Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) is a yellow colored spice native to South Asia. It is the main spice in curry and the ingredient that gives the intense yellow color to mustard. It is commonly used in Indian, Iranian and Pakistani cuisine.
Turmeric has been listed on Google’s 2016 Food Trends Report as top trending food with a function and was named no.1 “rising star”. This indicates that the number of people searching and trying to understand how to use turmeric is increasing. And for a good reason.
Studies have shown that turmeric is the most powerful plant at fighting and preventing diseases. It is also the most studied medicinal plant currently, leaving garlic, ginger, ginseng and cinnamon behind. Its healing compound curcumin has been proven to be more effective than many prescription drugs in the treatment of various diseases and conditions, including depression.
Turmeric for Depression
The numbers say that one in ten adult Americans suffers from depression. The fact that depression is expected to become the world’s second leading cause of disability by 2020 is even more startling, bearing in mind that it is the most common cause of suicidal deaths in young people.
The standard treatment for this mental illness are prescription drugs. The problem is that antidepressants have many adverse side effects, including anxiety, diabetes, seizures, sexual dysfunction, even coma and death. These side effects cause many patients to give up therapy and accept their illness as part of their life and never achieve full remission.
New studies show that curcumin has the same antidepressant benefits as the standard antidepressant medication without the side effects.
Here is how turmeric works against depression:
- Boosts neurotransmitters such as dopamine (improving pleasure and emotion), norepinephrine (learning, attentiveness, and sleeping) and serotonin (mood, sleep, appetite, memory, sexual functioning) in the brain;
- Prevents progressive neurodegeneration (loss of the function of brain neurons), which often occurs along with depression;
- Acts as an anti-oxidant. Depression can be caused by brain oxidative stress, which is caused by oxygen and glucose deficiency in the brain. Curcumin fights free radicals, repairs the damage caused by free radicals and increases the antioxidant levels in the body;
- Controls inflammation, which has been linked to depression, by inhibiting compounds that produce chronic inflammation.
Other Health Benefits of Turmeric
Besides its antidepressant benefits, curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties provide additional health benefits. Turmeric can be used for prevention and treatment of the following conditions:
- Cancer. Curcumin in turmeric inhibits the growth and development of cancer cells and is most effective in the treatment of breast cancer, colon cancer, stomach cancer, and skin cancer;
- Arthritis. Studies have shown that curcumin is more beneficial than the standard arthritis medication due to the absence of side effects that can result in heart disease;
- Diabetes. Curcumin lowers blood sugar and controls hyperglycemia and insulin resistance, which can help reverse Type 2 diabetes;
- High cholesterol. Standard drugs that lower cholesterol levels can harm the liver and the kidneys. Curcumin, on the other hand, addresses the root causes for increased cholesterol levels – oxidative stress and inflammation;
- Osteoporosis. Curcumin inhibits the growth of inflammatory cells that damage the cartilage and the bones and result in osteoporosis. Patients that received curcumin therapy showed decreased joint pain and increased joint function;
- Chronic pain. Curcumin is more frequently prescribed instead corticosteroids and pain-killers in the management of chronic diseases and chronic pain. It affects the opioid system in the brain which is responsible for pain relieve and has no side effects whatsoever.
How to Consume Turmeric
Turmeric supplements can be found in the form of capsules, fluid extracts or tinctures. These supplements should be taken with caution because higher doses may cause complications in pregnant and lactating women, as well as in people suffering from diabetes and gallstones.
The best and safest way to consume turmeric is in its natural form, as a powdery spice. There is no specific dosage, but 1 teaspoon or 5-6g a day has been proven helpful.
You can add turmeric to both sweet and savory dishes, as well as drinks, such as:
- Turmeric tea
- Turmeric milk
- Banana bread
- Scrambled eggs
- Sautéed vegetables
- Fish and meat
To sum up, turmeric is one of the most beneficial foods. Its most powerful ingredient is curcumin, which helps treat and prevent various conditions, such as depression, with no adverse side effects. Turmeric can be used in various dishes to satisfy your daily needs.
Turmeric, or the miracle spice, is a yellow Indian spice that comes from the plant Curcuma longa in the form of a powdered rhizome. It is the central spice in curry, so it is no surprise that it is native to southern Asia.
Besides being the main ingredient in Bangladeshi, Indian, and Pakistani cuisine, these past few years its presence is more noticeable in the western cuisine and medicine.
But its vibrant yellow color and the distinctive scent are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to its properties.
The Curcuma longa contains the linear diarylheptanoid, curcuminoid, which not only gives the turmeric its yellow color, but it is the source of its medicinal properties.
Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric is a cure-all.
In fact, over 6000 studies are currently engaged in researching curcumin and its benefits, and findings that in comparison with conventional medicine turmeric is equally or even more powerful, don’t lack.
Turmeric can help with anything from arthritis, to heartburn (dyspepsia), from stomach pain and diarrhea to gallbladder disorders.
Turmeric as a Pain Reliever
It has long been spoken of the role of turmeric as a pain reliever. Its ability to manage pain has been supported by many a research, and it turns out that the curcumin activates the opioid receptors in the brain, which in turn leads to a pain-relieving response.
This is why whenever you are experiencing a headache, have menstrual cramps, stomach ache or any other type of ache that is too strong to handle and too mild for painkillers, prepare some turmeric tea.
And even for more severe cases, such as with burn victims, the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research advocates for the use of curcumin instead of the conventional possibly dangerous opioids and painkillers. Yet another proof that turmeric is a better remedy than the commercially available ones.
Turmeric Tea Recipes
All of the below given recipes have one thing in common: They are Effective. So choosing one is only a matter of preference.
Remember to always go for a good quality turmeric powder or use grated fresh turmeric root for your tea.
This is basically a staple recipe, the tangy flavors of the lemon and ginger complement the spiciness of the cayenne pepper.
1 cup of boiling water
1/8 tablespoon ground ginger
1/8 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Honey to taste
- Turmeric Tea with a Twist
The cinnamon gives this tea a delicious scent, while simultaneously enhancing its health benefits.
2 cups of boiling water
1 lemongrass tea bag
2-teaspoon ground turmeric
1-inch fresh ginger root
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
If you want to drink a tea without the watery sensation, then go for this coconut milk recipe. Ingredients
1 cup coconut milk
½ teaspoon turmeric
A pinch cayenne pepper
½ inch finely chopped ginger root
1 ½ teaspoon of honey (or stevia)
Exotic and incredibly healthy, the turmeric got the nickname miracle spice with a reason!
“You have to taste a culture to understand it.” – Deborah Cater
When it comes to aromatic and flavorful food, Indian cuisine is unmatched.
Once you try it, you are hooked! The amazing layering of flavors, exotic ingredients, the use of spices, and unfamiliar dishes that go together so harmoniously… all these traits make Indian cuisine uniquely delicious!
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Guided by the motto “I don’t want to look back and think ‘I could’ve eaten that’”, the MyGreatRecipes team has set a goal to taste and make as many different dishes from around the world. Today, we’re traveling to India. Interested? Curry on!
Indian Cuisine 101
India is a vast country, a home to many ethnic groups and cultures that form the patchwork regional cuisines. The various flavors and eating habits are also dictated by the climate and soil in the region, availability of ingredients, but also the people’s religious traditions.
For instance, Hinduism considers cows sacred animals and beef is forbidden in Hindu communities. Vaishnavism followers avoid eating garlic and onion, whereas Muslims don’t eat pork. Jains are strict vegetarians who, besides excluding meat from their diet, also avoid root vegetables like potatoes.
In fact, large portions of the population in India are vegetarians. The judicious use of sauces and spices added to potatoes, eggplants, cauliflowers, peas, cheeses, and breads makes India a truly vegetarian-friendly country!
History has also influenced different regional cuisines in the country. The records that go back to the 6200 BC give us an insight in the early diet in the Indian subcontinent. It consisted mainly of vegetables, fruits, dairy, honey, and legumes.
In the past, India was a focal point of traders from Europe and Asia who, along with foreign invaders and colonists, introduced a number of important ingredients. For instance, tea was introduced during the Middle Ages, along with new cooking techniques. When India was invaded by Central Asian tribes, the two cuisines blended and created the Mughlai cuisine, in which saffron is one of the central ingredients.
Indian Salmon Curry with Saffron Rice
Believe it or not, chili peppers were brought by the Portuguese from the Americas, together with potatoes which today are a staple food in many Indian regions!
The bottom line: Indian cuisine is a fusion of regional palettes of flavors and and the only thing that connects them is the elaborate and skillful use of spices!
Indian Staple Foods
Spices & Flavorings
Let’s start with what makes Indian cuisine unique – spices. There are about 20 to 30 basic spices that are frequently used in many recipes. The beauty of spices is that, besides contributing amazing flavor, they’re also very healthy. You have surely heard of turmeric being one of the healthiest foods on the planet, helping treat and prevent various chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease!
Roasted Potatoes with East Indian Spices
The most important spices and flavorings are chili powder, turmeric, cumin, ginger, coriander, black mustard seed, cardamom, asafetida, and garlic. Garam masala is a popular powdered spice mix that blends together dried cinnamon, cardamom, and clove although each region has its own version of garam masala. Goda masala is another frequently used spice mix which is a bit sweeter.
Indian Style Lentils with Pork Tenderloin
When it comes to herbs, their most used parts are the leaves, in particular, mint, bay, fenugreek, and coriander leaves. In the southern parts of the country, curry leaves and roots are also widely used.
Desserts and sweets are richly spiced as well, usually with cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, clove saffron, and rose petal essential oils.
Indian Spiced Nuts
Oils & Butters
Vegetable oil is the most common choice for cooking in India. Butter ghee (dashi) was popular in the past but it seems to have decreased in popularity at the expense of other types of oils like hydrogenated vegetable oil (Vanaspati ghee). Certain regions seem to favor certain oils:
– peanut oil – western and northern parts
– coconut oil – western parts (Kerala)
– mustard oil – eastern parts
– sesame oil – southern parts
Grains, Beans & Pulses
Pearl millet was one of the earliest staple foods in India that remains popular to date. That’s a very long time to love something! Indian people also love whole wheat flour, rice, and especially lentils. Lentils seem to appear everywhere around you, in various shapes and colors – red lentils, black gram, green gram, mung beans, whole or, the most commonly used type, split (known as dal).
Chicken and Rice with Coconut Milk and Pistachio
Green Lentils Soup with Curried Brown Butter
The northern regions favor pulses like chickpeas, kidney beans, and black-eyed peas. Some pulses are used to obtain flour called besan.
Indian Cauliflower Fried Rice With Chicken and Roasted Chickpeas
Many types of meat are used in Indian cuisine, but chicken and mutton are most prevalent. The north-east and the coastal areas also cook with beef and fish.
Spiced Pork Samosas
Eating Habits & Etiquette
In India, breakfast is very important and is usually combined with coffee or tea. What people eat for breakfast depends on the region:
– North India – roti or parathas flatbreads and a vegetable dish, accompanied by pickles and curd;
– South India prefer idli (savory cake made of black lentils) and dosa pancakes accompanied by a chutney;
– West India – dhokla (food made of fermented batter derived from rice and chickpeas) with milk.
Samosa Potato Cakes with Green Chutney
There is something called ‘evening breakfast’ in India, which is an equivalent of the English tea time when the family sits to talk with tea and snacks.
Lunch & Dinner
Lunch consists of a main dish which is based on whole wheat flatbread in the north or rice in the south. It is typically combined with up to three types of veggies and bread.
Dinner is considered as the main meal of the day.
Eating Habits & Etiquette
Indian cuisine is the best proof that you don’t need a fork in order to eat good food! Hands are the main tool– the left hand is used to serve yourself, whereas the right one is used for eating. Alternatively, flatbreads or savory crepes are used to scoop dishes that are too liquid, like curry.
In the southern parts, food is served on banana leaves which are disposed of after the meal. This custom is less common today, except on special occasions.
In the past, food was eaten while seated on the floor or on low stools. However, throughout the years, eating habits have been influenced by other cultures. For instance, the Anglo-Indians often use western cutlery to eat their food.
Desserts & Beverages
Indian desserts are called mithai. They are usually fried delights that contain milk & sugar in the base. Other ingredients vary depending on the region. What all sweet treats have in common throughout the whole country is the extensive inclusion of spices, as well as nuts. The most popular Indian desserts include:
– gulab jamun, spongy milk-based balls soaked in syrup;
– laddu, balls made of flour, sugar, and minced dough
– jalebi, deep-fried maida flour batter in shaped like pretzels or circles, soaked in sugar syrup;
– puto, steamed rice cake;
– sutarfeni sweet, flaky rice flour roasted in ghee, blended with melted sugar to form a cotton candy, then topped with chopped nuts.
– pinni, a winter dessert made of wheat flour, desi ghee, jaggery and almonds, sometimes raisins.
Betel leaves are often served with desserts after meals to aid digestion.
Coffee is very popular in India, especially in the southern parts. The two most consumed coffee varieties are instant coffee and filter coffee.
With India being one of the largest producers of tea in the world, it’s no surprise tea is a staple beverage. Tea leaves are boiled in water, then combined with milk and spices like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamom. During ‘evening breakfast’, tea is usually served along with snacks such as pakora (an onion-based deep fried snack made with chickpea flour, salt, and light spices) or biscuits.
Lassi is a traditional drink based on yogurt. The yogurt is combined with water and various spices like cumin and saffron. There are also savory versions of this drink that include salt. Other popular lassi flavorings include sugar, lemon, mango, peach, strawberry, and rose water.
Peach and Buttermilk Lassi
The love for rose flavoring is also evident in sherbats. These sweet cold beverages are made from fruits or flower petals (rose, bel, lemon, orange, pineapple, etc.). Besides being utterly tasty and refreshing, sherbats are believed to be very healthy. Rose milk and rose water are also used in the making of other popular drinks like gholi soda.
Other widely consumed non-alcoholic beverages include coconut water, lemonade, and badam doodh (almond milk with cardamom and nuts).
Coconut Water Iced Coffee
When it comes to alcoholic beverages, the beer takes the central stage as the most popular choice, especially lagers. There is also local beer called ‘hadia’, made of rice and herbs. This beer is quite low in alcohol and often served very cold. Chaang is another beverage similar to beer, made from millet, barley, or rice. This beverage is served cold in summer and hot in winter.
Besides beer and beer-like beverages, Indians also like fenny, a beverage made from cashew apple juice or coconuts. Coconut is the main ingredient in ‘kallu’, an alcoholic beverage often consumed with fried chicken or fish.
Cooking Indian Food at Home
The fact that the restaurant industry is in demand for fresh, high-quality foods and diverse ethnic flavors is great news for all of us foodies. This means that the number of Indian restaurants will continue to rise. But before you venture to eat out, why not give Indian food a try at home?
Incorporating the tastes of India in your kitchen is not difficult at all. Start by including Indian spices and flavorings into familiar recipes like chicken, fish, and roasted veggies. Try with one spice like chili powder, then add another one like cumin or ginger. The point is, you don’t have to buy 20 spices from the beginning.
Next step, choose simple Indian food recipes to start with. Look for those based on potatoes or meat that usually have fewer ingredients. The wide array of spices and condiments allows you to play and experiment.
Crispy Indian Spiced Potato Wedges
Need an idea? Start with a curry. Despite popular belief, not all Indian dishes are curries. Curry is a common name for all spicy meat or vegetable dishes with sauces. Messing up a curry is difficult because they appear in many different forms – dry or liquid, red or green, hot, hotter, or hottest. So, to start with, throw together a simple chicken curry and serve it a rot flatbread and some dal.
Creamy Chicken Curry
Isn’t this a great way to freshen up your daily dinner repertoire?
Indian Restaurants in the US
Unlike other national cuisines, Indian cuisine seems to be quite undervalued in the States. According to Washington Post, there are over 40.000 Mexican restaurants throughout the country and almost the same number of Chinese restaurants. But when it comes to Indian restaurants, this number goes as low as 5.000 in total.
Why is it so? Certainly not for the lack of deliciousness! Experts claim that it’s the prices. Indian food requires higher culinary skills to be prepared and that is why it is more expensive. Cheap Indian dishes are usually not as tasty and once people try such low-quality dishes lose interest in the cuisine in general.
However, this is about to change. Thanks to experiment-prone millennials, Indian food is the rise. In 2007, a survey conducted by the Washington Post showed that over 1.200 Indian food products have been imported in the US since 2000.
The number of Indian restaurants in nation-wide is constantly increasing, with the most represented regional cuisines are the North and South Indian. The best part is that even standard restaurants have started to introduce Indian dishes to their menus! It is expected Indian food to be one of the hottest 2017 food trends!
However, the dishes are adapted to western tastes which generally means they are not as spicy as their original recipes.
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So, if you are still hesitant about trying Indian food at home (despite all these amazing recipes and cooking tips), you’d better google “best Indian restaurant near me” and start exploring. Feeling lazy? Try “Indian food delivery”, sit back, and relax!
Here is a list of the best Indian restaurants to give you a kick start:
Indian restaurant near me Las Vegas – Delhi Indian Cuisine
Indian restaurant near me Chicago – Indian Garden Restaurant
Indian restaurant near me Atlanta – Aamar Indian Cuisine
Indian restaurant near me Tampa – Saffron Indian Cuisine
Indian restaurant near me Tucson – Gandhi Cuisine of India
On the global gastronomy map, Thai cuisine certainly stands out with its specific set of cooking traditions, styles of preparation, variety of ingredients, as well as its distinct meals. No wonder it is very popular in the Western world.
In 2011, CNN Travel conducted an online poll that resulted in the “World’s 50 Best Foods” list. This list contained seven Thai dishes. There was no other country with more representatives on the list than Thailand! This year, six Thai dishes are among the best in the world, with Massaman curry hitting the top position!
Beef Massaman Curry
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The stir-fried noodle dish Pad Thai and the spicy, Thai fried rice, green curry, and sour shrimp soup Tom Yum Goong are probably among the best-known representatives of Thai cuisine. But have you heard of less popular dishes like Pad Mama? And did you know that Thai people don’t use chopsticks when eating? Do you know which food is considered sacred in Thailand?
Vegetable Pad Thai
Tom Yum Goong
Thai food is mouthwatering indeed but not many of us really know about its importance in Thailand’s culture.
It’s time to explore the amazing world of Thai food!
The History of Thai Food
Thai cuisine is the national cuisine of Thailand. Thai chefs aspire towards three features in their recipes: balance, variety, and detail. This means that the food should look as good as it tastes. Colors, texture, appearance, smell, all these traits complement the rich, spicy flavor of Thai food which, on top of everything else, should also contain ingredients with strong medical properties.
Thai cuisine and the culinary traditions have been largely influenced by the neighboring countries, the ethnic groups that live in the country (over 40), as well as western missions in the past. All these have resulted in a number of regional variations of certain dishes. Thai cuisine can be categorized into five regional groups:
- Northern Thai cuisine shows similarities with Laos and Burma, whereas the northeastern cuisine is similar to that of Laos, with minor influences from Cambodia and Vietnam.
- Southern Thai cuisine was influenced by India, Indonesia, and Malaysia, which is shown in the use of ingredients like curry, turmeric, and coconut milk.
- Central Thai cuisine is also known as Royal cuisine and characterizes with great refinement, as well as artistic presentation of the food.
- Bangkok cuisine was under the influence of Chinese and Portuguese cuisines. In fact, many popular Thai dishes, like chok Thai and salapao, were originally Chinese dishes, mostly introduced starting from the 15th century. The Chinese also introduced some staple ingredients like noodles, tofu, and soy sauces but also wok pans, together with the stir-frying and deep-frying techniques. Baking as a cooking technique does not exist in Thailand and most of the household don’t even own ovens.
The Portuguese arrived in the 16th century and are credited for several Thai adaptations of traditional Portuguese dishes like foi thong, where coconut milk replaces cow’s milk in the custard.
During the Columbian Exchange, new crops were introduced from the Americas, the most important of which is probably chili. Other examples include corn, tomatoes, eggplants, peas, pineapple, papaya, pumpkin, peanuts, cashews, and cilantro.
Thai Food Staples
Like in most other Asian cuisines, rice is the staple ingredient of Thai cuisine. It is the first and most important element of every meal. ‘Khao’, the word used to refer to rise is also used to refer to food in general.
Historically, tens of thousands rice varieties have been grown in Thailand and they can be classified into two broad categories:
- Non-glutinous rice like the highly valued, long-grained jasmine rice, which is indigenous to Thailand. Non-glutinous rice is used mostly in the of making fried dishes.
Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce Over Sweet Potatoes and Jasmine Rice
- Sticky rice is a staple food in the northern and northeastern parts of the country. In Thailand, two sub-types of sticky rice are widely used: Thai red rice, with a nutty taste and slightly chewy, and black sticky rice, with rich nutty flavor and mostly used in dessert recipes.
Larb Muang Moo (Northern Thai Style Chopped Pork Salad
Thai people are quite superstitious when it comes to throwing leftovers away since the believe it would enrage the goddess of rice who makes sure everyone has enough to eat. Rice is considered sacred and it is believed that every grain has a divine element in it.
Rice is an integral part of khuluk, a dining practice that consists of mixing different dishes with rice. The food is moved with a fork held in the left hand into a spoon held in the right hand (instead of a knife) and then eaten. Sticky rice is often served shaped into small balls using the right hand only, then dipped into side dishes and eaten.
Rice flour and tapioca flour are often used in desserts or as thickening agents.
Crisp and Chewy Thai Fried Chive Cakes (Kanom Gui Chai)
Noodles are usually made of rice flour, wheat flour, or mung bean flour. Thai noodle dishes, whether stir fried or in the form of a noodle soup, usually come as individual servings and, contrary to Thai dining tradition, are not meant to be shared.
Slow Cooker Sesame Beef Noodle Bowls
Sauces are an indispensable part of Thai cuisine. There are many varieties but we’ve tried to narrow them down to five general categories:
Fish sauce is one of the ‘secret’ ingredients that gives Thai food recipes their unique taste. IT is made of fermented fish and appears in many varieties. Nam pla is a clear and aromatic fish sauce found in most Thai dishes. Another popular type of fish sauce is pla ra, which is opaque and contains pieces of fish.
Tai pla is a sharp sauce used in the southern Thai cuisine, made of fermented mackerel’s entrails. The northern parts use nam pu, a strong, dark paste made of mashed rice-paddy crabs. It is often used in salads, curries, and chili pastes.
Grilled Shrimp with Green Papaya and Mango Salad
Kapi is a shrimp paste made of fermented ground shrimp and salt. It is often used rice dishes and Thai curry pastes.
Yum Yin Gai (Spicy Northern Thai-Style Chicken Soup)
Thai chili pastes are very alike the Indian and Indonesian sambals. They appear in many different varieties and are usually served as dips.
Thai Red Curry Calamari Steak
Thai curry pastes are made of crushed chilies combined with other ingredients like shrimp paste and garlic. They are also served as dips for veggies, but some varieties can be used as spreads.
30 Minute Vegan Chickpea Curry
Thai soy sauces originate in China. They appear in many varieties: dark, light, oyster, and fermented soy sauces. They’re widely used in stir-fries.
Asian Pork Roast
Leaves, Herbs, and Spices
Thai food is known for its elaborate use of fresh herbs and spices, most of which cannot be found in western countries. Leaves and flowers also play an important part in authentic Thai food.
Kaffir lime leaves and zest appear in many soup recipes and curries, often combined with lemongrass or galangal.
Fresh Thai basil differs from basil used in the West by its purple color, among other features, and is used in dishes like green curry.
Thai Green Curry
Banana leaves are used as holders or steamer cups for foods, whereas banana flowers can be found in many salads and curry recipes. Flowers are widely used in Thai cuisine, either as a vegetable (eaten raw or fried) or as a food coloring.
Thai Style Spicy Chicken & Banana Blossom and Herb Salad
The most commonly used herbs are coriander leaves and roots, ginger, turmeric, pandanus leaves, fingerroot, lemon basil, etc.
Asian Meat Loaf
Commonly used spices in Thai food include curry powder, five-spice powder, and peppercorns. The northern parts of the country use a mixture of cumin, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, long pepper, and ash seeds.
Let’s not forget the chili. Thai cuisine uses five types of fresh chili which contribute different levels of hotness to dishes, in addition to two main types of dried chili.
Thai Chicken Chili
- Broccoli, the veggie that is often served in Western adaptations of Thai dishes, has never been used in traditional Thai food and is rarely included even in modern Thai recipes. Instead, it is substituted with khana, a veggie also known as Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale.
Vegetable Pad Thai
- When it comes to veggies, eggplant is certainly one of the most widely used ones.
Asian Grilled Eggplant with Soy Sesame Sauce
- Other vegetables commonly used in Thai cuisine are bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, sweet potatoes, Chinese cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, winged beans, corn, as well as several types of mushrooms.
Asian Chicken Casserole
Fresh fruits are served as dessert after the main meal, individually or along with a spicy dip made of chili, sugar, and salt. Fruits are also included in various dishes like soups, salads, and curries.
The most widely used fruits in Thailand are jackfruit, papaya, mango, mangosteen, durian, longan, langsat, rose apple, Burmese grapes, etc.
Thai Pineapple Chicken Satay
Coconut is one of the stars of Thai cuisine, especially the warm southern parts. Its products, coconut oil, coconut milk, as well as grated coconut flesh, are widely used in both savory and sweet recipes. Besides the nut itself, Thai people also eat the bud of the palm tree and use its sap to produce palm sugar, coconut vinegar, and alcoholic beverages.
Green Papaya Salad
Chicken Coconut Soup
Besides the above mentioned traditionally used fruits, Thailand has started importing some Western varieties like apples, pears, strawberries, grapes, and peaches, which have found their way in many Thai households, especially in the northern parts.
The most commonly used types of meat in Thai food are pork and chicken, but also beef, duck, and water buffalo. Wild game like deer, boar, and wild birds have decreased in popularity in the recent years at the expense of freshwater fish and seafood. In Muslim enclaves, mutton and goat meat prevail.
Coconut Curry Chicken
Certain insects are also eaten, especially in the North parts, where they’re sold on food markets. If you are brave enough, choose among grasshoppers, ant eggs, bee larvae, termites, and silkworms. Insects are usually sold deep-fried and, according to those who have tasted them, quite bland and similar to popcorn. That is why Thai chefs often complement them with herbs and spices.
The Importance of Thai Food
The importance of food in Thai culture is best explained by the fact that, whenever you meet a Thai person, the first thing they’ll ask is “Have you eaten yet?”
In Thailand, food takes the central stage of every social occasion. Moreover, food and eating are often considered a special occasion themselves, a reason to gather the family and celebrate. This is a result of Thai people’s mentality and friendliness, but it also has something to do with how the food is ordered and eaten.
Eating alone is considered bad luck in Thailand but if it has to be done, single dishes like noodle soups or fried rice are the best options. Alternatively, you can have smaller portions of stir fries or curries served together on a plate along with a portion of rice.
Serving Style and Etiquette
Unlike in the West, where each individual orders for him/herself, in Thailand the number of dishes ordered equals the number of people present and all dishes are shared. That is why Thai people prefer more people sitting on the table.
Thai meals typically consist of rice (Khao) with complementary dishes, all served at the same time. Traditionally, a meal should unite the four tastes in order to be considered satisfying: sweet, salty, sour, and spicy.
Meals consist of at least five elements:
- dip, the most crucial component of any Thai meal
- clear soup
- stew or curry and
- fried dish consisting of vegetables, meat, fish, or seafood.
In the past, Thai food was traditionally eaten with the right hand while seating the floor, but today people in Thailand mostly use forks and spoons, whereas knives are not used on the table. Also, unlike in China, bowls are used for soups only, while food is served on plates.
Thai people generally take very wholesome breakfasts that usually consist of the same dishes which are also eaten for lunch or dinner like rice porridge with pork, omelet, noodle soup, and chicken & rice.
Desserts and Snacks
Besides fruits and rice cakes, Thai cuisine offers unique desserts made of coconut cream, coconut flesh, and rice flour instead of wheat flour.
Thai Mango with Coconut Sticky Rice
The early versions of ice cream were made of coconut water mixed with ice. Since Thailand couldn’t produce ice, it had to be imported from Singapore. That’s why ice cream was enjoyed only by rich people who used coconut juice and tamarind. Things were made easier after the first ice cream machine was introduced to the country, after which coconut milk was used instead of coconut water.
Ice cream appeared in many different forms in Thailand like ice cream “tubes”, zinc tubes which held the ice cream ingredients and were shaken to solidify before being served on a stick. Another example is the “cut ice cream”, popular in the 1980s, which was sliced into rectangular bars by vendors and then served on wooden sticks.
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As far as snacks are concerned, Thai people really love them. Popular snacks are raw veggies with spicy dips, beef & chicken satay, and spring rolls.
Thai Spring Rolls with Cashew Dipping Sauce
Similar to Chinese cuisine, the formal presentation of food is another important aspect of Thai culture. It involves serving platters decorated with fruit and vegetable carvings and today Thai food presentation is considered among the most beautiful in the world.
Summer is finally here! We have long been preparing for it by focusing on healthy foods like cucumber salad and tomato soups, as well as avoiding foods with added sugars. Turns out, we’ve been following the hottest trends all this time!
Even though the first association for food trends is probably Instagram attractions like cloud eggs or unicorn foods (we’ll get to them later), research shows that two-thirds of the people DO care about what they eat and how it affects their overall health, longevity, and cognitive sharpness. This means that no matter how good colorful foods ‘grams look, most people would probably pass on them.
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However, after a vast research, we have decided to include both categories of food trends in our summer trend report: healthy and unusual, alongside hot national cuisines and the most popular smart-eating trend at the moment. Give them a try, even if it means just taking a cool photo that will liven up your Instagram feed! Here are a few to start with…
Unusual Instagram Food Trends
We’re happy to announce that unicorn food will not be taking center stage this summer. But even though the amount of color is decreasing (slightly), the level of weirdness is still quite high and mythical creatures continue to appear. And you know what, we can roll our eyes as much as we want, but no one can dispute their prettiness!
Credit: Daria Khoroshavina
Cloud eggs have taken the world by storm! As sophisticated as they might look, these fluffy clouds are very simple to make by separating the egg whites and whipping them until thick and fluffed up. Then, the yolk is placed in the center. Their great taste can be further enhanced by including ingredients like cheese, bacon herbs, or spices into the white.
Cloud bread follows the lead of cloud eggs by looking, tasting, and (let’s face it) sounding great. But it also has one more important feature – it’s healthy. Unlike traditional breads, this cloudy delight is packed with protein and has no carbs!
Inspire yourself: Cheesy Garlic Cloud Bread Texas Toast
It all started with mermaid toast, a beautiful, ocean-inspired creation (relative to unicorn toast -there it is again 😊). Most varieties you see on your Instagram feed are probably not so good for you, made with food coloring mixed into cream cheese, then smeared on top of a toast bread.
However, with a few minor adjustments, your mermaid toast can be made healthier. Enter more food trends: use sprouted bread and color the cream cheese with turmeric root to obtain yellow and orange, beet juice for pink, chlorophyll drops for green, freeze-dried blueberry powder to get purple color, and spirulina powder/blue majik for blue.
Capturing this amazing aquatic look is much easier in mermaid smoothie bowls and, as of recent, the world can enjoy mermaid coffees as well. Cheers!
Blue Majik Foods
This vibrant ingredient doesn’t appear only in mermaid foods. Blue Majik is an extract of spirulina, blue-and-green algae that are full of protein. So, the feelings of satiety that protein produces, together with the great looks will have to be enough to persuade you to try fishy-smelling blue majik smoothies and desserts.
Activated Charcoal Foods
Maybe you’re more familiar with the term ‘goth’ popularized some time ago with the appearance of black goth ice cream. The name is much fancier but it refers to the same thing – activated charcoal, the social media’s new favorite ingredient.
This black ingredient isn’t just cool and unique, but it also offers some serious health benefits. To name just a few: it boosts the digestive system, removes toxins, reduces bad cholesterol levels, and decreases bloating. Besides ice cream, you can enjoy charcoal bread, kabobs, pancakes, cakes, macaroon cookies, and more!
Inspire yourself: Mickey Bento
Having problems detecting your food during midnight craving visits to the kitchen? Fluorescent foods are just for you!
After the huge success of neon foods like cotton candy and ice stream ramen, ‘glonuts’ are stealing the fluorescent show this year. Don’t worry, they are not radioactive. On the contrary, glow-in-the-dark donuts are 100% natural, the glowing glaze being made of vitamin B.
Inspire yourself: Vanilla Doughnuts
If you have seen Tastemade’s series Tiny Kitchen, you know what we’re talking about. It features various tiny foods including mini munchkins, M&Ms, McDonald’s happy meal, breakfast meal, pizza, potatoes… All of them made in a tiny little kitchen equipped with tiny little kitchen appliances, and with great precision. We don’t know about the taste, but they sure look cute!
It all began with the unicorn latte (here it is again), then came the avolatte, now it is carrot latte. What is it? Just a latte poured into a hollowed-out carrot. It was made as a joke and received quite a few negative comments, but it still managed to hit the ‘grams and become a huge hit.
Let’s look at the cons. First, we must assume that there are carrot bits floating inside the coffee (yuck). Second, the carrot probably doesn’t hold the coffee well so the chances of making a mess are quite big. On the positive side, “if it cuts down on the wastage from coffee cups why not?”, as one happy customer said.
If you don’t find carrots attractive enough to replace cups, there are also lattes served in apples or you can try tomato cortado, whatever that is.
Inspire yourself: Frothy Matcha Latte
Buddha Bowls are the perfect transition from attractive Instagram foods towards healthy foods. The name reference is from the book Buddha’s Diet: The Ancient Art of Losing Weight Without Losing Your Mind. In terms of ingredients, they include green veggies (fiber), whole grain (good fats), and protein. In addition, they are easy to make at home and contain almost no calories.
Inspire yourself: Chickpea Broccoli Buddha Bowl
Healthy Food Trends
Forget traditional summer barbecues. Plant-based foods are on the rise, especially plant-based protein as a substitute for red meat. So, instead of beef, opt for falafel, chickpea, and quinoa burgers!
Inspire yourself: Veggie Burgers
Chia seeds have been around for some time and their popularity doesn’t seem to fade away! It’s no wonder considering this seed’s nutritional values – it is gluten-free and full of proteins, dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. In addition, it is quite versatile and can be used in various baked recipes, like breads, cakes, and muffins!
To unite healthiness and popularity once again, let’s mention another huge Instagram trend – chia jars, an amazing creation of alternating fruit and chia pudding layers. Chia pudding is very simple to make by putting chia seeds in a mason jar, then covering them with milk. After a while, the seeds will absorb the liquid and expand. That’s your cue for topping them with nuts, fruits, or whatever your heart desires.
Inspire yourself: Peanut Butter and Jelly Chia Pudding
Coconut is everywhere! With alternative milks made of nuts or soy gaining popularity at the expense of cow milk, coconut leads the way as one of the most popular ingredients to embrace this summer. Like chia, coconut is also considered one of the healthiest foods on the planet, especially in the form of coconut oil which is credited for preventing a large number of chronic diseases including cancer and diabetes. Besides oil, this tropical fruit-nut-seed (three in one!) also appears as coconut water, ice cream, chips, jam, butter, you name it!
Inspire yourself: Mango and Coconut Tartlets
While at the butter topic, alternative nut butters have really exploded in popularity. To translate this into numbers: The popularity of cashew butter has increased by 998 percent, pistachio butter – 348 percent, and almond butter has increased by 121 percent.
Inspire yourself: Candie Cookie Bites
White bread vs. sprouted bread. Despite statistics claiming that people have started favoring sprouted grains and bread made from them, Matt Preston, an English-Australian food journalist, restaurant critic, writer, and television personality, has shocked the world with his claim that humble white bread is making a big comeback. “Diners are getting tired of jellies and foams, and the fine dining market is saturated with chefs who forage, pickle and ferment,” he said. The question here is do you want to be trendy or in good health?
Inspire yourself: Herb French Bread
Hot National Cuisines
After looking at the summer trends throughout the net we have connected a few dots and united three hot trends under one name: Mexican wave.
First, we have discovered that there is a serious taco fever taking over the world this summer. Makes sense, since this dish is perfect for hot days – simple, spicy, and versatile. When it comes to fillings, feel free to use just about anything that comes to mind, from classic ingredients to yesterday’s leftovers. Or, if you want to stay in fashion, opt for pickles.
Pickled and fermented veggies are another food trend we have identified. They don’t just add flavor to your dishes, but they are also healthy (especially good for the gut). Pickle some sliced jalapeños for your summer tacos and you have the summer 2017’s winner dish!
Savory yogurts. Very simple, buy some plain, unsweetened yogurt and twist it with savory add-ins: feta cheese, grated cucumber, avocado, lemon juice & zest, paprika, mint, toasted pine nuts. Olive oil, salt, and pepper are a must for every combination! Chill your savory yogurt, grab a spoon and enjoy it directly from the bowl, or dollop onto your tacos for a refreshing note.
Inspire yourself: Southwestern Beef Tacos
Another national cuisine to pay close attention to this summer is Filipino cuisine, thanks to top chef Anthony Bourdain. This food connoisseur claims that certain dishes from this underestimated cuisine will win the hearts of hipsters around the globe very soon. Bourdain has a particular dish in mind: pork sisg – a casual, accessible, and crispy dish made from liver and pig’s head!
Inspire yourself: Maple-Glazed Pork
Smart Eating Summer Trend– Sustainable Food
Millennials have paved the road for smart eating choices after making waste-free eating the hottest trend for 2016.
Food waste control is at the core of this year’s smart trend as well. Sustainable foods take into account environmental, health, social, and economic factors. This industry is focused on local, organic, and seasonal ingredients. It tries to reduce the use of animal foods as they’re among the most energy and greenhouse-gas intensive food products, as well as endangered fish species. In addition, it promotes healthy eating, fair trade, and food democracy. It’s worth thinking about it!
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If you want to be part of the sustainable food trend, have a sustainable coffee at the McDonald’s or a taco made with sustainable salmon at the Rubio’s.
Enjoy good food and create great memories this summer!