THE MOVEABLE FEAST : The Yin Yang’s multi hued curries
I was leading up to Red Curry at The Yin Ying by slowly nibbling on the Thai version of a kebab — the Satay which came to Thailand with Arabs and Muslim Indian traders in the early BC.
The Satay comprises small pieces of meat marinated in soy sauce, lemon juice, ginger, garlic and onions, which is 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. From Thailand the Satay spread to Indonesia then the world. The Yin Yang which is located in a neo Rana building with a small garden on the ground floor and large dining spaces up a flight of stairs is in Thamel left off the Kathmandu Guest House as you face it. And it is run by my host Martin Krommer while further down the road is his partner Tejendra’s Third Eye.
Martin Krommer says, “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”
He is echoing in part what food writer Madhur Jaffrey says in her Ultimate Curry Bible, “I love Thai food with unholy passion and the way they almost explode with tropical aromas that make them so addictive”.
The Red Curry which I chose (as against the yellow or the green) came to Martin and me 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.
It was the Muslim traders who brought with them the Musaman Curry which I crave for. It is slightly sweet thanks to the palm juice or brown sugar used and it too has a paste as do all Thai curries (not just the many coloured ones) contain such exotic ingredients as lemon grass, galangal or ginger and a variety too numerous to mention. Ms Jaffrey advises that the potato that you use in Musaman Curry must be slightly waxy and peanuts and potatoes and a little curry powder make it wondrous.
It was a Thai millionaire who I once dined with who insisted and reflected a 1930’s and 1940’s Thai prime minister, that I try Pad Thai a sort of symbol of Thai nationalism. At Yin Yang the rice noodles are delicately bathed in ginger, bean sprouts, tofu and vegetables. The result is sweet and a sauce made from fish and tamarind juice emerges as you eat.
Of all of Thailand’s many salads Yam Sam Sa Hai is a spicy salad mixed with slices of chicken, pork
and prawn stirred in a sauce of fish and lemon. You go from the crunch of the vegetables to the soft of the meats and there is a faint taste of fish over a distinct taste of lemon.
There are 55 Thai dishes at Yin Yang and there are a whole lot of continental dishes which may be one reason why the restaurant is called Yin Yang I must ask Martin Krommer.
You can’t say it generally about food but the satisfaction is guaranteed.