JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar invited us to try out their Thai spread last week. To celebrate Thai cuisine and its varied delicacies, Chef Rungtiwa Sorlae, rustled up some Thai regulars, cooked in her inimitable style and with a lot of love. When I met her, she greeted me with a warm smile and we chatted over some Tom Yum cashews (her original recipe), which will make for a crackling companion with some cold beer. The buffet was extensive and it started with a boatful (yes, there was an actual boat) of indigenous Thai fruits, spicy salads, flavoursome soups, curries, khao soi, main courses with exotic vegetables, chicken and pork and quirky desserts. Here’s a selection of five must-try Thai dishes – and you know where to head to for them.
Som tam salad (spicy snakebean and green papaya salad with crushed peanuts)
It is the perfect palate cleanser and I personally feel more salads should be spicy and sweet-sour rather than the regular dressings and heavy cheese-related flavours. The flavours burst in your mouth, the salad is light and healthy and the crunch from the peanuts is, well, fun. And that is saying something about a salad, you know? You can also get the Som Tam with proteins but I would suggest to keep it clean and light.
Classic Thai green curry
Spices, coconut cream, lemon, Thai ginger, herbs, chicken-lamb-prawns – what’s not to like? The trick is to get the perfect balance of flavours so that nothing overpowers the other. And that is not as easy as it might seem because Thai curries are doused in ingredients and if you go wrong with the measurements, it can be too creamy or too sour or too…well, you get the drift.
A personal favourite, you can never go wrong with some good homely khao soi. Traditionally Burmese, the Thai version of the noodle soup has sour elements like lime and pickled shallots which makes it a lighter dish. The consistency is thinner than the regular yellow or massaman curries. Khao soi is a meal in a bowl – and is a much healthier option for those of you addicted to cuppa noodles.
Crispy pork with sweet jus and fried kale leaves
The star of the Marriott Sahar’s Thai menu is this succulent pork delicacy. Crispy-caramelised pork skin, tender meat and creamy pork fat cooked in a flavoursome jus with kale leaves and red chillies, this is what soul food is all about. I might be treading into blasphemous territory here, but I could forget my daily fix of bacon for this bad boy.
They don’t look like pancakes at all. These baby cups with peach, corn and spring onion pieces (say what now?) is a sweet ending to a meal. No, they might not be sinful debauchery but for those of us trying to sneak in a dessert and not add a kilo, Thai pancakes are heaven sent.