Dating from the early 1900s, this tempting fried rice dish highlights how the Siamese aristocracy savored their golden rice, perfumed with an alluring blend of imported spices. The dish can be enjoyed on its own or as part of a larger meal featuring curries and soups. One popular dish, khaao boo ree (ข้าวบุหรี่อย่างแขก), was cooked in the Muslim tradition with saffron and milk, and topped with threads of pulled chicken breast, mint and crispy fried shallots.
In this fried rice recipe, the fluffy and fragrant rice is fried in ghee, attaining its golden sheen and warmth from a sumptuously earthy paste infused with the enticing aromas of faraway lands. The paste is made by pounding chestnuts with dry spices and aromatics such as ginger, garlic and shallots.
I like to add chopped chestnuts to the dish for their slight crunchiness and nutty, velvety flesh, which contrasts beautifully with the luscious fried rice grains. The dish is simply seasoned with sea salt and accompanied by finely diced fresh tomatoes and hand-picked mint leaves, each contributing a refreshing burst of lightness to the rich, caramelized rice grains.
The tiny cubes of vibrant red tomatoes, sparkling like precious gems in the sunlight, are infused with the juicy sweetness and cooling tanginess imparted from the warmth of the sun as the fruit ripened in the fields. The green mint leaves add a refreshing and rejuvenating touch, cutting through the opulence of the buttery fried rice. It’s worth noting that mint leaves are renowned for their natural digestive properties, providing a refreshing and soothing sensation after this delectable meal.
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- 3 cups cooked rice (ข้าวสวย)
- 1 tablespoon clarified butter (ghee) (เนยกี) or coconut cream (หัวกะทิ)
- 1 cup Thai chestnuts (ลูกเกาลัด) grilled, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup large tomatoes (มะเขือเทศ) deseeded and diced
For the paste:
- 1 tablespoon ginger (ขิง)
- 1 tablespoon Thai garlic (กระเทียมไทย)
- 1 tablespoon shallots (หอมแดง)
- 1/2 cup Thai chestnuts (ลูกเกาลัด)
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (malet phak chee) (เมล็ดผักชี) (S2) roasted and ground
- 1/2 teaspoon Siam Cardamom pods (luuk grawaan) (ลูกกระวาน) (S4) roasted and ground
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg seed (ลูกจันทน์เทศ) (S5) roasted and ground
- 1/2 teaspoon clove (กานพลู) (S7) roasted and ground
- 2 teaspoons turmeric powder (ผงขมิ้น)
- sea salt (เกลือทะเล)
- large tomatoes (มะเขือเทศ) sliced or diced
- mint leaves (ใบสะระแหน่)
- chicken breast (อกไก่) cooked and pulled into thin threads
Prepare the paste:
- Roast the coriander seeds, Siam cardamom pods, cloves and nutmeg seed in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant. Remove from heat and allow them to cool.
- Peel and chop the garlic, shallots and ginger.
- Pound the roasted coriander seeds, Siam cardamom pods, cloves and nutmeg seed in a mortar and pestle until they are finely ground.
- Add the Thai chestnuts (ลูกเกาลัด), chopped garlic, shallots and ginger to the mortar and pestle; continue pounding until everything is well combined.
- The paste is now ready to be used in the fried rice recipe.
Cook the rice:
- To cook the rice, simply use a rice cooker and cook normally according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once done, fluff the rice with a fork and set aside.
Prepare the chicken:
- Cook the chicken breast in boiling water.
- Once cooked, remove the chicken and pull the meat into threads while the chicken is still warm. Set aside.
Fry the rice:
- In a wok, melt one tablespoon of ghee over medium-high heat.
- Add the chestnut-aromatics paste to the ghee and stir-fry until fragrant.
- Add the cooked rice to the wok and stir-fry for 3-5 minutes, making sure all the grains are coated with the paste and evenly fried.
- Add a handful of chopped grilled chestnuts to the wok and continue stir-frying until the chestnuts are lightly toasted and the rice is golden and fragrant.
- Add the fresh diced tomatoes.
- Season with sea salt to taste and mix well.