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Apr 11, 2007 11:26 AM

Songkran (4/13-4/15) Thai New Year (2550) ... What's it all about?

Are there any special foods for this celebration other than Kao Chae (jasmine petal-perfumed rice with garnishes) ?

AKA ... Khao Chae ... khao Songkran (Songkran rice) ...

" ... its origins ... go back centuries to when the Mon people occupied the Central Plains. As part of their celebrations to mark the first day in their lunar calendar, the Mon offered gifts of what they called khao Songkran (Songkran rice) to the female guardian spirit of the New Year. The name was later modified to khao chae because a special variety of rice is soaked (chae) in water.

This site mentions some of the condiments servered with khao chae

"The characteristic side dishes invariably include peanut-sized luuk kapi (shrimp paste balls), phrik yuak (fried pork-stuffed large hot peppers), hawm thawt (fried shallots), nuea phat waan (beef), and hua chai poe (Chinese radish)"

Interesting notes about the dish in that link. This was originally a royal dish and the ice was only something the wealthiest could afford to import from Singapore. It was served at the crack of dawn as an offering to the Songkran Goddess.

There is a detailed description about the excrutiating difficulty of making the rice ... much too long to quote, but fascinating ... it also talks about the sides ...

"This portion must be set as an offering to the goddess first. In each tray of offering, there must be rice and several dishes such as mixed. Salad, mango salad, fried dried fish, ,elon, salted beef, and fired preserved turnips. Each dish is put in small banana-leaf cups. "

This site has some stunning food pictures of the festival in Thailand, but doesn't mention if they are foods unique to the festival ... I'd pass on the fried bamboo worms even though the writer calls them "absolutely fabulous once you get pass your “fear factor”.

This site which mainly talks about the regional differences in the celebrations in Thailand mentions ...

"Lanna residents bring home-made steamed stuffed desserts of ‘Khanom Jok’ and ‘Khanom Tian’ to share at the temple"

There's also a mention here about the regionality of the food ..

"The foods that are served ... depend on the part of Thailand you visit. Pad Thai Noodles; Khao Chae, a delicious rice dish; Gaeng Kiew Wahn Gai, chicken with green curry; krayasad, a mixture made from puffed rice, oats, peanuts and Thai noodles that is sweetened with palm sugar and coconut syrup; Kanom Tom, sticky rice and mung bean balls piled high into a pyramid shaped dessert and Kanom Krok, coconut rice pancakes are some of the more universal Thai foods enjoyed"

If you celebrate this holiday, what foods do you tradionally eat?

I know Songkran involves lots of water-throwing to symbolize cleansing.

If you happen to be in Bangkok there are a number of Songkran buffets serving Songkran food, so there must be other dishes. Bangkok seems to be a real buffet town.

Where is it celebrated in the US?

I know there have been mentions about it on Chowhound in LA, Escondido, and Fremont, CA.

Where else and how was the food?

'Sawasdee Pee-Mai!' or 'Happy New Year!'

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  1. I went to a commercial festival in Berkeley and the San Bruno temple's last year. Here's the post on Berkeley with a link to a slideshow of both.

    1. i lived in thailand for 18 years and i celebrated sonkran every year. it was so much fun!! i just walked around the streets drinking beer, eating sticky rice and chicken, and throwing water on people!
      id say the main foods for sonkran is mostly northern thai stuff like:

      cow neaw gai yang (sticky rice and chicken)
      kaow soy (thick yellow noodle in a curry sauce)
      prik noom (a green hot sauce served with nothern thai food)
      prik ong (another type of sauce)
      cat moo (pork grinds)
      moo yang (grilled pork)
      som tham (papaya salad with fish sauce, tomatoes, green beans, shrimp and crab) i like it without the crab

      usually all that food is served at the table and eaten all together
      damn i miss those times!!!!


        Rworange - I wrote this post under my real name back during the bare-bones good old days of chowhound (nostolgic...sniff, sniff).

        I've been waiting all year since then to eat Thai food...which I have resolved myself to eat only once a year - at this fest - because absolutely NOTHING I have had elsewhere can even hold a candle to it.

        I even still have the year old fotos on my cell phone - pathetic I know but I can still hear the ladies with the moartar and pestle pounding away.

        Its going to be at the end of this month at kit carson park...when are you making a pilgrimage back? :)

        2 Replies
        1. re: kare_raisu

          Kare raisu -- Is it today, tomorrow, or really at the end of the month? Which part of the park is it in?

          1. re: maestra

            i believe the last weekend of the month.