Thailand’s cooling rice dish to beat the heat

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When Thailand’s Buddhist New Year, called Songkran, arrives in April, the weather gets extremely hot. People look for ways to cool off, like having water fights or enjoying a refreshing dish called khao chae.

Khao chae is a traditional Thai dish that helps beat the heat. It’s made with jasmine rice soaked in ice-cold water scented with flowers like jasmine, ylang ylang, and roses. The dish has a long history, originally enjoyed by the Mon people centuries ago.

Over time, khao chae became more elaborate, especially among Thailand’s royal family. The rice is carefully washed to remove starch, then soaked in fragrant flower water. The flowers are picked at just the right time to capture their aroma without going bad.

Alongside the rice, there are many side dishes like shrimp paste dumplings, vegetables, and pickles. These add different flavors and textures to the meal. Eating khao chae is a unique experience because you alternate between the rice and side dishes to keep the flavors fresh.

While khao chae used to be a dish mainly enjoyed by the elite, it has become more popular among all Thai people in recent years. Chefs are exploring traditional dishes like khao chae, and it’s now even more accessible during Songkran, providing a delicious way to cool down and celebrate.

During Songkran, when temperatures are soaring and the sun is blazing, khao chae offers a welcome respite. Its delicate flavors and refreshing qualities make it a perfect dish for the occasion.

Originally, khao chae was a dish associated with royalty, crafted with meticulous care and served in the grandest manner. However, as Thai culture evolves and embraces its heritage, khao chae has found its way into the hearts and homes of people from all walks of life.

Today, chefs and home cooks alike are rediscovering the art of making khao chae, preserving its rich history while adding their own creative touches. Social media has played a significant role in popularizing this traditional dish, showcasing its vibrant colors and intricate presentation to a global audience.

As Thailand celebrates Songkran and the arrival of the new year, khao chae serves as a reminder of the country’s cultural richness and culinary diversity. Whether enjoyed at a bustling street food stall or a fine dining restaurant, this iconic dish continues to delight taste buds and evoke a sense of tradition and nostalgia.

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