Dhaba in Bangkok

Contributed by Debasish Roy

The tourist district in Bangkok is well removed from the residential district. In fact, the residential area is just like any other deserted street in New Delhi or Calcutta with tired looking friendly middle class people going about their business and trying to help you if you ask for directions. Talking to anybody about anything is a pain as nobody understands a word of English. You come to the residential area when you cross the Chao Praya river using a two baht river taxi ride.

I entered a dhaba where seeing an Indian tourist walk in they immediately switched on the latest Hindi movie flick’s songs. That was not so pleasant; so I asked “do you have Jagjit Singh?” “No,” the snub nosed lady behind the counter replied, “Only chicken tikka”. She thought Jagjit Singh was an Indian dish! The chicken korma was cooked with lemon grass. It was a nice combination and had turned out into a great dish. So good in fact, that I decided to try it out in my own kitchen when I get back to India. The stuff sold as naans were really tandoori rotis. The raita was white and plasticky… ugh.

The experience was novel as it was in a country known for its own food but here was a dhaba trying desperately to cook and serve Indian food to Indian tourists. The structure was a large army tent converted to suit the conditions needed for a dhaba and was nestled behind the back wall of the tallest luxury hotel in Bangkok. The dhaba was the home and the workplace of the family serving the food.

– Debasish