Thai cuisine encompasses four distinct regional variations: Northern, Northeastern, Central, and Southern. Each region blends food derivations from adjacent countries;
Added to the four regional variations is the Thai Royal Cuisine, the history of which dates back some 700 years to the Ayutthaya kingdom / period. Its refinement, cooking techniques and use of ingredients were of great influence to the cuisine of the Central Thai plains. The Thai cuisine, and that of its neighbors, has provided cross-border influences for almost a millenium…
Subtle differences abound; Southern Thai curries tend to include coconut milk and fresh turmeric, while north-eastern dishes often incorporate lime juice. The cuisine of north-eastern Isan shares characteristics with southern Laos. In contrast, northern Thailand has similarities with northern Laos, the Shan state of Burma, and Yunnan in southern China.
Many popular dishes eaten in Thailand originate in China, primarily because Chinese immigrants make up 10% of the Thai population overall. Dishes such as jok (rice porridge), kwai tiew, rad na and khao kha mu are amongst those. Obvious Chinese influences include the wok, not to mention techniques such as stir-frying, and the introduction of various forms of noodles.
Some classic northern Thai dishes, such as Khao Soi, were originally brought into northern Thailand by Yunnanese Moslem traders, centuries ago. Other Thai recipes are thought to be versions of dishes originating in the cuisine of India and Persia.
Thai food did not become known to Western palates until the 1960s, when American, Australian and New Zealand troops were present in large numbers during the Vietnam War era. Subsequently, an increase in tourism combined to expose many more Westerners to the delights of Thai cuisine. These days, Thai restaurants can be found in almost every city in the world.
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