What herbs and spices are used in Thai food?
Authentic Thai cuisine uses a variety of fresh herbs and spices that make each dish flavorful and delicious. These ingredients are what make Thai cuisine special and unique, but combining them requires time and skill.
If you’ve had Thai food before, you were probably surprised at how balanced the sweetness and sourness of the dish was. Such contrasting flavors working so well together is created from scratch by tasting, adjusting, and grinding herbs and spices to perfection.
Here is a list of spices and herbs that are common in Thai dishes.
Basil is popular in Thai dishes because of its sweet flavor. It is used for flavoring and as a vegetable in many of our most popular dishes. Basil only releases its aroma when cooked, but fresh basil leaves are usually green with a tinge of red-purple. Fish, chicken, and beef are among the dishes that use basil leaves to an interesting, sweet flavor.
Cinnamon is a common spice in many western dishes, but the specific type of cinnamon used in Thai cuisine is from the Cassia tree. Its powder comes from the bark of this tree and is used in a variety of dishes, including massamun curry.
Cinnamon powder has medicinal benefits as well, such as curbing exhaustion and promoting vitality. So be sure to order the massamun curry the next time you need a pick me up!
Thai cuisine uses both the stems and leaves of coriander for seasoning. They have an intense, deep flavor that makes soups, sauces, and curry pastes refreshing. Coriander leaves are added to dishes as decoration while its roots are the main ingredient in many Thai soups.
Authentic Thai cuisine also uses coriander seeds that have a citrus, nutty, lemony flavor. These seeds are dried, roasted, and then pounded to a powder before cooking. They reduce stomach aches and boost your appetite, making them a great spice when you plan on ordering lots of food.
All Thai curries use cumin due to its strong and warm aroma. It is dry roasted and pounded before mixing in red or green curry. Choose which curry dish you prefer as they will all be delicious thanks to the cumin used to make it.