SPICES


Chili (Phrik)
There are many different types of chili; green, red or yellow and fresh or dried as flakes and powder. The smaller the chili, the hotter it is. Chilies are used in soups, some liquid or curry-like dishes and sauces. They are extremely hot. Benefits: Stimulates blood circulation. Increases perspiration and aids digestion. Drives gas out of the stomach and cures flatulence.
Coriander or Cilantro (Phak Chi)
Resembles a flat-leaf parsley in appearance. Essential in Thai cooking, the leaves and stem are eaten fresh and used frequently as a garnish. The flavor is delicate and is pleasant in taste and fragrance. Benefits: Cilantro aids digestion and deodorizes the flavor. It cures flatulence and reduces phlegm.
Galangal or Galanga (Kha)
A member of the ginger family that looks similar to fresh ginger but with a more translucent skin and a pinkish tinge/pale yellow color. It is used in curry pastes, stir-frys and soups. Avoid using too large a quantity or it may spoil the taste. It has a lemony flavor. Benefits: It drives phlegm from the throat and relaxes muscles. Helps the digestive system to digest food. Cures flatulence.
Garlic (Kratiem)
Thai garlic has small cloves, is removed from the peel and crushed before use. It has a strong flavor. Benefits: Decreases cholesterol in the blood, destroys blockages in blood vessels so it can help control blood pressure and heart diseases. Helps drive parasitic worms out of the stomach. Solves problems of throat disease, asthma, and colicky pains and nourishes the lungs.
Ginger (Khing)
Ginger grows underground and can be used when it is young or has matured. Look for shiny, fat roots that aren't wrinkled or shriveled. Ginger is peeled and chopped or crushed before using. Thai dishes call for fresh, pickled or cooked ginger. It has a sweet and hot flavor. Benefits: Relieves nasal congestion and aids the digestive system by curing flatulence as ginger stimulates contractions of the stomach.
Hairy Basil (Bai Mang Luk)
Hairy Basil is a bright, light green plant with tiny leaves. It has a lemony flavor and usually sprinkled over salads, soups, and some curry dishes as a garnish. Benefits: Solves the problem of excessive stomach gas and nourishes the heart.
Holy Basil (Bai Kaphrao)
Holy or "Sacred" basil is green or dark purple in color. It is used in spicy salads because it is not so fragrant. It can be used fresh or deep-fried as a crispy garnish. It has a strong flavor and is slightly hot. Benefits: Deodorizes the meat's scent, solves the problem of colicky pain, helps to digest food, and is high in beta-charelotine to make bones stronger. It increases perspiration and reduces phelgm.
Kaffir Lime (Ma Krud)
Kaffir lime is green with knobby, dark skin and widely used in Thailand. The rind is often grated and added to food, while the fragrant leaves are added to dishes to heighten their aromatic appeal. Benefits: Deodorizes the meat's scent. The leaves and skin aid digestion and reduce the effects of overeating.
Lemon Grass (Ta-khrai)
Lemon grass is a tall plant that resembles a grass with small bulbous roots and an aromatic gray-green grass. Only the bottom section of the plant is sliced, crushed or chopped in wide a range of Thai dishes such as curries, soups, and salads. The stem end is added whole to spicy soups and curries. Benefits: Deodorizers the meat's scent and cures stomach ache. It relieves contractions in the intestines and cures flatulence.
Lesser Ginger (Krachal)
This unusual rhizome, which looks like a bunch of short yellow-brown tuberous roots has a mild flavor and is used in fish dishes. It is also known as powdered rhizome when it takes the form of dried, slivered roots. Benefits: Similar to Chinese ginseng and makes you feel fresh.
Shallots (Hom Lek or Hom Daeng)
Thai shallots are small cloved onions pinkish-purple in color, in a bulb form. Shallots are fondly called small onions or Thai red onions among Thai people. Peel them off, rinse, and coarsely chop them for chili paste or thinly slice them for chili paste or chili salad dishes. They can also be sliced or deep-fried and used as a garnish. Large red or brown onions can be used as a substitute. Benefits: Cures flatulence
Spring Onion or Scallions (Tom Hom)
Scallions are mild long-stemmed, slim onions. Both the green and white portions are used. These are used as a garnish and are frequently served on the side of a meal, such as fried rice or placed on the salad plate. It has a strong flavor. Benefits: Aids in colds and fevers by clearing the respiratory system.
Sweet Basil (Bai Horapha)
It is used liberally as a seasoning and sprigs of it are often added to platters of fresh raw vegetables. They have small deep green leaves with reddish-purple stems, and are used in red and green curries. Sweet basil has a stronger flavor than western sweet basil with a distinctive lemony fragrance. Benefits: Seasons the food and deordorizes the meats' scent. Cures flatulence and aids in digestion. Sweet basil reduces phlegm.
Tamarind (Makham)
Comes from the tamarind tree and has fine fern leaves. The fruit is eaten green but the brown pulp is used for cooking. Making tamarind juice (paste) is easy and is preserved from pits and shelled tamarind. They should be rinsed before being soaked with a small amount of boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Squeeze the paste and use the liquid. It is used in spicy and some chili salad dishes. Tamarind has a sour flavor. Benefits: Cures stomach problems and constipation. Contains vitamin C and calcium so it is good for bones and teeth.
Turmeric root (Kha-Min)
It is a small ginger with brown rhizomes. Both mature and young ones are used. The old one is a bright, orange color, and is used in pounded form for coloring food and deodorizing the meat's scent. The color of the young tumeric root is pale and mostly eaten fresh with "nam-phrik" a sauce of shrimp paste and chili. Tumeric root is a bitter spice. Benefits: Relieves stomach problems (such as gastric or peptic ulcers)

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