THE MOVEABLE FEAST: A perfect balance
There is one sentence in Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Bible that has me returning to the Yin Yang in Thamel over and over again. Madam Jaffrey, who has launched a thousand meals says, “With their rainbow names — green, red, yellow... I
love Thai curries with an unholy passion.”
Martin Krommer, our Swiss host, suggested the red curry but I sort of led up to it with the Chicken Satay, which Khun Deng, the lady Chef of Yin Yang, said was as much part of Thailand as it is of Indonesia. The Satay comprises small pieces of meat marinated in soy sauce, lemon juice, ginger, garlic and onions, then threaded on skewers and grilled. They are served with a spicy peanut sauce and a cucumber, onion vinegar relish. You go from the taste of grilling to the distinct taste of peanuts and then the vinegar flavour.
“ I love Thai food. As a traveller I found myself returning to Thailand and things Thai over and over again. I was taught Thai food by our first Thai Chef and it was a fascinating experience,” said Krommer.
Balance in all things, the Yin Yang has Bishwo Ram Dulal, who cooked in Dubai as Continental Chef, serving a hearty French onion soup and Goat Cheese Ravioli that my friend Alexander declared delectable.
Tofu was invented thousands of years ago by a prince in search of immortality. At Yin Yang, it comes beautifully presented — meat filled with cabbage rolls and mushrooms and is both textured and tasty with coriander for zing.
And so to the red curry served by Mohan Shrestha. It came to us classically served with bamboo shoots and thickened with coconut milk. It was mildly spiced, and brinjals and potatoes and the chicken and a sudden capsicum added flavours. ‘The rainbow curries’ are made from pastes and the red curry paste has red chillies, lemon grass, kaffir lime, shrimp paste, cumin, coriander and bright red paprika. You blend it all together and as the mixture churns you get wonderful aromas.
Another favourite of mine at the Yin Yang is the Musaman Curry, which Jaffrey says probably came from the word Musalman or Muslims who landed on Thai shores as traders. The curry is slightly sweet but has divinely Indian flavours because it contains curry powder along with cinnamon, coriander and cumin. Potatoes, peanuts and coconut milk give it additional taste that its first ancestors must have lacked.
A Thai millionaire, who made as fortune from sunken treasures, said that I must balance a Thai meal with rice noodles in a Phad Thai dish; so we had Phad Thai Pak, where the rice noodles were delicately bathed in ginger, bean sprouts tofu and vegetables. The result is slightly sweet and a sauce emerges that is addictive and magical.
We finished with the best (in my opinion) of Thailand’s many salads Yam Sam Sa Hai, which is a spicy salad mixed with slices of chicken, pork and prawn, stirred in a sauce of fish and lemons. The salad is occasionally crunchy from the vegetables, occasionally soft from the meats, and there is a distinct taste of lemon over the faint taste of fish.
Another perfectly balanced Yin Yang dish.
There are 55 Thai dishes available at Yin Yang, and then the continental ones. I am going to ask Martin Krommer to let me go through his entire menu several times over, Yin Yanging between Thai and Continental, forever satisfied.