Cuisine from Thailand’s Central Region

Central Region of Thailand - Chao Phraya River

Central Region of Thailand - Chao Phraya River

The central region of Thailand, considered the traditional heartland of the country, is the source of some of Thailand’s best known dishes.

The Chao Phraya river runs through the middle of the central plain as it winds it’s way down through Bangkok and out into the Gulf of Thailand. The earliest style of cooking in this area, dating back to the ancient capital of Sukhothai, was a simpler form based on the rice that grows so abundantly all through the region as well as the fresh fish and native spices including garlic, salt and black pepper.

During the four centuries that the Ayutthaya ruled as the capital of Thailand, more complex food elements were brought to the cuisine of the central region including the chili pepper, introduced from South America. The chili pepper is an essential ingredient in modern day Thai cuisine. Other Thai cooking staples including coriander, lime and tomato were introduced during this period.

Aisawan Dhiphya-Asana PavilionThe large cosmopolitan kingdom of Ayutthaya attracted traders from distant places such as the Middle East, Europe, China, India, Japan, Persia and Portugal. This brought a wide variety of culinary diversity to Thailand’s central region. Over time, these outside influences were subtly transformed to better suit the Thai tastes and preferences and to take advantage of the local ingredients.

These cooking developments continued in Bangkok, which became the capital of Thailand in 1782. The Chinese cooking influence continued to expand during this time. These Sino-Thai dishes, especially in the form of many different types of noodle dishes, remain popular today. Many familiar stir-fried noodle dishes such as Phat Phak Bung Fai Daeng (stir-fried water spinach) have their origins in this region.

Fruits also played an increasingly important role  in the central region’s cuisine as Thai fruit growers began to produce new and more succulent varieties of popular fruits including mango, durian and pomelo.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Swami Stream

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13 Comments

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