Suan Sunandha Palace was the permanent residence of Mom Chao Sai Ladawan (HRH Princess Saisawali Phirom, พระวิมาดาเธอ หม่อมเจ้าสาย ลดาวัลย์), the Royal Consort to Rama V. In the kitchen of Suan Sunandha Palace, the Princess presided over a peak era of culinary innovation until her passing on June 24, 1929. Reflecting her practicality, the Princess’ recipes frequently incorporated the era’s common pantry ingredients in new and surprising combinations.
For example, in her boat-embarking chili relish (น้ำพริกลงเรือ; naam phrik lohng reuua), a relish still enjoyed today, the Princess pairs fermented shrimp paste chili relish with sweet pork, crispy fried fish, salted duck eggs and hairy-fruited eggplant (maeuk) (มะอึก). Another example is her gaaeng ran juaan (แกงรัญจวน) – the Princess prepares a vibrant spicy and sour soup, fragrant with the aroma of Thai basil, from the leftovers of a stir-fried beef dish and fermented shrimp paste chili relish, which she cooked together with lemongrass, shallots and garlic.
Mom Chao Sai Ladawan’s recipes, many already recreated here at Thaifoodmaster, were recorded by Princess Sadap Ladawan (เจ้าจอมหม่อมราชวงศ์สดับลดาวัลย์), a key figure in the Palace’s culinary affairs, and subsequently compiled and published by Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University in a volume dedicated to seasoned rice dishes and chili relishes. They include:
- Crispy Rice – Khaao Graawp (ข้าวกรอบ)
- Fermented shrimp paste relish curried soup (แกงรัญจวน; gaaeng ran juaan)
- Boat embarking chili relish (น้ำพริกลงเรือ; naam phrik lohng reuua)
- A relish of Chinese salted black olives (น้ำพริกหนำเลี๊ยบ; naam phrik nam liiap)
- Clear soup with stuffed rambutan (แกงจืดก้อนแก้ว; gaaeng jeuut gaawn gaaeo)
- Rice baked in banana blossom (ข้าวในปลีกล้วย; khaao nai bpleek luay)
- Grilled banana leaf parcels filled with seasoned rice (ข้าวปิ้ง; khaao bping)
- Grilled banana leaf parcels filled with butter-fried rice with chicken (ข้าวงบไก่ อาจาดอังวะ ; khaao ngohp gai aajaat angwa)
- Grilled banana leaf parcels with shrimp curried rice (ข้าวงบกุ้ง)
- Beef Curry Seasoned with Fermented Shrimp Paste Chili Relish (แกงรัญจวน ; gaaeng ranjuaan)
In this dish called khaao graawp (ข้าวกรอบ), or “crispy rice” the Princess seasons cooked jasmine rice with chili jam, and adds four fried components, each highlighting a different element of the crispiness indicated by the dish’s name.
While the preparation of these culinary staples may seem complex and labor-intensive, these intricate and time-consuming measures were often deployed in order to extend the shelf life of ingredients in the Siamese kitchens of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which lacked refrigeration.
To prepare the dish, Mom Chao Sai Ladawan seasons fluffy, cooked jasmine rice with a sour-sweet-salty deep-red, rich and vibrant chili jam. She then mixes in:
- Fried segmented bean pieces (ถั่วแขกทอดกรอบ; thuaa khaaek thaawt graawp). The bean pieces are deep-fried in pork lard to a glossy dark-green appearance, retaining their crispiness and serving as a pleasant visual contrast to the red-tinted rice.
Crispy beef threads (เนื้อฝอยทอดกรอบ; neuua faawy thaawt graawp), pulled from cooked meat, and then caramelized with sugar into sweet-salty crispy threads.
Roasted golden coconut (มะพร้าสคั่วกรอบ; maphraat khuaa graawp), which brings a rich crunchy and nutty flavor to the dish.
To decorate the dish, the Princess fries salted duck egg yolks (ไข่เค็มชุบแป้งทอด ; khai khem choop bpaaeng thaawt) by dipping small pieces of the yolks into a batter of rice flour and egg white, and then frying them until golden.
I like to add fluffy rice, which I make by roasting cooked and sundried grains of jasmine rice until they puff up. If you really want to crisp things up another notch, try substituting the jasmine rice with fluffy rice.
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- 3 cups cooked rice (ข้าวสวย)
- 1 1/5 tablespoons chili jam (น้ำพริกเผา)
- 1/2 cup roasted coconut (มะพร้าวคั่ว)
- 1/2 cup Crispy sweet pork or beef threads (หมูเค็มผัดฝอย ; muu khem phat faawy)
For the fried salted duck egg yolk
- 1 raw salted duck egg yolk (ไข่แดงเค็มดิบ)
- 1 chicken egg whites (ไข่ขาวของไข่ไก่)
- 1 teaspoon cassava flour (แป้งมัน)
For the fried beans
- yardlong beans (ถั่วฝักยาว) sliced into pointed short segments
- pork lard (น้ำมันหมู)
- Season the rice with chili jam, mix well until all the rice is evenly tinted. Add the roasted coconut, the crispy sweet pork or beef thread and the fried yardlong beans. mix well. top with raw salted duck egg yolk, fried in batter.