The Miang Kham is a light, refreshing start to any meal, and it was what I started with when I sat down for a meal which promised me some delights from Phuket, a place I long to go to for a holiday. At Benjarong, the Phuket food festival has started off recently, and the chef explained to me that the best part about the food from that region was the influences it received from the tourists and travellers, and therefore, the food, at times, was much milder than the rest of Thailand, and displayed a few characteristics which showed tones of European way of cooking.
Keeping this in mind, we started off with some Pak Bung Tod Prik Pon, crispy fried spinach tossed with garlic and chillies. The spinach leaves were deep fried and tossed with garlic and chillies, where the heat from the chillies were not overwhelming and rather enjoyable (especially if you are thinking of settling with a glass of beer on the side with this), although the final result ended up being a bit on the soggy side.
The Goong Pahd Bai Phakchi Lae Prik were skewers of prawn, slathered with a thick chilli-coriander-lime glaze, and grilled. There was a bowl of hot sauce with the prawns to dunk these in, and these disappeared rather quickly.
However, I have to say that one of my favourite dishes this afternoon was the Khanom Jin Namprik Pow, steamed rolls of noodles served with a bowl of minced chicken flavoured with soy and chilli. The dish was dead simple, and yet, it was one where I was compelled to take yet another heaping spoonful of the chicken mixture, put it on top of the rolls, and consume. The hot dip with the rolls at room temperature proved to be a rather entertaining combination of flavours and texture.
The Gai Yard Sai Prik Bai Horappa was recommended to me highly, so I tasted it with a great deal of expectation. Pieces of chicken has been flattened, and then stuffed with chicken mince, then rolled, grilled and served on a bed of thick peanut-basil sauce. The rolls were nice but the peanut basil sauce, to me, was quite bland, and could have improved vastly with more flavours in it.
I was quite interested in tasting the Khua Kling (with chicken), which is a rather famous dry meat curry served in Southern Thailand. I loved the addition of Kaffir lime, and the rather refreshing feeling it lent to this dish, and lapped it up with some fragrant jasmine rice. This was the dish I helped myself to, because it was such a comforting thing to have! In fact, I skipped dessert, because I was too full afterwards!
The Phuket Food Festival is on at Benjarong right now, and will continue till the 14th of February, 2016. These dishes and more are on offer, and a meal for two would roughly cost 2000/- plus tax, and they are open for both lunch and dinner.
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee was invited to the Phuket Food Festival at Benjarong.