Bal­anced, Fresh, fra­grant and beau­ti­fully — Thai food was made for shar­ing with this cel­e­brate Thai­land’s new year head chef bliss­ful ban­quet from Saba’s

Irish Independent - Weekend Magazine - - FRONT PAGE -

Thurs­day saw the be­gin­ning of the Songkran cel­e­bra­tion — also known as Thai New Year — which marks the start of the new so­lar year and the sum­mer sea­son.

It is rich with sym­bolic tra­di­tions. Morn­ings be­gin with vis­it­ing lo­cal temples and of­fer­ing food and alms to the Bud­dhist monks. Pour­ing water on Bud­dha stat­ues, to rep­re­sent pu­rifi­ca­tion and the wash­ing away of one’s sins and bad luck, is an iconic rit­ual for this hol­i­day. As a way to show re­spect, chil­dren and younger peo­ple also of­ten pour water over the palms of el­ders’ hands.

The hol­i­day is known for its water fes­ti­val, which is mostly cel­e­brated by young peo­ple. Ma­jor city streets in Thai­land are closed to traf­fic for three days of water fights — a wel­come re­prieve from tem­per­a­tures that can reach over 35°C at this time of year.

The base rules are: water must be clean and cool or cold, but no ice cubes. Su­per soak­ers are al­lowed but high-pres­sure hoses are not.

As it’s a fes­ti­val of unity, peo­ple who have moved away usu­ally re­turn home to share it with their loved ones and el­ders. This tra­di­tion in­spired the Thai New Year menu at Saba — which has restau­rants on Dublin’s Claren­don Street and Bag­got Street, as well as Saba To Go out­lets in Rath­mines, Windy Ar­bour and Deans­grange.

Head chef Taweesak ‘Tao’ Trakool­wat­tana has cre­ated a spe­cial Songkran menu where all of the dishes are pre­pared to share in fam­ily style.

To start, there is co­conut soup, fish cakes and som tam pa­paya salad. That’s fol­lowed by stir-fried fil­let of beef, stir-fried cur­ried crab claws, lamb mas­saman curry and blue river prawns with garlic. Dessert is fresh mango, steamed sticky rice and co­conut milk.

You can join the cel­e­bra­tion at home by try­ing your hand at some of Tao’s dishes — see the recipes opposite and over­leaf.

Al­ter­na­tively, the shar­ing menu, for par­ties of four priced at €38.95 per per­son, is avail­able un­til Mon­day at all Saba out­lets. For more in­for­ma­tion, see

Sawadee pee mai — happy new year! IR­ISH IN­DE­PEN­DENT Serves 4 as a starter


80g le­mon­grass, chopped 80g galan­gal, sliced 50g shal­lots, chopped 4 kaf­fir lime leaves, torn 4 bird’s eye chill­ies, crushed

tsp salt 1 tsp sugar 3 dssp fish sauce ( nam pla) 4 dssp lime juice 300g chicken fil­lets, thinly sliced 150g oys­ter mush­rooms, torn 10g fresh co­rian­der leaves, to gar­nish

10ml chilli oil, to gar­nish 1.

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