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Thai cave wild boar team and cravings

Wild Boar Team of football players in the Tham Luang Cave, asked for 'Pad Krapow Gai' – a perfect blend of salt and sour flavours - as the first item to eat when they came out of their ordeal.

The fragrance of basil leaves, stir-fried with chicken, complemented by a fried egg on top laid out on a bed of rice. Anyone who loves Thai food knows that 'Pad Krapow Gai' is versatility, combined with its unique salt and sour flavours.

It is no wonder that the Wild Boar Team of football players in the Tham Luang Cave asked for this comfort food as the first item to eat when they came out of their ordeal.

The streets of Bangkok and many places in Chiang Mai too feature a more popular and simplified recipe of pad kaprao. Chef Manisha Bhasin, Executive Chef of ITC Maurya, Delhi, says that it starts with adding crushed bird's eye chili and garlic in a smoky hot oiled pan or wok. In 2002 when Panasian was opened at ITC Sheraton, Pad Krapow Gai was also part of the ala carte menu.

"My first memory of having it was in Bangkok," reminisces Chef Manisha, adding, "and I thought it to be ideal for our restaurant as it had the right amount of birds eye chili and robust flavor of basil. The hand pounded chicken mince had intense Thai basil flavor which makes this dish very different from the other Asian preparations."

"It is fast and easy to make, and different from the regular Thai dishes. It pairs well with jasmine rice and hence is my favourite."

The first time I tasted this dish was at Chiang Mai in Thailand. Watching the Chefs create it in a jiffy at the open counters was fascinating. They toss in garlic into the hot oil on the wok. The chicken is added soon after the garlic colourises, where dark soy sauce is often added for more colour and depth of flavour. To this light soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar are sometimes accompanied by a dash of oyster sauce.

The most important ingredient, however, is the holy Thai basil leaves – the ingredient no pad kaprao can do without. These are added last, to ensure they do not wilt. It is the touch of verdant green that adds to the beauty of the dish.

It takes just a few minutes to prepare the dish which is served off the fire onto a plate. One of the world's best recipes belongs to the high priestess of haute cuisine Susan Jung.

Here's how you can savour the delight of your very own Pad Krapow Gai:-

-About 125 ml cooking oil

-500 grams boneless, skinless chicken leg, either minced or hand-chopped

-garlic cloves, chopped

-4 shallots, chopped

-12-15 fresh curry leaves

-6-10 red bird's eye chillies, chopped

-25 ml soy sauce

-10 ml Thai fish sauce

-25 ml oyster sauce

-30 grams holy basil leaves

-2-3 eggs, at room temperature

-Steamed white rice

Method

-Heat 80 ml cooking oil in a wok over a high flame. Add the garlic and stir-fry for a few seconds.

-Put the minced chicken and stir-fry, breaking up clumps of meat with the spatula. Cook until it loses its pink colour, then add the shallots and the curry leaves.

-Stir-fry the ingredients for about 30 seconds, then mix in the chillies, soy sauce, fish sauce and oyster sauce.

-Reduce the heat to medium, scrape the ingredients to the centre of the wok and simmer for a couple of minutes.

-Stir in the holy basil leaves.

-Heat the remaining oil in a skillet. Crack the eggs, add them to the skillet and fry until they're crisp at the edges, with a runny yolk.

-Put the rice on two or three plates, add the chicken mixture then top each portion with a fried egg before serving.

Uma Nair

Uma Nair

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