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Galloping Horses!

TIM Thai Ma Haw

By Tim Hazell

Thailand’s folklore and rustic science are steeped in religion and handed down through the millennia as oral histories. The village shaman, known as a mo phi, is a prominent community member, performing marriages and healing rituals and acting as an intermediary between spiritual and material worlds.

To summon the dead, four sticks are planted in the ground at an equal distance from each other, near the location of a burial or cremation. Thread is tied around the sticks, forming a protective square. A mat is spread in the middle where the mo phi sits facing a terra-cotta jar outside the square, which is painted with a yantra (mystic diagram) and contains the ashes or bones of the deceased. Invocations are made as a rice offering is placed beside the jar, along with a stick or switch to keep undesirable, malevolent spirits at bay.

Yantra is a Sanskrit word for a diagram or amulet that is charged with spiritual power. Charms are worn for protection and good fortune in Thailand, either tied around the body or worn as a necklace. Yantra tattooing is also practiced. Larger painted motifs decorate a variety of public spaces.

Thai legends often deal with gods or animals. One recounts the tale of a white winged horse known as Uchchaihshravas which emerges from the turbulent ocean. He is picked up and lifted to heaven by the Hindu god Indra, who dematerializes the horse’s wings and spirits him back to earth as a gift to humankind.

This distinctive Thai appetizer tops fresh pineapple and cucumber slices with a sweet-savory mixture of pork, chicken, and shrimp. The name “ma haw” translates as “horses of the Haw people,” a tribe that migrated to Thailand from China, but it is most commonly known as “Galloping Horses.” Prepare these canapes shortly before serving for optimum freshness!


Mah Haw



1 ripe pineapple

1 cucumber with peel, scrubbed

4 cloves garlic, minced

1-inch peeled ginger, shredded

1/4 red onion, finely chopped

1 red serrano chile, seeded and minced

2 tbsp. chopped coriander

1/2 lb. ground pork

1/2 lb. ground chicken

1/2 lb. cleaned shrimp, finely chopped

1 spring onion, finely chopped

2 tsp. fish sauce

2 tsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. black pepper (to taste)

Dash sesame oil

1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, coarsely ground



1/4 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

Coriander leaves



Remove pineapple skin. Cut the flesh into 1/2 inch thick slices. Remove the center core. Cut slices into squares or triangles. Slice the cucumber on the diagonal. Arrange on a platter. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat. Add red onion, chile, garlic, ginger and coriander. Cook, stirring, until translucent. Add green onion, ground chicken, pork, and shrimp. Stir-fry until the color changes. Add fish sauce, sugar, pepper, and sesame oil. Fold in ground peanuts. Fry until fragrant. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the topping onto each piece of pineapple and cucumber. Garnish with red pepper strips and coriander leaves.


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