Simple food but rich in flavours

By Heather C Phanwar

The city can enjoy another round of Thai cuisine as Soul Kitchen, a multi-cuisine restaurant, will organise a food festival on October 18 and 19. The restaurant that is famous for its Indian, Mughlai, Chinese and tandoor will bring something new on the table so that food lovers in Shillong can experience something new.
“This festival, we want people to experience seafood and food which are not found on our plate everyday,” said proprietor Vivek Wahlang.
Wahlang, who is associated with the food industry for quite some time, passed out hotel management from IHM-Pusa, New Delhi, in 1988. He worked with MTDC for 11 years. And three years back, he wanted to start his venture in the industry. “Maintaining the standard of the restaurant is my priority,” said Wahlang.
The 65-seater restaurant has a simple décor. It has a small stage for live music on weekends. Soul Kitchen is does outdoor catering for any function or event.
Chef Kashmiri Nath, who is based in Guwahati, will be cooking for the two-day event. The chef’s speciality is Thai and Assamese. She learnt the nuances of Thai cooking in Thailand. The way Nath explained how vegetables are cut or even the way ingredients she uses, one can see the passion that she has for food.
While the food was brought to the table, she made sure that everything was perfect — from starters to salad to the main course and her favourite dessert.
Nath said she loves travelling to Thailand and that the cuisine is similar to what northeasterners eat. About Thai food, she said be it street food or food served at high-end restaurants, they are simple with complex flavours. Here is what you should look forward to:
Som Tam salad (Papaya salad with peanuts and spices): This salad will make an imprint in your mind. The salad is made with chopped papaya, carrots, julienned onions, lemon juice, garnish of cilantro, a little bit of chilli flakes is perfect for a hot summer day. The crunchiness of the papaya while chewing it and the juices of everything tossed together make it so special on the platter. Vegetarians will definitely love this. The salad was topped with roasted peanuts which is a Thai specialty.
Fish cake: Don’t let looks deceive you because this looks like an ordinary fish cutlet but the flavours in it will kick a punch in your taste buds. A small bite of it will make you long for more. It goes well with the hot and chilli sauce. The presentation is simple — four fish cakes on the plate garnished with cilantro. It is spongy and soft and the type of fish used here is different from what we eat often.
Thai Chicken Massaman curry: Thai chicken massaman curry is an absolute musthave dish. This curry complements well with a side of jasmine rice. The creamy chicken with soft cooked potatoes made the meal more satisfying. The smell of coconut milk, nutmeg and lemongrass tickles the nostrils. The chef said galangal, a Thai herb similar to ginger, was added that gives it an authentic Asian curry taste. Thai flavours are all about balancing salt and sweetness along with the added heat according to your preference. This is what makes Thai cuisine one of the best delicacies.
Pad Thai: A Thai specialty. Be it street food or at any high-end restaurant, this is a common item on the menu in Thailand. It is stir-fried flat noodle tossed with chicken, sliced red and yellow bell pepper, garlic, chilli flakes and peanuts with a side of lemon wedges. This is a famous delicacy of Thailand so the style of cooking varies from one place to another. Some may add a lot of vegetables, shrimps, fish sauce (which adds a lot of flavour to it), bok choy and bean sprouts. The Pad Thai was well presented. The chef tried to make it as authentic as possible but with a few ingredients not available, it is still worth craving for. The chef makes her own spices. The chilli flakes added a tinge of spiciness that goes well with the noodle. All in all it is different from the noodles we get in cafes or restaurants here.
Thai chicken with cashewnut: For almost every Thai dish, the spiciness and citrusy flavour is there but this chicken is more on the bland side. It has chicken cut in cubes with green and yellow pepper, caramelised onions, cashewnuts garnish with spring onions. The chicken is stir-fried and the roasted cashew adds a nutty flavour to it. For anyone who loves stir-fry can go for this. This dish is also perfect for children as well as there is no spiciness to it and they will love it.
Prawns with tamarind: Jumbo prawns with green and red bell pepper, tamarind and with a garnish of sesame seeds and spring onions. The prawns had a distinct smell because of the tamarind. They were hot and sweet. The prawns were a little soggy because they were coated. The chef said there was a miscommunication in the kitchen and somehow they ended up being coated. But for this particular dish, the prawns are meant to be cooked without coating. For people who love seafood, try this and take a risk.
Mango with sticky rice: This is one of Thailand’s beloved desserts. Having rice as dessert is somewhat intriguing but this is one which you cannot miss. The sticky rice is served with mangoes on top. On the side is a small bowl of coconut milk. Pour it on the rice and mix with the mango. Once you eat it, you will definitely finish the whole thing. The sweetness of the mangoes with the coconut milk compliments the rice in every bite. The rice was perfectly cooked. This dessert cannot be missed. This refreshing Thai dessert can be served after a spicy meal.

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