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Thai Vegetarian Food Dishes

Making Your Own Thai Food Dishes ... The Vegetarian Way  


In this brief article we will talk about Thai vegetarian food from two perspectives, the first relates to finding food outlet where you could get Thai vegetarian food dishes. The second perspective is for those who love to cook at home and would like to make some delicious Thai food dishes that are vegetarian. The information provided here will be very useful to all food lovers who relish vegetarian food so, sit back and read this very interesting report.

Let us first talk about eating Thai vegetarian food in a restaurant or other food outlet. The word for vegetarian in Thai is 'chey'. The 'ch' pronounced like the 'ch' in the English word 'chute', the 'ey' is pronounced like the 'ay' in the English word 'hay'. We are for the moment presuming that you are in the country (Thailand) and looking for Thai vegetarian food. If you are very particular about eating vegetarian food, you need to make sure that the restraunt, hotel or food stall understands that you need authentic vegetarian food. The Thais have another word 'monk-sa-vee-raat' which is similar but not identical to vegetarian. When you say vegetarian as in the Thai word 'chey' - it means that you cannot have fish sauce, dairy milk and no type of meat or seafood. This is what you could call absolutely vegetarian Thai food. On the other hand when the Thais talk about 'monk-sa-vee-raat'  Thai food, it means that fish sauce, eggs, dairy milk and probably even fish is okay. If you are a strict vegetarian, stick to the word 'chey' and you should be safe.

Still on the topic of looking for Thai vegetarian food in Thailand - lets talk about where you might be eating the food. A road side stall is unlikely to offer pure vegetarian Thai food. With a low demand for such Thai food, they do not find it convenient to use separate cooking utensils, cooking oil and other ingredients to satisfy the desire for pure Thai vegetarian food. If you plan to eat vegetarian food in a Thai restaurant, the first thing that you should do is to try and get hold of the menu. Look for a separate section on Vegetarian Food, if you do find this you are very safe. Select Thai food dishes from the vegetarian menu section and it is unlikely that you will have any problem. Now, if you do not find a section for Thai vegetarian food in the menu, you will need to clearly communicate what you need with the staff or the manager. The Thais are normally very helpful with such requests and will try to get someone to understand what you are talking about. The important thing is whether they will actually make Thai vegetarian food for you. If they do not, all you can do is to smile politely and keep looking for other places. The more interesting part is when they are willing to make some 'special' Thai vegetarian food dishes for you. Be prepared for questions like, 'is fish sauce okay?', 'can we use fish in the food?', 'can you eat shrimp paste?' etc.

Eating Thai vegetarian food in a restaurant or hotel outside Thailand is more straightforward. Most Thai food outlets in foreign countries are known to 'tune' the flavor of the Thai food to suit local tastes. It is also more likely that such Thai food outlets will clearly understand what you mean by Thai vegetarian food. So basically you will get the right food if, they agree to make it for you. An interesting thing about Thai food in foreign countries is that, the menu is likely to have some innovate 'fusion' type of Thai food dishes that you could try. We have tasted Thai spring rolls in India that had the interesting flavor of Indian spices and 'masalas'. A fact is that, getting Thai vegetarian food in India would be far easier than, getting the same type of food in Thailand. This is because of the relatively high demand for vegetarian food in some countries, this includes India.

Some suggestions and notes about Thai vegetarian food dishes. You would be very lucky if the Thai restaurant you visit, is willing to make any food dish from their menu with a vegetarian format. In this case you do not need to worry about a seperate Thai vegetarian food section in the menu, just pick any of the regular dishes and request for it to be made as a vegetarian dish. You might have come across 'vegetarian' meat in Thailand, this is actually a solid mass made from soya extract. It does externally resemble meat but is infact totally vegetarian. This is not something that is seen all the year round but, the Chinese vegetarian festival (October-November) is when you will see plenty of this meat 'substitute' being sold and used in cooking.

If you plan to cook your own Thai vegetarian food, it is best to work with an open mind - experiment and you will get some amazing results. It is not difficult to find some Thai vegetarian food recipes on the net or in a Thai food cook book but, add some excitement to your cooking. Once you have tried a few Thai vegetarian food dishes, you can actually work out a pattern for how non-vegetarian ingredients are replaced with vegetarian ingredients. Once you get an idea of how this is done and what the 'substitute' vegetarian counterparts are - work on making any popular Thai food dish in a vegetarian style. We have provided some images of very popular Thai food dishes that have been adapted to vegetarian style. Let these fire your imagination as you seek excitement and fun for your Thai food cooking adventures.

 

Some Popular Thai Food Dishes, Cooked In Vegetarian Style

thai vegetarian food dishes, tom khaa in vegetarian format
The very popular Thai Tom Khaa soup adapted to vegetarian style. Some restaurants in Thailand can customize any Thai food dish on their menu to be made as a vegetarian dish. The above Thai soup, is very famous and the white liquid in the dish is coconut milk. The interesting thing about this popular Thai food dish is that, it is served on the table with a burning lamp underneath. Almost the entire cooking process happens right on your table, with the lamp below providing the required heat.

vegetarian thai food, vegetarian som tum from Thailand
Vegetarian Som Tom, another very popular Thai food dish. Som Tum is largely made from raw ingredients, the groundnuts are ofcourse roasted. Som Tum can be very spicey so you need to moderate the chillies according to your preference. The ingredients seen above, string beans, grated raw papaya, roasted groundnuts and sliced tomatoes are common the vegetarian and non-vegetarian version of som tum. This Thai food dish is often served with a piece of cabbage (seen in image), a few pieces of string beans and some crushed ice. These are served on a separate plate, though string beans form an ingredient in the main dish too. Interestingly we have found that, most Thai restaurants do not include the crushed ice when you order vegetarian som tam - probably because it has lot less fire than the non-vegetarian som tum. We have the recipe for the veg Thai som tam salad ... here.

vegetarian food in Thailand, phad hed kapow
A very colorful and pretty Thai food dish, Phad Hed Kapow. You can see a variety of mushrooms in this Thai food dish - the mushrooms are prominent even in the non-vegetarian version of this popular Thai food dish. A slight variation in the ingredients gives you a delicious Thai vegetarian dish, this is what you see in the above image. Among the Thai restaurants that we have visited, not many offer vegetarian Phad Hed Kapow. If you would like to try your hand and cooking your own Thai vegetarian food - this is one exciting dish that you should try. If you order this Thai dish in a restaurant and cannot stomach too much of spice and fire, request for the dish to be moderated.

 

Important: If you plan on eating vegetarian Thai food for religious reasons, we would suggest that you visit a restaurant that clearly understands your language. Communication problems can lead to unpleasant surprises so, it is best not to take any chances. We have heard some interesting arguments in Pizza outlets, the debate is whether the bread used to make a Veggie or Vegetarian Pizza has egg as an ingredient. Most soups have chicken as an ingredient, so you need to double check on that. Some of the business districts in Bangkok do have a few Thai restaurants that serve only vegetarian food but, the menu is a bit limited in most of them.


 

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