The traditional Thai cuisine was very different than the current one in a holistic perspective.

At some point in history the Thai nation started trading globally, directly or indirectly with Indians, Iranians, Arabs and also Portuguese who brought several plant species to Thailand which today some of their plant parts use as fundamental ingredients in Modern Thai Cuisine; for example, from the Americas:

  • Chilles
  • Pappaya
  • Corn
  • Tomato
  • Green eggplants
  • Tapioca
  • Taro
  • Potato

And from other places:

  • Japanese teas
  • Roses (Gulab in Thai, as in Indian and Persian)
  • Indian spices and legumes (as well as legume flours)
  • Wheat flour (probably from China or Arabia) uses to make Thai breads
  • Date palms used in cookies (probably from west China or Muslim states)

My problem

I didn't find a lot of clear information about the main ingredients of non globally influenced cuisine (before the Thais entered global trade).

I assume that this cuisine was overall cuisine was more similar to modern Cambodian and Vietnamese cuisine but it might be hard to prove it.

My question

What were the main ingredients of the Thai cuisine before global trade (before Thailand traded with any country outside south east Asia)? I thought Pad Thai was one but it feels to me controversial.

  • 2
    It's hard to answer your question, because 'global' trade could mean a lot of things. Trade with India and southeast Asia has been going on for a very long time, and India traded with Africa for a long time as well.
    – GdD
    Feb 15, 2020 at 11:06
  • @SteveChambers I think it's about cooking ancient Thai food --- if it's okay to ask for the main dish or course of ancient Thais, I will ask for that ; after all my investment in writing this question I will not move another step without mods intervention ; I already published and deleted a similar question here and in History SE ; there must be a stop to this migration charade.
    – user79730
    Feb 15, 2020 at 16:58
  • @Tetsujin you are welcome to isolate "confusion" ; I think there is no "confusion" ; is the world "ancient" interrupting you? I doesn't necessarily do with my problem.
    – user79730
    Feb 15, 2020 at 18:13
  • 2
    @JohnDoea I know you think the question is clear, but it really is ambiguous. If you could pin down an actual time, that'd help; as others have noted, a lot of the trade you mention goes way, way back, and some of it is more recent. If you don't know those details, and need an idea of the history of trade in Thailand before you can really get more specific, that's definitely a history question, not a cooking question. And even if you do narrow it down, historians will be in a far better position to answer than chefs.
    – Cascabel
    Feb 15, 2020 at 23:26
  • 1
    For those reasons, I've put the question on hold as needing detail/clarity. If you do clarify, depending on what form it takes, it may or may not be on topic here, and almost certainly, no matter the final form, it will be more easily answered on history. So I'd really suggest focusing on making the question work for them - it'll be easier to get the answers you seek there - but if you want to try to make it work here, you're certainly welcome.
    – Cascabel
    Feb 15, 2020 at 23:30

1 Answer 1


Thailand, if you define it as the country where Thai is the dominant language, is a relatively new nation. Sukhothai was established in 1238 and from the beginning there was international trade. As soon as ingredients from the new world started to spread to the old world they would have arrived in "Siam/Thailand" and all other parts of Southeast Asia. It doesn't take much to spread new plant ingredients, just a few seeds and it would be quickly cultivated in mass and dispersed everywhere. It doesn't even require ongoing trade.

Of course the land was always there before the Thai arrived so if by "Thai nation" you are also talking about the Khmer, Mon, Malays and other groups that lived in and controlled the territory of modern-day Thailand, then your question does not pertain stricly to Thailand or "Thai cuisine."

Even if you look only at the Thai-speaking peoples, what do you consider "traditional Thai cuisine?" Have you considered that there is not one Thai group but multiple? Chiang Mai and northern Thailand was its own kingdom and has its own cuisine. Northeast Thailand was part of the Lao kingdoms. There are also some Shan and other tribal upland Thai groups. All are "Thai" and all have their own cusine.