11 July 2024

A culinary masterpiece comprising a collection of cookbooks inspired by the memoirs of Thanphuying Prasarnsuk Tantivejkul, the esteemed royal chef of King Rama IX and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother, who served the royal family for an impressive 40 years, is to go on sale next month.

Published by the Chaipattana Foundation and titled “Bantuek Nuek-Aroi”, this gastronomic endeavour does not just bring together a collection of recipes for the delight of cooks everywhere but also aims to preserve the invaluable cultural heritage of Thai cuisine, a tradition passed down through generations.

Despite the increasing popularity of Thai cuisine, traditional recipes face the threat of being lost to time in the ever-evolving culinary landscape. This cookbook series seeks to weave together narratives of Thai culinary artistry, featuring not just recipes but also precious nuggets of culinary wisdom. At the recent book launch, attendees had the opportunity to discover old and hard-to-find dishes like Sago clear soup or Kang Khao Puek (deep-fried taro).

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn graciously permitted the Chaipattana Foundation to produce and sell the cookbooks of Thanphuying Prasarnsuk Tantivejkul to raise funds for the foundation. The Princess also bestowed the book with the name “Bantuek Nuek-Aroi” and wrote the foreword, stating, “This is not just about raising funds for good causes. Besides making merit, you will also get delicious food (from the recipes).”

Dr. Sumet Tantivejkul, Secretary-General of the Chaipattana Foundation and the only child of Thanphuying Prasarnsuk, mentioned at the launch that it took eight months to complete the books. The memoirs, written 21 years ago, comprised his mother’s notes and drawings, along with information collected from the cookbooks of various royal courts such as Saprathum, Ban Mo, and Khlong Toey palaces. The text and recipes also came from acquaintances, such as courtiers and governors, including Princess Chongjit Tanom, Princess Ditsakul, and Khun Maneerat Bunnak.

Dr. Sumet Tantivejkul, Secretary-General of the Chaipattana Foundation

The book series records daily menu plans and dish decorations of the late King Rama IX and HM Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother, providing a glimpse into the dietary habits of their majesties. The royal meals, though simple in appearance, were rich in nutritional value, exemplifying the royal couple’s commitment to healthy and wholesome dining.

One of the unique aspects of Thai cuisine is that ancient recipes often lack exact measurements, relying on the skills of each cook to intuitively add ingredients to each dish. The challenge lies in recreating the original flavours without precise measurements, as traditional Thai recipes depend on the chef’s expertise, using techniques such as “grab a handful” or “use a bowl” but without specifying the size.

The book series comprises four volumes:

* Volume 1: “With Rice, With Fish” delves into the culinary traditions of the palace, exploring the cultural significance of palace cuisine, the adaptation to local ingredients, and sharing culinary knowledge and tips.

* Volume 2: “Tom Yum, Making Curries” narrates the tales of curries, tom yum, and various spicy salads, akin to works of art blending diverse Thai herbs into a harmonious culinary symphony.

* Volume 3: “Rice Dishes, Noodle Dishes” introduces single-dish recipes from Thai, Chinese, and Western cuisines, recounting stories of fried rice variations, the intricacies of making dumplings, and more.

* Volume 4: “Snacks and Desserts” unveils the secrets of dessert preparation, covering both traditional Thai and international treats, accompanied by historical anecdotes.

“Bantuek Nuek-Aroi” will be available for sale from December 1 at leading bookstores. The set is priced at 1,500 Baht. All proceeds from sales will go to the Chaipattana Foundation.

Thai PBS World Feature desk