Cambodian food originated mainly in the Khmer period and is over 1000 years old. It is thought to have tasted much like Thai cuisine but without chilli. The Portuguese then introduced chilli pepper and cuisine here evolved with it. Here are a few unique ingredients used when preparing Cambodian dishes.


This is a root that looks very similar to ginger and in fact from the same species of plant as well. However, this lighter looking version of tastes much milder. It is made into a paste and then used for cooking.

Kaffir lime

This is a type of lime that is indigenous to Indonesia and Malaysia. The lime rind and leaves are ground and added to the curries. This will give a tangy citrusy flavour and gives the curries a greener look.

Kaffir lime


If you’ve dined at a luxury hotel in Siem Reap before, you are sure to have got the smooth lemony taste of lemongrass in the local dishes.

Palm sugar

This sugar is taken from the palmyra palms or sugar palms. This sugar comes in blocks that are tinged golden and tends to melt faster. It also has an earthier taste.

Star anise

Dine at restaurants at hotels like Anantara Angkor Resort and you’ll come to notice the unique taste of star anise. This spice is used to caramelise meats as well as to aid digestion.