Chef Seefah is back home in Thailand for inspiration to launch a street food festival in Bandra next week
Those who've moved cities to pursue work or academics would agree that the best comfort comes in the form of familiar flavours from home. So, if you're having a bad day, it's likely that a helping of gol gappa made just the way you remember it from your kitchen at home, would help more than the best vada pav in town. However, finding authentic flavours can get a tad tricky, especially if you've moved countries. But, if you're a chef, like Seefah Ketchaiyo, then you'll do what you can to introduce people to food from back home exactly how you remember it.
It's her love for street food she grew up eating in the old city part of Thailand like like Charansanitwong, where the flavours remain true to the traditional, that's driven the Mumbai-based chef to explore before replicating the dishes in Bandra at an upcoming three-day carnival of street food, shopping, and cultural arts. The Thailand Street Festival is being organised in celebration of The Tourism Authority of Thailand's (TAT) 60th anniversary in partnership with Seefah (Bandra), Vivaah Makers and Thai Airways. "I had to come back to source ingredients that lend their unique flavour to the dishes. Like the noodles that need to be freshly-made, and Thai coconut, which is sweeter, creamier and fresher. Even the fleshy part is soft and used for dessert here. Then, there's Thai mango, without which the menu would be incomplete. I love the Alphonso, but it's not mango season in Mumbai," she tells us from Vietnam, where she's stopped over for a few days before she heads back to Thailand and finally, Mumbai. She will also be bringing back 10 chefs to cook with her team here, besides cooking equipment, making sure everything is as authentic as it gets.
Thai hot pot
But this visit has been different in many ways. Firstly, she's staying in old city, not new city like the other times, because that's the hub for Thai food that hasn't been hybridised to suit tourists like in the newer part of town. "The newer parts are too commercial and so is the food. For example, tom yam is supposed to be really spicy and sour, but in new city (Sukhumvit) it's more like a clear soup as the flavours have been toned down so much. Thai food isn't supposed to be oily at all, full of herbs and each dish has multiple refreshing flavours," she tells us.
Some of the common dishes that she will be introducing here include phad Thai, grills, kanom krok (traditional Thai dessert), mango sticky rice, khao suey and tom yam. "You get the Burmese khao suey in India, not the traditional Thai one. Then there's som tam, that's eaten with papaya salad, grilled chicken and sticky rice to give a whirlwind of textures and flavours. In an era when fusion Thai food is becoming increasingly popular, I still need the authentic flavours irrespective of their presentation," Seefah says.
Som tam with grilled chicken and sticky rice
She was also joined on her culinary escapades by chef Pablo Naranjo Agular from Colombia. "He also wanted to wat the way the locals do. So, we ate a lot of pork, tenderloin and papaya," she tells us.
Chefs Seefah, Pablo (front) and Karan Bane (in grey)
Besides this, there will also be dance and music performances, muay Thai, and handicraft demonstrations. You also have to 'Bring Your Own Bottle', with water drums available for refilling.
On February 21, 4 pm to 9 pm; 22 and 23, 1 pm to 9 pm
At Corona Garden, 11, St John Baptist Road, Bandra West
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