Ban Krua's Cuisine: An Old Muslim Community Full of Delicious Food and History

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Ban Khrua’s Cuisine: An Old Muslim Community Full of Delicious Food and History

Not far from the teen hotspot that is Siam Square stands Ban Khrua community, a Cham Muslim neighborhood that has existed for over 235 years. Locally born Supicha “Tim” Wongyuthitham, Chair of the Ban Krua Community Savings Group and of Vice-Chairwoman of Jamiul Khairiyah Mosque, defined the area by saying, “The Cham are fighters,” referencing how her ancestors were bestowed the location at the foot of Charoen Phon Bridge by King Rama I after serving as volunteer warriors safeguarding Siam in the battle of the Nine Armies at the start of the Rattanakosin period.  


In modern times, the residents of Ban Khrua have been fighting for 28 years against the expropriation of their land for expressway construction and daily against the creeping tide of time that has been eroding away their way of life.  Arsom Silp Institute of the Arts, in conjunction with the Community Organizations Development Institute, initiated a project to revitalize the community, leading to an activity welcoming visitors of all faiths interested in learning about the distinct identity of Ban Khrua.


A Storied Community

Bangkok Design Week’s “Sam Rub Ban Khrua: Ban Khrua Cuisine” project was borne from cooperation between the Faculty of Design and Architecture of Sripatum University, Arsom Silp Institute of the Arts, TK Park, GalileOasis, and Ban Khrua community and consisted of 18 programs ranging from exhibitions and cultural performances, culinary workshops and guided tours to Cham Muslim dining experiences.


One of the highlights was “Walking Tour… Through the History of Ban Khrua Silk,” revealing how weavers in Ban Khrua were an important force at the start of the Jim Thompson brand, playing a role in propelling Thai silk to the world. Tim said, “When I was a child, you would hear the sound of weaving everywhere you went and you would see the dye factories with their many-colored textiles while paddling through the canal. We wanted to retell these stories and I was happy that people joined in the walks and then returned to the workshops. One person came on all three days and said the food was delicious, the people were lovely, and we were very friendly when we led them on the tour in our Cham garb and hijabs, singing the entire time. That person even wore batik when they came on later days.


“We welcomed these guests naturally and told them our history in our own way. We took them to try dishes and treats that are like nowhere else, like Khao Kaek rice pudding, Cambodian sour soup, Bobosadek, curry noodles, and date juice.” Tim described other dishes presented during the festival, during which Sam Rub Ban Khrua made an appearance at the annual Jamiul Khairiyah Mosque charity event, Ruan Mae Sup, a Thai-Muslim restaurant housed in an over two-century old wooden structure, Bang Min, where a famed satay recipe has been passed down for generations, and many more locations spread through the gastronomically rich community.   


In terms of community development, the project also included the “Signature of Ban Khrua” youth photo exhibition at TK Park, organized in collaboration with The Momentum. The showcase invited children in the area to submit their photos and included a discussion on the background of each snapshot. Tim said the activity went beyond forging bonds between the children and their community to allowing its adults to peer through the eyes of the local youths, empowering the process of passing on the community to its next generation.


Opening the Door to a New Space for Knowledge Exchange

Apart from the main programs across Ban Khrua, there were four staged in the area around GalileOasis, a neighboring creative space. The four were the Market of Faith, Arabic Typography, Arabic Aerobic (YOGA), and Exhibition Kala(a) I Sathan(a). All extended the project towards a younger audience while still maintaining a connection to the community’s culture, creating an exchange between the two.  


Nuttaporn “Da” Thanapairin, Event Coordinator for GalileOasis, spoke on organizing the project with Ban Khrua community, saying, “We wanted the community to feel like they could use our space. We previously invited them to sell their goods at our events and recommended our tenants utilize the snack services of the community. For Design Week, we had the Market of Faith, using the theme of faith for our monthly market event in honor of Ban Khrua’s majority Muslim makeup as well as the fact that many people who live in the surrounding area are of different religions. The market showcased a variety of different items based on beliefs along with snacks from Ban Khrua shops.


Arabic Aerobic (YOGA) was about getting the community involved. The local mosque already hosts yoga for fitness and aerobics sessions but the people taking part are rather new to yoga and exercise in general. We wanted them to stretch out and exchange know-how on physical fitness without violating any of their religious edicts. We even provided yoga mats they could take home.  


“The Arabic Typography workshop meanwhile was taught by Pong from Ban Khrua. The activity brought him new perspectives from younger people while they learned about a language they weren’t familiar with and honed their focus with Pong’s sticker cutting practice. Attendants with design backgrounds gained a new element to apply to their work and the ability to see Arabic as a form of art.”


Find more details at

Bangkok Design Week 2024

Livable Scape

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27 Jan – 4 Feb 2024