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Thai joy in Delhi

FOOD WITH its infinite charms has the potential to conjure up images which nothing else can. One moment, it can take you to the utopian world that history has only dreamt of and yet the very next moment, you might just face history itself. Flavour and form, influenced but never disturbed by history, accord such nonpareil status to food in general and to Thai cuisine in particular.

The Thai Food Festival which goes on till this coming Sunday at Maurya Sheraton's Pavilion restaurant just reinforces the point. Take for instance the lamb curry. The scrumptious curry, with its shredded lamb has all the elements of a Buddhist influence. Of course, Buddhists would have shunned lamb all together, but the Mon and Khmer settlers, who probably reached Thailand before Buddhism did, couldn't have done that.

Leave the portions and concentrate on the curry itself and you would find that India has also left its stamp on the cuisine. However, Thai curries unlike Indian variants burn intensely but not for long. In this particular case, the duration of that burning sensation is probably negligible. But one can't blame the chefs who have to tone down the spices to suit the Western guests. On other counts it is appetising as ever. Anyway, coming back to the settlers, they brought with themselves the Chinese cuisine, which bears its imprint at the live counter where rice noodles are being served.

The stir-fried delicacy with generous portions of prawns and eggs is a complete meal in itself. And yes, it is a lip-smacking one, if that needs to be mentioned. Again the use of prawns or even fish for that matter would be déjà vu for those familiar with early Thai food.

History apart, the buffet is found wanting in more ways than one. The imbalance between the quantities of the portions and the curry, the almost non-existent sweet and sour chilli sauce in the Snapper which is supposed to be topped by it, or the dearth of forks at the counter where mango and sticky rice dessert are kept is unexpected. The Thai cooks who prepare delectable Som-Tam, a raw papaya salad and great desserts too apart from Chicken and cashew nut delicacy, aren't able to convince all, with language being the barrier. However, with a changing menu and the Thai new-year coming up the festival is all poised to get better and better.


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