Thai Herbs and Spices

Kaffir Lime Leaves

Kaffir lime leaves provide bright citrus scent and taste very refreshing. They are used whole in soups and curries, and can also be sliced very finely for using in certain salad dressings. They are quite tough to eat, therefore need to be very fine and are only eaten in some dishes. When used whole, they are present merely for the flavoring and not to be consumed.


Coriander is also known as Cilantro in some places. Coriander has a very unique smell and taste, which can be quite strong. The leaves are often used as garnish because of its bright color, just like parsley would be used for western cuisines. The seeds of this plant are also used, ground up, in curry pastes.

Holy Basil

Known in Thai as “Bai Kra Pao”, this type of basil is used in stir-fries, providing extremely inviting fragrance for the entire dish. The holy basil plant has green stems, as well as green flowers. The leaves bruise and can go bad easily, so it is advisable to use on the same day of purchase.

Sweet Basil

Sweet basil leaves are green and medium-sized, with purple flowers and stems. It has a stronger smell than the holy basil. This type of basil is used in curries and noodle soups.


Unlike other cuisines, turmeric is used in the form of fresh herb rather than powdered spice. It is mostly used in southern Thai dishes for its vibrant color and aroma. Like many other herbs and spices used in Thai cuisine, turmeric has a lot of medicinal qualities as well.


This pungent root plant is seldom used in Thai cuisine. The skin is usually peeled off before being used. Like many other root plants, more flavors come out when lightly bashed with a heavy, flat utensil.

Bird's Eye Chili

Be very cautious when using Thai bird’s eye chili. Despite the size, the flavor of this type of chili is even spicier than its bigger species. A little used can go a very long way. However, without the bird’s eye chili, Thai cuisine will be left very much incomplete.

Cumin Powder

Cumin seeds need to be roasted and ground up using a pestle and mortar before being used. This spice is more commonly found everywhere in the world as it also exists outside of Thai cuisine. Cumin powder is added to certain curry pastes to enhance the aroma and flavors.


Coriander Seeds

You will only find dry coriander seeds easily available anywhere. They need to be grounded up for using in curry pastes as well.

Black Pepper

Both black and white pepper is used commonly in marinades, stir-fries, and curry pastes. They provide a pungent kick which chilies may not be able give in certain dishes.
Like a few other spices, bay leaves are easily available all over the world. They are commonly used for Massaman curry.

Bay Leaves

Like a few other spices, bay leaves are easily available all over the world. They are commonly used for Massaman curry.


Like the bay leaves, the seeds of cardamom, once ground up, are used for Mussaman Curry. For Thai cuisine, the brown variety is more commonly used than the green one.

Cinnamon Sticks

Cinnamon Sticks are used entirely in some Chinese-Thai dishes, such as Five Spice Tofu and Massaman Curry. However, Cinnamon is only for adding smell of soup, not in desert like it is in the West.

Star Anise

Widely used in Chinese cuisine, star anise is an essential ingredient for the five spice blend. This blend is used for dishes like Five Spice Tofu, and in a lot of soups as well. In the northern region of Thailand, you will find that the Larb (minced meat salad) contains star anise powder as part of its seasonings as well.

Dried Chiles

Dried red chilies are available in a few sizes. They are the key ingredient for red curry paste. These dried chilies are what provide the vibrant color and flavor to the curry.

Pantawan Cooking l

201 Moo. 2, Mae Hia,

Muang, Chiang Mai, Thailand, เชียงใหม่ l

+66 62 926 6628 l

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