Loy Krathong Festival, called "Festival of Lights" is a popular festival in Thailand and with Thais around the world. Beginning on the first evening of the November full moon. The festival has Buddhist origins and offers thanks to the Goddess of Water at the end of the rainy season.
It is a beautiful sight to see hundreds of thousands of ornately-decorated krathong or traditional banana leaf floats set adrift in rivers and waterways in a spell-binding ritual called Loi Krathong. This is one of the Kingdom's oldest and best-preserved traditions.
The Loi Krathong tradition we know of today has evolved from the royal rituals of the early Rattanakosin period in which several types of lanterns were set afloat in the Chao Phraya River and its waterways. The practice was subsequently adopted and adapted by common folk.
The sight of thousands of tiny candlelit floats drifting downstream is nowhere more spectacular than in Sukhothai, the first Thai capital, where this annual tradition originated. There is a dazzling firework display, cultural performances, folk dances and a dramatic light and sound presentation in this ancient capitol.
Any time there is a festival it gives a reason to have a party and invite friends for food and drinks. My recipe for Nam Phrik Pao (Roasted Chile Paste) will make your meal a huge success. You can use it in a quick and very tasty stir-fry or as a wonderful veggie dip for raw or blanched assorted veggies.
In a pinch you can use Pantainorasingh Brand Chilli (sic) Paste with Soya Bean Oil. Unfortunately only the mild or Medium seems to be exported. However once you make your own you will never settle for a store bought version of this heavenly "Chile Jam". I love it on rice crackers as a snack, or mix a spoonful in a bowl of steamed jasmine rice.
Roasted Chile Paste (Nam Phrik Pao)
Nam Phrik Pao is key to many Thai dishes and although prepared is available once you make your own you will never want to use the already made commercially available Nam Phrik Pao again.
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Mary-Anne Durkee, Thai Food Editor