Thai Cooking Made Easy! (Well, as experienced in a touristy cooking class…)

Along with cooking we also learned how to carve these carrots out of flowers.  Can you tell which one is Shefali's and which one is mine? (hint: mine looks like it was carved using a knife and not teeth)

Along with cooking we also learned how to carve these carrots out of flowers. Can you tell which one is Shefali’s and which one is mine? (hint: mine looks like it was carved using a knife and not my teeth)

I’m sure if you saw the previous post about pad thai, you’re aware of how highly I regard Thai food, both for its preparation and its dynamic flavors. Also, I’m a fan of employing badly shot vacation video from almost two years ago to give the few lucky readers of this blog an opportunity to savor more Thai food and watch Shefali and I stumble through the preparation of some basic Thai dishes.  You see, the summer before last, before Kaya and her voracious appetite made themselves known – actually, I think Shef was in the early stages of pregnancy with K (aka “The Eater”) – we were fortunate to find ourselves in Chiang Mai, Thailand, recuperating from our trip to India.  Believe me, Northern Thailand is the place to go for relaxing and eating.  As full fledged tourists, we enrolled in a one day cooking class at the Siam Rice Thai Cookery School. Now, I fancy myself as somewhat knowledgeable about food and the way its prepared – Asian food in particular. Oh, I don’t know, maybe because I’m ASIAN? Sheeit! So I didn’t know how much I’d really get out of this class. Well, feed me some humble pie, because I got a whole lot of spicy goodness out of it. It was great!  The recipes were obviously dumbed down for farang students, but what really came through (bubbled up to the surface as it were) was the importance of using the freshest ingredients and cooking things quickly and with the intensity of high eat to seal in flavors. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but some of dishes I cooked in this class, I’d consider among the best Thai food I’ve eaten.  So without further ado, please enjoy these two videos which chronicle both our trip to the market and our cooking class. Please enjoy!

Part 1

Part 2

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Memorable Meals in India: Part 3a – Camel Trek Lunch

Tourists of the desert: Shefali and I show off the latest look from the Thar desert. Okay, maybe not so glamorous but we did avoid major sunburn.

As I mentioned in the last post, one of the more touristy and totally worth it things we did in Rajasthan was an overnight camel trek in the Thar desert outside if Jaisalmer.  It was basically like backpacking except with camels doing all the hard work of carrying all of our stuff and also doing all the walking. Oh don’t get me wrong.  We’re still hardcore.  I mean it was really hot – being the desert and all. We had to drink a lot of warm/hot plasticky water that had been  roasting in the sun, not to mention having to reapply sunblock like seven times. Also, riding camels is really hard on the groins.

Shefali and I with our camel trek guide/ cook extraordinaire: Amaan

Fortunately, we had an excellent guide named Amaan who prepared all of our meals and was generally, a very upstanding young man. And by young I mean he was only 20 or 21 and newly married at that. Please enjoy the following video of my our amazing camel trek lunch prepared by Amaan and eaten by us.

 

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C’s Habañero Salsa: This spice goes to eleven…

Such bright, beautiful little peppers...

Such bright, beautiful little peppers…

... and it grows up to become this salsa which will hurt you, but you'll love it anyway - kind of like a dysfunctional relationship.

… and it grows up to become this salsa which will hurt you, but you’ll love it anyway – kind of like a dysfunctional relationship.

Alright, are you ready to have your mind blown? or your mouth? or your stomach? ok, your butt? Well, I guarantee you that this salsa will do at least one of these and hopefully just the first two. Like the tomatillo salsa, this one has become a staple in our household but unlike the tomatillo which you can slather liberally on just about anything, with this salsa, a little dab will do ya (bonus points to anyone who remembers that slogan).  This stuff packs some serious heat so please exercise caution.  But, you have my personal guarantee that with its sunny, bright, citrusy and peppery spice, you’ll have a hard time limiting yourself to just a little dab. It enlivens whatever you put it on. I dare say the word “picquant” is the perfect adjective to describe this salsa.

Ingredients:
1/4 lbs of habañeros (roasted and seeded – you might want to wear rubber gloves when handling these peppers because the chili’s oils will actually start to burn your skin with prolonged exposure. Perhaps I should heed my own advice).
1-2 tbsp of white vinegar
juice of half a lime
1/4 tsp of salt
1/8 tsp of garlic powder
1/8 tsp of cumin powder (optional)
1/8 tsp of sugar
1-2 tbsp water (to thin out the sauce and mellow the spice – a little)

Here’s how I do it:

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