Monday, April 06, 2009

Dip, dip...dip - Thai dips/sauces

Dear foodies,

Thai cuisine faces the same misconception that Indian cuisine faces outside of its land, both are popularly thought of to be a single cuisine. Once you start looking closely though, and reading recipes you realize there are clear distinctions between the cuisines of each region. Thai cuisine can be divided into the food from the North, Northeast, Central and Southern regions of country. The food in each of these regions is influenced by its neighbors, the local produce and climate conditions. Today I am going to give you recipes for a couple of dips & sauces, with one of them coming from the Northeastern region of Thailand.

The food of the Northeast is known to lean more towards hot, salty & sour flavors and is influenced by the cuisine of Laos. They tend incorporate many condiments into their meals, be it rice & curries or roasted meat dishes. One such relish that I found in the book, A taste of the Far East by Madhur Jaffrey, is a Grilled Chilli and Tomato relish. It looks similar to a Mexican salsa but uses a different flavor combination. I started off with the basic recipe given in the book but added a few more ingredients as I went along making it. I've highlighted the changes I made, so you can follow the original recipe too.

Grilled Chilli and Tomato relish
(from Northeast Thailand)
Ingredients:
  • 3 nos - fresh, hot Green chillies or a combination of fresh red & green chillies
  • 3 nos - Shallots, cut in chunks
  • 5-6 - Cherry tomatoes
  • *2 Tbsp - Spring onions, chopped
  • *1 Tbsp - Chives, chopped
  • 2-3 tsp - Lime juice
  • 2-3 Tsp - Soy sauce
  • *2-3 - Basil leaves, roughly torn
  • Salt to taste - I used low sodium Tamari and so needed the extra salt.
Method:
  1. Set the oven on broil, spread the chillies, chopped shallots and cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet and broil for 5-6 mins. You could also do this on a grill or open flame. Be really careful with the chillies though when you do that. The fumes of the chili can get really strong, based on which kind you are using. Have the air vents in the kitchen open and be really cautious.
  2. Once they get a light char around the edges, transfer the chillies & onions to a mortar & pestle and pound together, next add the cherry tomatoes and blend to get a chunky consistency. You could also give them a rough chop before using the mortar.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and check for seasonings before serving.
Note: The ingredients with a '*' next to them are my additions to the recipe.
This is a flavor packed relish and you can adjust the heat by controlling the amount of chillies in it. I was overly ambitious and used half a tiny habanero :D It was a really hot, well, its known to be one of the hottest in the world, so no surprises there, duhh! The heat kicks in only after you are done chewing and you feel it in your throat. You guys can choose to be sane and use regular chillies instead :D Serve it with a thai meal, or with chips like you would any other salsa or....something more special ;-)

After the fresh salsa, I tried another one that is made from an ingredient that most pantry's have, Peanuts. I absolutely love peanuts and will eat them in any form. The inspiration for this sauce was drawn from many recipes, I looked at so many different versions online and finally ended up making a combination of them.
Chunky Peanut dipping sauce - Thai style
Ingredients:
  • 3 Tbsp - Peanuts, dry roasted & skinned
  • 4 Tbsp - Water
  • 2 tsp - toasted Sesame oil
  • 2 tsp - Soy sauce
  • 2 tsp - Jaggery /palm sugar
  • 1 tsp - Tamarind extract
  • 1 tsp - Chilli sauce
  • 1/2 tsp - Red curry paste - or more chilli paste
  • 1/4 tsp - Galangal, chopped (use ginger+lime juice as a substitute)
  • 1-2 tsp - Lime juice
  • Salt to taste - again, I used low sodium tamari.
Method:
  1. Place all the ingredients (except the lime juice) in a blender or mortar & pestle and blend to get a coarse consistency. Finally add the lime juice to balance out the flavors. It tends to reduce the saltiness of the recipe so check for seasonings before serving. You can use more water to thin out the sauce if needed.
This is a very versatile recipe that you can play with to highlight the flavors of your liking. The peanuts give a creamy chunky texture and are a perfect base to play with the rest of the ingredients. The sauce can be used as salad dressing, or as a dip for vegetables, I could eat it on its own by the spoonfuls :) There are soo many flavors playing different roles, and still in perfect harmony with each other in this sauce, and you will not get tired of it.

I made one more sauce, but I'm going to save it for a later post, okay ? Okay. Are you curious to see what I made to dip into these flavor packed sauces though? Here's a peak...

fresh spring rolls...
The recipe is coming up next, so have your dips and sauces ready by then :-) Off this goes to the event I am hosting, IAVW-Thai, originally started by Vaishali.

33 thoughts:

Sathya Sankar said...

Lovely dishes priya..pictures look gorgeous...:D

Indhu said...

lovely recipes... and lovelier pictures as usual :)

Superchef said...

great pics as usual...loved the relish recipe!!

Nirmala said...

Priya I couldn't stop drolling that too the chili salsa. I am totally sold :) The pics ae stunning!

Vishali said...

wow love em all !

Soma said...

You come up with such wonderful recipes Priya. I love that peanut sauce & very very eagerly waiting for that delicate looking surprise recipe.

i made something with a spciy peanut sauce yesterday:D

Anonymous said...

hi priya
Wohhhh!wonderful pictures!so tempting! the translucent look of spring rolls is appetizing.

Priya said...


Sathya, thank you :)

Indhu, thank you. I hope you get to try them too :)

Superchef, I was surprised to see a salsa' like Thai dish in the book and had to try it asap.

Nirmala, so start making some soooon :D I'm trying to find recipes other that the ubiquitous curries. I am sure you can get all the ingredients for these :)

Vishali, thank you :)

Soma, hehe, the post was getting too long and I did not have the heart to use fewer pics too, so had to break it into two posts :D Waiting for your recipe now, peanut and sauce can never go wrong :P

Anon, I liked how the ingredients peeked through the rolls too :) Keep visiting.

Pavani said...

Very tempting dips especially the peanut relish.. Love the dishes you used too.

veggie belly said...

great post! your dips are varied and interesting.

Pooh said...

Love, love, looooooooove the white dish you used to serve the relish. Wherever did you find it?

A_and_N said...

The peanut sauce! Gosh, I could do anything for them Priya.

are those rice wrappers? I plan to pick them up from Whole foods soon!

Red Chillies said...

Great looking dips Priya. My husband loves anything that has chillies in it. So I might try this sometime.

I have updated your feed in FoodWorld. I beleive it is nothing from your end. I am not sure why but sometimes, the threads on some of the blogs stop running. I then manually update them. It is no problem at all.

NIKKI said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and think it's fantastic. I have a bag of black eyed peas that I wasn't sure what to do with until I saw your recipe for "black-eyed peas shorva." Thank you! I have just started blogging myself. Check it out when you get a chance.

VIDYA VENKY said...

it looks so yummy...wow...pics r simply superb

Vidhya said...

The dips look awesome priya..But I was also admiring the dishes in which you presented them..Love the shape of the white thing and the color of the black thing..what a shame I am leaving comments about the dishes in which the food was served on a food blog..:)
waiting for the recipe of the rolls

Sandeepa said...

Those dips and sauces are exciting, hoping to see more intricacies of Thai cuisine here

Jaya said...

The spring rolls look like sushi :D (veggie sushi of course). Waiting for more Thai stunners!

Priya said...


Pavani, the peanut is my favorite too :)

Sala, I was amazed to find these recipes too, they were many more interesting ones in the cookbooks. I've bookmarked quite a few already.

Pooh, I got it at crate & barrel :)

A & N, good to see many peanut fans here :) we must be nuts :D (sorry, could not help the PJ) And you are right, those are rice roll wrappers. Have them handy by the time I post the recipe :P

RC, and it isn't just a coincidence that your blog is named after them :D Thank you so much for updating the links RC :)

Priya said...


Nikki, thanks for dropping by :) I've made that recipe 2-3 times already, let me know how you like it. You have some lovely recipes on your blog! Keep visiting.

Vidya, thank you, let me know you try them :)

Vidhya, you are not alone in looking at the dishes, I visit many blogs just to look at the gorgeous bowls & dishes they use. I find myself picking up random stuff every time I go shopping, and have a sheepish look at the counter for having one spoon or one bowl while everyone else is buying complete dinner sets :D

Sandeepa, I plan to try a few more recipes too. I am almost abusing the event to try out Thai recipes :D

Jaya, and there goes my appetite :-P Sang and Bugs are coming this weekend and are going to be my 'taste-testers' for a few recipes :D

Pooja said...

Priya, thanks! C&B, here I come!

Vani said...

Delicious sounding dips, Priya! Lovely pics too! I do ahve a dish in mind for your event. Gotta shop for groceries soon :)

Vaishali said...

Lovely dips, Priya. Going to the Thai restaurants here, one is used to seeing the same kinds of dishes, so it's great to learn more about the varied cuisines of the land, and in such a delicious way!

Miri said...

I just looove that peanut dip and make it every opportunity I can! the "salsa' type dip looks very delicious too!

Divya Vikram said...

Lovely dips!

Anitha said...

yummy recipe...

Premyscakes said...

lovely looking dips and sounds yummy too.

mitr_bayarea said...

The pictures bring out the flavor in your dips, smashing.

soums said...

Awesome..will try them @home :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Priya,
I have started to write a blog. Please do visit my food blog. www.sevenspice.wordpress.com
Thanks.
Sonu:)

pelicano said...

Hey! That's a nice, vegan version of tomato chile-water! That's very popular here- great for raw veggies! I am still shocked to see an Issarn recipe- hardly ever see them in the Thai restaurants and it is a shame indeed!

Your Viet salad rolls look splendid- better than mine ever did, and yes, you may send me those and some peanut sauce... :-)

karuna said...

wowow, these dips look amazing. loved ure little presentation.

Sudha said...

Priya - I tried the rice roll wraps (with different set of veggies) along with the peanut dipping sauce today (added some basil to this for some added freshness)...was yum...absolutely loved the rice wrappers..didnt know it was this easy to make until I read your post!! thanks again!!! I've tried a bunch of your recipes now and all of them turned out to be so good....Oh also I ended up making your version of thai style chickpeas on friday and that came out very well too...the proportion/measurement of ingredients in your recipe seems to be spot on...keep up the good work!!

Blogging tips