Friday, January 23, 2009

An Ode to Thailand: Benjarong

There is so much more to Thai food than meets the eye. The subtle intricacies, the vast difference in the textures, flavours, the unusual marriage of fruits and vegetable in tangy curries always gets me thinking how to replicate the unique combinations. But what is most amazing about Thai cuisine is it's ability to be tangy and inviting to the palate, a twinge of sweetness balancing the sudden explosion of fiery hot chili that attacks your nasal track and definitely your alimentary system the next day.
Sometimes the heat is unbearable, the pain and agony my tummy goes through the next day wretched, but I am a true Thai addict. At least once a month I have a the urge to sample the sharp and stinging flavours of the cuisine my mind refuses to let go of!
I returned to Bangalore in November 2008 to discover that my old faithful Tai Tai had been shut down! Bummer. The city was a buzz with talk of Benjarong, but being a chain of restaurants with branches in Madras, now Bangalore and plans to take on Delhi I was skeptical about the quality of need. I was pleasantly surprised however and food my first encounter at Benjarong to be impressive, with a know how of using typically Thai ingredients the way Thai master chefs have been doing for centuries. I like the restaurant so much that after Sameer and I tested the place out we took the family back for New Years Dinner.
Mieng Kam is a typical healthy Thai hors d'oeurve. Diced onions, shredded dried coconut, red chilli's, peanuts, a sweet tamarind tasting sauce, lime quarters and galangal are put on peppery leaf, in this case spinach to be relished together and open your palate. To me it seemed like a Thai version of Indian paan.

Tom Kha, velvety thick coconut broth with kaffir lime leaves and corriander infused to develop the flavour of the soup along with a dash of fish sauce, and strips of chicken to relish the full bodied flavour.

The tenderloin braised with peppercorns and sweet Thai basil leaves was a real treat, the meat cooked perfectly into soft, strips.
Phad Prik Snapper was my favourite. The whole fish deep fried with ganagal, kaffir lime leaves,Thai basil and lemongrass coat the crispy deep fried snapper and sweet-chili sauce moistens the golden skin, a combination that is divine.
The Massaman Curry is indeed one of my standard orders at any Thai establishment. Benjarong's version is rather stylised, with thin slivers of meat with delicately diced potatoes, instead of the hearty stew it is served with chunky pieces of meat and tatters. The flavour component however has been left intact.
Tab Tim Grobb or Water Chestnuts in Coconut Milk is classic conclusion to Thai fare. At Benjarong, instead of using the entire water chestnut, uses only the inside 'red ruby' portion that the chestnut is supposed to yield upon boiling the entire nut. This is truly delectable, a dessert a truly relished, ordering my very own portion.

The banana fritters were supposed to come with coconut ice-cream, however I failed to taste or see any trace of coconut. My advice, stick to the water chestnuts, you just can't go wrong!

1/3 Ulsoor Road, Ulsoor, Bangalore
Phone 42066166


Anonymous said...

At Benjarong, instead of using the entire water chestnut, uses only the inside 'red ruby' portion that the chestnut is supposed to yield upon boiling the entire nut.

Er, no. That's red food colouring. The edible part of the water chestnut is white. It's not even a nut.

MEGalomaniac said...

I googled this to be sure. But I am going to investigate myself with some water chestnuts to confirm anonymous!