Thai Spices

Thai cuisine is the national cuisine of Thailand. Blending elements of several Southeast Asian traditions, Thai cooking places emphasis on lightly prepared dishes with strong aromatic components. The spiciness of Thai cuisine is well known. As with other Asian cuisines, balance, detail and variety are of great significance to Thai chefs. Thai food is known for its balance of three to four fundamental taste senses in each dish or the overall meal: sour, sweet, salty, and bitter.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is the rich base for many Thai curries and sweet dishes. Coconut milk or ‘ga-ti’ is traditionally made by mixing the grated meat of a ripe coconut with warm water and then squeezing out the juice. Now there are machines that grate and press coconut to produce the white, sweet-aroma coconut milk. Coconut milk comes in a can for convenient use.

Fish sauce

If there’s any one key ingredient that is critical to cooking Thai cuisine, it is fish sauce–for that reason alone, it’s difficult to find vegetarian recipes that actually taste like Thai cuisine. Fish sauce provides the salty dimension in Thai cuisine, and it’s high in protein as well as minerals and vitamins. It’s made from small fish, salt-fermented for a long time, then the juice is extracted and boiled. Good fish sauce should be clear and brownish in color.

Chilies (prik)

More than 10 types of chilies are used in Thai cooking. They vary in size and color, but all are used for spicy flavoring and decoration. It is the main ingredient of chili paste.

Palm Sugar

This is a key taste in Thai food, and many recipes use palm sugar. The sugar is harvested from a sugar palm tree, produced from the sweet, watery sap that drips from cut flower buds. The sap is collected each morning and boiled in huge woks on the plantations until a sticky sugar remains. This is whipped and dropped in lumps cellophaor filled into containers.

Thai Sweet Basil

A variety of the sweet basil with a taste of anise. It is used in different curries such as red and green curry and often also served separately.

Fingerroot (Kra Chai)

This root has a slightly medicinal flavour and is used in certain fish dishes and curries.

Garlic (Krathiam)

Besides being used cooked or fried, garlic is used raw in many dips and salad dressings. It is also served raw on the side with several Thai dishes such as Khao kha mu (stewed pork served on rice) or as one of the ingredients for dishes such as Miang kham.

Dill(Phak chi Lao)

Fresh dill is used mainly in certain soups and in curries from north-eastern Thailand which do not contain coconut milk. It literally means “coriander from Laos” in Thai.

Coriander/cilantro leaves

The leaves are seen often as a garnish with many Thai dishes. It is indispensable for Tom yam soup.


Used in many Thai salads and sometimes as a way to suppress the ‘muddy’ taste of certain fish when steamed.

Kaffir lime leaves

Kaffir lime leaves are widely used in spicy Thai soups and curries, either cooked whole, together with the dish, and/or finely shredded and added before serving.

Culantro (Phak chi farang)

A herb often seen in spicy soups and Northern curries. It literally means “European coriander”, perhaps because it was brought from the Caribbean to Thailand by Europeans.

Ginger (Khing)

Either served raw (shredded or diced) with dishes such as Miang kham and Khanom chin sao nam, in certain chilli dips, or in stir fried dishes of Chinese origin.

Fresh peppercorns (Phrik Thai on)

Thai cuisine often uses fresh (green) peppercorns in stir fried dishes and in certain curries such as Kaeng pa (so-called Jungle Curry).

Galangal (Kha)

The perfume-like scent and flavour of the galangal root is characteristic for many Thai curries and spicy soups.


Lemon grass (Takhrai)

Used extensively in many Thai dishes such as curries, spicy soups and salads.

Plate brush Eggplant

Used in green curry .Helps in digestion ,high in calcium and phosphorous

Turmeric(Kha Min)

This yellow coloured root is often used in dishes of Muslim/Southern Thai origin and in Northern Thailand for Northern style curries.

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