When it comes to Asian herbs and spices, Thailand is one of the countries which are rich of herbs and spices commonly found in Thai foods. The tropical climate of Thailand provides this country sunlight all year around to grow a lot of tropical herbal plants. Just like any countries in Asia, cuisines from Thailand are also rich of herbs and spices just like Tom Yam which is well known for its combination of spicy, sweet and sour flavor that make this signature dish very famous. To learn more about the Thailand herbs and spices the list below may give you broad information how rich Thailand is when it comes to tropical herbal plants.
Thai Sweet Basil
The first Thailand herbs and spices you should know which is commonly found in Thai food is Thai sweet basil. Thai sweet basil is actually one of the basil varieties which is native to Southeast Asia, especially Thailand. Don’t be fooled by the name ‘sweet basil’ this herb is actually quite spicy with the trace of anise and licorice. It could be said that Thai sweet basil is one of the secrets of Thai food that make their cuisines stand out from others.
Just like all kinds of basil varieties, there are a lot of health benefits of basil and Thai sweet basil is not only used in food but also used due to its medical properties. Thai sweet basil is so rich of Vitamin K and some traces of Vitamin C, so this herb is really good for bone health as well as cardiovascular health.
If you have taste Tom Yam and so fond of that Thai food; one of the secret is galangal. It is a certain type of rhizome with quite strong aromatic commonly found in Asia cuisines especially Thai food. The look is quite similar with ginger or curcuma but galangal texture is harder than ginger and the color is not yellow like curcuma varieties. If you smell it and then you will know the different of this rhizome with ginger or curcuma varieties.
When it comes to the health benefits of galangal, the list is quite long but the well known ones are galangal is great for deal with some various stomach conditions. It could be a great home remedy for bloating and even diarrhea.
Well, when it comes to Thai food, turmeric is one of the herbs commonly found. It is quite difficult to find Thai food without this herb from curry soup up to fried fish, turmeric is in the top of ingredient list. In Thai food, not only the rhizome which has bright yellow color that is used to cook but also its flower and the leaves. The flower is usually added to the curry soup or eaten raw while the leaves were used in fish barbeque.
Not only in Thai food, turmeric is quite popular herbs in many Southeast Asia dishes because not only its ability to give unique flavor and color to the cuisines but also due to the health benefits of turmeric. Turmeric is rich of anti-inflammatory properties that could help relieving some conditions like rheumatism and arthritis.
The name finger root comes from its shape which similar to fingers. It is one of the varieties of rhizome commonly found in Asia cuisines, including Thai food. The locals call it as krachai while Indonesia and Malaysia may call it temu kunci. This rhizome is giving cuisines like curry which is heavy with coconut milk a trace of fresh flavor. Don’t mistaken it with ginger though its health benefits are as long as the health benefits of ginger root.
Finger root is very easy to grow in Thailand as well as other regions of Asia with tropical climate. Furthermore, its health benefits are quite impressive because some studies even stated that finger root is excellent energy booster and commonly used to improve sexual performance in men while for breastfeeding mothers, finger root is great for lactation production.
One of the signature dish of Thai food is seafood from fish, squid, scrimp and many more. Well, one of the problems with seafood is the ‘muddy’ or ‘after-taste’ flavor that sometimes appear that could affect the flavor of a dishes. Well, one of the health benefits of spearmint leaves are used to suppress that ‘muddy’ taste to keep the flavor of the dishes perfect.
Spearmint is one of the varieties of mint plant and could be found in some countries other than Thailand like Middle East, China and even Europe. Spearmint has a lot of medical properties and one of them is to help improving appetite, especially for those who are currently in recovery state.
Thai food is not Thai food without chili. Not only any variety of chili, Thai food has its own type of chili which is small and super spicy. The locals call it Phrik khi nu suan which has literal meaning ‘garden mouse dropping chili’. This kind of chili usually made into chili paste as addition to their signature dishes and especially made for those who love hot stuff in their plates.
Just like any chili varieties, the hotter the chili the richer it is of vitamin C. It means, one of the health benefits of chili is as excellent immunity booster, especially for those who are currently in recovery state after severe illness. Spicy food is also great to help dealing with conditions like fever or flu though too much of chili could cause conditions like diarrhea, so consume it wisely for its health benefits.
One more tropical herbal plants that Thai people cannot leave without is bay leaves. All kinds of soup from curry soup which is rich of coconut milk up to fresh sea food soup are using bay leaves to improve the flavor. Bay leaves could be used in dried form or fresh form though fresh form will give more benefits of bay leaves than the dried form but even dried form still work as great as fresh leaves in foods.
Among the locals, bay leaves are not great for foods but also excellent to treat diabetes because it could be consumed as tea that is effective to manage the level of blood sugar level. It is also quite rich of antioxidants that make bay leaves excellent solution to fight free radicals and prevent cancer.
Among Asian, cardamom is one of the herbs they should have in their kitchen. Cardamom is also one of the herbs commonly found in Thai foods due to its aromatic and spicy flavor and of course for the sake of health benefits of cardamom. Actually, cardamom is native to India but its popularity makes this herb commonly found in all kinds of Asian cuisines, including Thai food.
Cardamom is great source of vitamin C and some minerals especially manganese that make this herb is great for cardiovascular health. Iron in cardamom could help conditions caused by iron deficiency like anemia while its aromatic compounds could be used as aromatherapy used in anti-depressant therapy.
One of the unique things of Thai food is its spicy flavor. It means, the cuisines are using all kinds of spicy stuff they could find like the green peppercorns. While most Asian cuisines are using either white peppers or black peppers, Thai foods are also adding green peppercorns to their cuisines. The green peppercorns has softer texture and less spicy but still it is not something your tongue will love if you don’t fond to spicy food but when it comes to the health benefits of peppercorns even the green ones are also excellent source.
The best thing about Asian peppers is its piperine compounds that could help optimizing the absorption of certain vitamins like vitamin B complex and beta-carotene. Furthermore, it is also a great source of some antioxidants like polyphenol and carotenes.
As mentioned above, there are a lot of countries in Asia regions where herbal plants could grow easily in the wild. Not only Thailand herbs and spices, there are also a lot of Indonesian herbs and the health benefits which have a lot of similarities because actually those two countries are located in the same regions with the same climate and grow the same herbal plants.