Thai Herbs and Spices

29 October, 2015

Thai Herbs and Spices

The second edition in our in-depth series of Asian herbs and spices

Thai cuisine is known for its delicate balance and emphasis on the five fundamental taste senses: sour, sweet, salty, bitter and spicy. Much of the balance is achieved by Thai’s liberal use of herbs and spices. Whether it’s Pad Thai, Massaman curry or Green curry, herbs and spices play a key role.


Lemongrass – is an essential in delivering Thai’s zesty citrus undertones and fresh fragrant aroma.  Lemongrass stalks need to be finely crushed or chopped before they are added to a dish.

Coriander – Coriander leaves are regularly used in Thai salads while the roots often are used in many Thai curry pastes.

Chilli – Whether you like it or not, spice is an essential part of Thai cuisine (though you can always tone it down if you want). Thai curry pastes are named after the chillies that are used i.e. green chillies in green curry paste and red chillies in red curry paste.

Ginger – Ginger root provides a warm, sweet and spiciness to any Thai dish.

Garlic – Garlic goes in anything from soups to curries and stir fries.

Mint – Mint leaves are often used in Thai salads to provide a sweet, cool taste to balance out the spicy.

Thai Basil – as opposed to sweet basil, Thai basil has a robust, anise flavour and provides a unique taste to many Thai curries and stir-fries.

Kaffir Lime – Kaffir lime’s leaves and fruit rind are essential in delivering Thai’s citrus, slightly bitter flavour. The rind is used in curry pastes and fish cakes while the whole leaves are used in a similar fashion to bay leaves in soups or shredded finely as a garnish.

Galangal – Galangal rhizome or roots are an essential element in Thai curries, satays, soups and sauces. It has a lemon-like sour taste which is described as a mix between ginger and cardamom.

For tips on how to perfect pair herbs and spices to create Thai meals from scratch, visit our Herb Pairing Guide.

Or try some of these authentic Thai dishes:

Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup

Thai Pan Fried Sticky Beef with Sweet and Sour Cucumber Salad

Hot Chilli Prawn Curry

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