Learning Thai Cooking

I sat down on the floor wincing and gasping for breath after an intense session training for kickboxing. Just then, I noticed a lady with a bag of fresh herbs walking towards the kitchen. Despite the excruciating pain, I got back on my feet immediately and followed her.

I knocked on the door and politely asked, “Hello! Are you going to cook something?”

In a strong Thai accent, she responded, “Yes, maybe after fifteen minutes. Do you want something?”

“I love cooking. Can you please teach me to cook Thai food?”, I requested.

“Yes!”, she exclaimed joyfully with a grin on her face.

I was back in the kitchen again after a quick shower. She was meticulously chopping the vegetables and preparing the other ingredients.

Interrupting her, I asked, “What are you cooking today?”, and she answered, “Kai Yat Sai.”

I asked her again, “Sorry, what?”, and she emphasised slowly, “Kaaai-Yat-Saaai.”

I kept repeating it a few times to get it right; to say it just like the locals do. She corrected me each time and finally, she said, “Yes, correct!”

A very close friend of mine in Munich loves Thai food. Hence, I sought permission from the lady to make videos for my friend to which she gladly obliged. I was curious to know what exactly Kai Yat Sai was and started watching her make it while simultaneously recording for my friend. The end product turned out to be a Thai style omelette stuffed with vegetables and herbs. The lady suddenly turned to me, handed me the wok and ordered me to cook.

I was excited but also nervous; excited to learn something new but nervous not to mess it up because the food had to be served to other students at the kickboxing camp. After diligently following every single instruction, I successfully prepared my first Kai Yat Sai.

Kai Yat Sai

I thanked her and asked, “Can you please teach me how to make Pad Thai? I love Pad Thai!”, and exuberantly, she replied, “Yes, tomorrow.”

Although the kickboxing session the next day was far more gruelling, it did not prevent me from going to the kitchen. I was eager to learn to cook Pad Thai. The kitchen had everything ready: noodles soaked in warm water, a plethora of sauces, prawns cleaned, chicken diced into small pieces, eggs whisked, herbs chopped, lemon sliced, peanuts crushed, and a flaming hot wok.

We started making Pad Thai. At one point, when we had to add the chilli paste, she asked, “Do you like spicy food?”, and I cheerfully said, “Yes! I come from India and I can eat very spicy food.”

She stated, “We had four Indians. They could not handle my chilli paste. Try it.”

I tried it and instantly felt my face and tongue burning. As I glared at her with my red eyes, almost close to tears, she laughed out jubilantly and said, “Five Indians now!”

She resumed giving me directions to finish making Pad Thai. We arranged the noodles on different plates garnishing it with chopped coriander leaves, sliced lemon and crushed peanuts. It looked delectable, smelt aromatic and tasted delicious. We were pleased with the way it turned out. A speciality of Pad Thai is that it is a dish cooked with a fine balance of ingredients that are sweet, sour, spicy and salty.

Pad Thai

It was finally time for me to head to the airport. I asked the lady while leaving if she had any small jars for me to take some of her homemade pastes for my friend. She generously offered me a big jar of Thai curry paste but I did not have any space left in my bag. I thanked her nevertheless for one last time. I had set foot in Bangkok just to learn Thai kickboxing but I left the place learning how to cook a few Thai dishes as well.

Author

Ankur Sinha

Playing with data constantly, traveling when I have money and time, cooking to relieve from stress, blogging when I have something to write about.