What’s Brewing, What’s Cooking

Miang Kham, the traditional Thai betel leaf appetiser….

By Jeff Yong

I got introduced to Miang Kham or Miang Kiang, the traditional Thai “betel” leaf snack or appetiser, when I was at an upscale restaurant in Bangkok many years back. I thought it was a wonderful idea to keep
the mouths of diners fully occupied when they awaited their main course!

And years later, it was at another upscale joint in Kuala Lumpur. It led me to believe that the dish could only be dished out at exquisite places. How wrong I was as I found out recently that it’s also available at
Basil, that no-nonsense Thai restaurant at Bangsar Village I. Basil has always come to my rescue whenever I wanted a quick meal. And it’s location is just superb – just right next to the open air car

Miang Kham to the uninitiated comprises ginger, chillies, toasted coconut, roasted peanuts, shallots, dried shrimp and cut lime that are accompanied with a dash of sticky, sweet and savoury sauce and
wrapped in daun kadok (Piper sarmentosum) of the pepper plant family. Daun kadok, which thrives in shady places, is often confused with betel leaves. It’s an important ingredient or accompaniment in
Malay and Nyonya cooking.

The dish can “hit” you right away, depending on what you have bitten into – the sourish lime or tangy ginger. One person described it as a flavourful explosion in a single bite! But, it’s always a good
conversation piece that can add a buffer to the cooks in the kitchen! The dish is believed to have originated in northern Thailand from the Lanna Kingdom in northern Thailand ( 13 th -18th century). Legend has it that a royal cook preparing a special dish for the queen had concocted up Miang Kham with ingredients that were available to him then.

The dish later became available to the common people. I hear that it has even become a popular street food in Thailand, too. (Looks like I have to pack my bags and be in Krungthep or Bangkok soon).

Back to Basil: No problems in requesting your favourite Thai food here like pineapple fried rice, green curry or tom yam. And even steamed siakap (barramundi) fish, roasted chicken in pandan leaves
or mango in glutinous rice dessert!

Service here is commendable most times. And prices are not too steep, considering the locale. Enjoy!
G10, Ground Floor, Bangsar Village,
No.1, Jalan Telawi 1, Bangsar Baru,
59100 Kuala Lumpur.
Business Hours
Monday to Sunday 12:00 noon till 10:00 pm
Tel Contact:
03 22878708, 03 22878710