Southern Thailand has significant populations of Indians and Muslims who have introduced many ingredients and meal concepts to southern Thai cuisine. Dishes from southern Thailand tend to be very spicy and full of rich, heavy ingredients.
Southern Thai Cuisine
Curries are one of the most popular forms of meals in southern Thailand. Nearly all curries are highly spiced, with the exception of milder, Arab-inspired meals. Much of southern Thailand is coastal, and seafood is more ubiquitous in southern Thai cuisine than any other region of the country. Rice is often replaced with flat breads like naan or roti in southern Thai dishes. Naan and roti is often stuffed with curried meat and vegetables and served as a snack or as a part of a main course.
Popular Southern Thai Dishes
Some of the most popular dishes in southern Thai cooking include:
- Gaeng massaman: Beef curry, made with masaman, an Indian influenced curry paste spiced with cumin, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Coconut milk, peanuts or cashews, potatoes, bay leaves, fish sauce, sugar and tamarind sauce are added to the dish.
- Kaeng lueang: Southern yellow curry usually composed of fish and one vegetable variety: pineapple, bamboo or papaya. The curry paste includes fresh and dried chilies, garlic, shrimp paste, turmeric and salt. Kaeng lueang is one of the spiciest Thai curries.
- Kaeng tai pla: Vegetable curry, made from turmeric, shrimp paste, eggplant, tamarind, bamboo shoots and long beans, with seafood like fish innards often added.
- Kanom jeen: Rice noodles cooked with onions, garlic, galangal, salt, coconut milk, mung beans, coconut, chili powder, shrimp, peanuts, fish sauce and sugar, and served with your choice of curry.
- Khao mok kai: Chicken and rice with spicy seasoning and sauce. The seasoning has curry, coriander seed, turmeric, cumin, salt, sugar, bay leaves and cinnamon. The sauce contains water, vinegar, salt, sugar, cayenne peppers, ginger, coriander and onions.
- Khua kling: dry curry with minced or diced meat, long beans, kaffir lime leaves and chilies. The curry paste has lemon grass, garlic, onions, galangal, turmeric, salt, chili peppers, pepper and shrimp paste. Khua kling is one of the more spicy curry dishes.
While southern Thai cuisine has been heavily influenced by Indians and Muslims, the northeastern Isan Thai cuisine incorporates many influences from neighboring Laos.