Khun Pannee Komma Menon is the chef behind the ongoing Thai food fest at Tea Bungalow where the food is cooked like it is in Thailand

If a Mrs. Menon were to cook Thai food one would wonder if the cuisine would be as close as the real one. But if it is Khun Pannee Komma Menon lining up the food then you can be sure that it's truly Thai. For Pannee is a Thai married to a Malayali, which is what brings her here.

Besides Pannee has been hosting many Thai food festivals in the city and is very familiar with the tastes of the Malayali.

Career switch

A trained nurse, Pannee got the cooking bug from her mother who was known for her desserts and sweet meats. Changing course she started a restaurant in Lopburi, near Bangkok, before she moved to Thripunithura.

And now with Kochi as home and a whole kitchen and food experience to back her, she is using her expertise to give the city authentic Thai food festivals.

But there is a hitch… not in the food for sure but in communicating with Pannee. Her English and our Thai are quite the same and so help comes in form of husband Anil Menon, a freelance journalist. It seems that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach worked absolutely fine for this couple for it was Pannee's food that brought the two together.

In Thai food you will find a perfect blend of the five tastes - sweet, sour, salty, bitter and spicy. So it is a big balancing act in food as different coloured vegetables, different meats and seafood, different flavours are mixed to dish up a meal that's high both in taste and presentation.

Pannee shipped in condiments and serving platters in a quest to be truly Thai in presentation and the cuisine. And thus came dried Kafir lime leaves and rind with her, along with bean flour, tofu, Pandarus leaves and rattan baskets. On her arrival, Pannee immediately took to growing galangal (a ginger look-alike spice) in her home.

In this festival there is duck as specialty. Marinated with sauces, stuffed and roasted the duck is carved and served, and is definitely the piece de resistance. There is a choice in soups, appetizers, main course and desserts.

No similarities

The notion that Kerala food has a lot in common with Thai is negated by Pannee, for she says the way coconut is used in both the cuisines is absolutely different.

“Yes, a lot of it is used but not in the same way.” Tender coconut, rice, seafood, bean flour are staple In Thai just as herbs, spices, root ginger and Kafir lime are generously used. Meal times are family times for Thais and food is central. It is delicately presented and what's most important says Pannee is that, “there's warmth in it.”

So for some authentic Thai with its essential ingredient, warmth, used in dollops is there for you to savour till December 5 at Tea Bungalow.

Khun Pannee Komma Menon is ready and eager to demonstrate the Thai food that she has lined up for the food festival, Oriental Opulence, Experience Thai, at Tea Bungalow in Fort Kochi.

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