Northern Thai food
The Lanna Thai kingdom of Thailand.
Like its customs, languageand architecture, northern Thailand
as a cusisine that is largely distinct - one more aspect of everyday
life that contributes to the flavour of independent culture. It
certainly contrasts with cantral Thai cokking and many of the really
typical local dishes are impossible to find in Bangkok, but the
influences of neighbouring regions are clearly felt. As in so many
northern temples, the food has an overlay of much that is Laotian
The stample of the Lanna diet is not the soft, fragrant
boiled rice of the Central Plains but is "sticky rice", a
different strain. Known locally as "Khaaw niow", cooking is
by steaming, and eating is by fingers, each person kneading
successive small handfuls into a small ball to scoop up food from
Sticky rice is essentially Laotian, as are also the special
spicy dips of the North. Known generically as "Nam phrik",
these are found all over Thailand, but the North has its unique
Nam phrik ong is relatively mild, made with
minced pork and tomatoes and sometimes unkindly referred to as "Thai
spaghetti sauce; an essential accompaniment is crispy pork skin
Nam phrik num is more fiery, begin
principally a bowl of pounded young green chillies that are a few
Nam phrik tadaeng ('Redeye Dip") is made from
dried re chillies and should also be approached with caution.
(Advice for sensitive palates: a mouthful of rice is a more
effective emergency treatment for a chilli attack than a glass of
Burmese influence can be tasted in two of the North's most
famous dishes - Gaeng hang ley and Khao soi.
ley is a thick pork curry, slightly sweetish, made with a
distinctive combination of ginger, tamarind, turmeric, and
Khao soi is an egg-noodle luncheon dish with a
lavish helping of thick curry broth and chicken, pork or beef as
preferred. Its essential toppings are shallots, pickled vegetables
(phak dong), and wedges of lime.
Northern food is not only regional cooking, but also country
cooking strong on flavours that are robust rather than delicate. Few
edible sources are rejected, as a stroll around any market will
Though not typical restaurant fare, the ubiquitous water
buffalo makes a culinary appearance as Laap. This chopped
meat dish, garnished with pulverized rice, chillies, and other
spices, including mint, is at its most traditional when eaten raw;
the slightly bitter taste discernable in a genuine.
add to the exoticism of Lanna cusisine - withness the giant water
beetles called Maengda for sale is the markets with their
legs neatly tied. When pounded in a mortar and put into dishes they
impart and aromatic, perfumed flavour reminiscent of pear-drops, but
they can also be eaten whole, as a crunchy snack (if your visit is
out of season, look for the pickled Maengda).
even more localized specialities within the North Thailand.