As Seen In 11-2014

THE TORONTO STAR, Food & Wine: “I judge cookbooks two ways. First by how many recipes I want to make when I flip through them, then by how well the recipes work. Simple Thai Food scores on both fronts, making it my favourite cookbook of 2015.”


TOP 10 COOKBOOKS OF 2014, The Boston Globe:
Amplify your storebought curry pastes with a few smartly chosen aromatics for surprisingly authentic results. Written by the popular blogger, this is the best home Thai book currently available.

Often I find that “simple Thai” cookbooks are either not so simple or not so Thai. But blogger Leela Punyaratabandhu ( has a way of marrying convenience with high flavor. Store-bought curry pastes mingle with fresh aromatics like Kaffir lime and lemongrass, and substitutions are welcome. Once in a while, there will be a real stumper — fingerroot or young green peppercorns — in the mix. But mostly, these dishes are fragrant winners that can be sourced and cooked even on a school night.

THE 20 BEST COOKBOOKS OF 2014, The Globe and Mail:
Punyaratabandhu’s recipes are simple, but she hasn’t dumbed them down for North Americans. She’s a masterful hand-holder: If you love Thai food but the ingredients and preparation have you cowed, this is the book to get. There’s a sensational red-curry duck with pineapple, excellent papaya salad, real-deal hot-and-sour chicken soup, and sensible advice about what to make yourself and what to cheat and purchase at the Asian grocer’s.

A slip of a book, Leela Punyaratabandhu’s Simple Thai Food was a welcome addition to my growing collection of Southeast Asian cookbooks. It takes a measured approach to traditional Thai cuisine; it is neither dogmatic nor full of shortcuts. Some of its recipes are familiar—think tom kha gai, pad thai, and green papaya salad. Still others, like her curious leaf-wrapped salad bites filled with nuts, dried shrimp, and raw ginger, are a delightful revelation. Punyaratabandhu writes most of these recipes as she would prepare them for Thai guests, using scratch-made curry pastes and generally hard-to-find ingredients. Yet in her extensive and detailed headnotes, she includes helpful hints for preparation, shopping tips, and, most importantly, good ideas for substitutes. In this way, readers are given a wealth of options, none more (or less) delicious than the last.”


“… The work developed into this, her first cookbook, and it shows a confidence and care absent in many books by more seasoned authors. […] “Simple Thai Food” is what it says: unusually simple, and still really Thai. It’s written with grace, dedication, and humor, and there’s nothing like it on the market. […] In other words, if you want a single Thai book, this is it.”
—T. Susan Chang, The Boston Globe

“Simple Thai Food is just what folks need: a simple, easy-to-follow cookbook on a delicious cuisine (and one of my favorites!) that most people aren’t used to making at home. With clear, friendly instructions and valuable tips and techniques, Leela unlocks the flavors and seasonings of real Thai cooking—spicy salads, coconut-rich soups, blazing bowls of curry, and the fiery, flavorful condiments that go alongside. Thanks to Leela, I’m excited to create these authentic Thai dishes in my own kitchen!”
—David Lebovitz, author of My Paris Kitchen

“Punyaratabandhu […] does simplify the complexity of Thai cuisine. The author walks the home cook through all the stages of meal preparation, from making green curry paste from scratch to chutneys and desserts […] To write this book, she travelled back to Bangkok where she visited friends and family and interviewed street vendors and other cooks so she could best capture the flavours of her home country in a way that a North American could get.”
-Sarah Elton, The Globe and Mail

“Thai has long been underrepresented in my pantry, my refrigerator and on my cookbook shelves because I never felt I had enough support to cook much beyond a beef curry made with canned coconut milk and a commercial red curry paste. Punyaratabandhu’s practical and calming tone — plus her delicious-sounding recipes — make me want to do much more Thai cooking.”
– Bill Daley, The Chicago Tribune

“… Well, it’s been a long time coming, but now her clever, occasionally impish prose and wealth of knowledge have been collected in a tree-based volume titled Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen by Ten Speed Press …”
– Mike Sula, The Chicago Reader

“Leela has crafted an authoritative, opinionated, and thoroughly down-to-earth collection of traditional Thai recipes, written especially for cooks who weren’t lucky enough to be born in Thailand. All the basics are here, beautifully organized, from curry paste to coconut milk and beyond.”
—David Tanis, author of One Good Dish

“Simple Thai Food is a beautiful snapshot of Leela’s effort to stay connected to her Bangkok roots through food, and a wonderfully practical guide for those of us who want to create authentic Thai flavors at home.”
—James Oseland, editor-in-chief of Saveur and author of Cradle of Flavor

“Leela re-creates her beloved taste memories, and then invites us in—offering tools, inspiration, and fresh context in equal measure. You will want these recipes for so many reasons—the craft, joy, deliciousness, backstory—and you will want (and come close to experiencing) Leela herself at your table, imparting her fine intelligence and warmth.”
—Mollie Katzen, author of The Moosewood Cookbook and The Heart of the Plate

“In this compendium of favorite Thai dishes, Leela has managed to make the recipes accessible and straightforward for a home cook, and to keep them very true to what a modern Thai cook (in Thailand as well as in the West) would recognize as ‘authentic.’ She does offer substitutions when ingredients are more difficult to find, but they never skew far from what a Thai mom would use in her own kitchen. Leela even sneaks in a few dishes that you might not find in your local Thai restaurant, but will probably become your favorites!”
—Andy Ricker, chef/owner of the Pok Pok restaurants and author of Pok Pok

“… There is enough here for both the novice to Thai flavors and the experienced eater. All in all, this is a solid, simple introduction to Thai food …”
—Publishers Weekly

“I have generally found “Quick,” “Easy,” and “Simple” to be disingenuous labels when it comes to Thai cookbooks […] But Punyaratabandhu seems to pull it off, coming up with recipes that are weeknight-doable yet electric with ingredients you can just about find if you try hard (dried shrimp, kaffir lime leaf, palm sugar). Shortcuts or not, they’re desperately delicious.”
—T. Susan Chang, National Public Radio