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Riverside recipes

It's not often that a recipe book comes to life, but on a recent visit to Thailand, this was my special privilege. From the rather understated title I could not have known what treasures this book would contain. 

Riverside Recipes is edited by Narisa Chakrabongse, descendant of HRH Prince Chakrabongse who, in 1908, had his private estate built on the bank of the Chao Phraya River, a tranquil haven in the heart of Old Bangkok near enough to the Grand Palace for the Prince to attend ceremonies.

The book outlines the gracious times of the early residents here. Parties, leisurely boat trips on the river and of course magnificent dining - fit for royalty. Times have changed, and in recent times his granddaughter Narisa has transformed the grounds of the main house into an award-winning boutique hotel and a delectable riverside restaurant, with one of the most beautiful views in Bangkok.

We were privileged to stay in a waterfront villa and watch the busy river traffic as our breakfast was brought to our table. Later the aromas of our dinner wafted up to us and we knew that when we were seated on the terrace, later that evening, that we would be eating some of the same recipes once enjoyed by members of the royal family themselves.

Now Riverside Recipes is sharing the secrets of the royal recipe files in this beautifully illustrated book. Chakrabongse Villas offers a daily changing menu featuring exquisite Royal Thai Cuisine from the Royal Family’s own recipes.? ?Now you, too, can learn to make the special dishes created by Chef Wat, beautifully photographed by Paisarn Piemmettawat

All  the hotel guest's favourite recipes and signature dishes are included, and Narisa Chakrabongse provides a fascinating introduction to her family and historic home. Riverside Recipes also includes a glossary, necessary for non-Thais, and useful appendices, covering such essentials as how to make a perfect curry paste or how to create a banana-leaf receptacle.

While a typical Thai lunch is often a single dish based on rice or noodles, dinners are more elaborate with five or six dishes such as tom yum kung, a spicy salad, a curry, a milder dish and stir-fried vegetables. There are dishes you may find throughout Thailand too, such as the ultra-sweet khanom krok (coconut custard cupcakes), a refreshing pomelo salad with crab meat, stir-fried crispy catfish, tropical cocktails and tiny bites to begin the meal.
With a location and heritage like this, it is fitting that here is also food fit for a Prince and his friends!


Riverside Recipes - Thai Cooking at Chakrabongse Villas, edited by Narisa Chakrabongse, published by River Books, 2014, paperback, 204 pages, 232 colour photographs, ISBN 978 616 7339 368. 


- reviewed by Sally Hammond



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