golda Chingri or grind mounds of mustard seeds on your sheel nora (oh, forget that already, there’s the ubiquitous pungent branded mustard powder). It is the daily fare – the humble Rui and Katla that we so lovingly call Kata Pona, omnipresent in the Bangali kitchen in its various avatars. Shove aside the runny machher jhol with potol or a subtle garlic tomato machher torkari that finds its way in the morning platter of rice before heading for school/college or offices. If you live outside Bengal and crave for something fishy and spicy apart from the jhol or jhaal, you’re in for a treat with just three pieces of fish. If you have a kid at home, or an overgrown one like my better half, this will bring lakes of smile on their faces.

fish chop

#BanglaKhabar

Since my father lived away from home and Bengal for a considerable period, the cooking bug in him became fairly active. I’ve heard stories of him quizzing the cook in his college hostel kitchen for quaint Bangla vegetarian recipes. He reproduced them later, and more importantly, taught my mother most of it after marriage. Stationed in Kanpur for twenty years, baba would crave for the crispy hot aromatic Fish Chop (croquette) among other telebhaja that rule our province. Fish or mutton chops weren’t frequent in every telebhaja shop in Calcutta as the non-vegetarianism in them would make the harmless Aloo or Mochar Chop untouchable to a lot of people.

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From the Land of Usal, Misal and Pav

Thukpa at Shaolin in Pune

Thukpa at Shaolin in Pune

When we moved to Pune from Hyderabad, we were quite apprehensive about the food. While Mumbai and Hyderabad are considered food heavens with choices to die for, Pune was known to be low key without many options, and most of them vegetarian. While we’re strictly non-vegetarians and big foodies, we did eat in vegetarian restaurants (mostly when other options were sparse)!

After relocating to Pune, we began house hunting. It was a tedious job and we looked for places to eat in Pune after toiling whole day visiting apartments for rent. Since our areas of target were in the outskirts, it was more difficult to find restaurants of our choice. Hyderabad had literally spoilt us crazy with its food platter and spice buckets. Pune seemed more toned down and traditional. Though the traditional Maharashtrian food is far from bland, it’s spicy and blazing hot. While M loves the Misal Pav, I’m more for Pav Bhaji and Vada Pav. The idea of slathering dry sev into the spicy gravy and mopping it up with buns, somehow didn’t appeal me.

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Stay, Ask and Order!

Can you recall the last time you had ordered food while surfing the internet? Isn’t it only a few days back when you decided to pick some takeaway food on your way back from office? It happens with all of us these days. Stress is gradually consuming our days, nights and peace of mind. And there are times when we relent to our circumstances and the all-encompassing pressure of multitasking.

I’ve been through days when I’ve been writing for an assignment throughout the day, with intermittent coffee and munch breaks. Later in the evening after I submit, my psyche goes on a toss and I tend to slump down. Coincidentally, if my better half is late from office the same day, we are left with no choice but to order food online or pick up a takeaway in Kolkata or call for home delivery. One of these days while browsing through various websites to order, I found Askme dot com.

Image Courtesy: Askme dot com

Image Courtesy: Askme dot com

The inquisitive me landed on their plush yet simple website andcruised through the home delivery page. I punched in my preferred area within Kolkata and the type of food I wanted. The page offered me a range of choices to spoil, with their menus, ratings, photos and reviews. The search takes a few seconds, so does the order. Askme has a very easy contact number to memorise in case you want to rest your eyes and step away from the computer. Dial their number and describe your preference for them to suggest and place the order for home delivery in Kolkata.

So, the next time hunger consumes you and leaves no time for cooking or even assembling food particles together in a dish, pick up your phone, dial Askme’s number and order your choice of fodder. I’ve been sceptical to order food online in Kolkata but Askme has provided an easy-peasy portal for everyone to explore the options, choose the most relevant and wanted ones and just click.

Remember, your food is just a click or call away from you. Celebrate any occasion, even your tiredness or a stressful day with something exotic or just your favourite pizza.