I love cooking and I love travelling. So if I can combine the two together, I’m one happy camper. In Chiang Mai, one of the top things to do is a cooking class. In this one-day class they teach you the ins and outs of traditional Thai cooking. There are many different schools available, and from what I have heard, they are all pretty good.
I decided to go with the Baanthai Cookery School, which at that time had the best rating (and it still is one of the best cooking classes in Chiang Mai). It was easy to book through my hostel, and it was an afternoon filling program.
So here’s my photo diary of the BaanThai Cookery School cooking class in Chiang Mai.
The day starts at the BaanThai Cookery School, where you receive a little cookbook and a list of dishes to choose from. There are 5 categories, and you can choose one dish (out of 3) in each category. When I was there, this was the menu (I underlined the dishes I chose):
- Stir Fried dishes: Fried Noodle Thai Style ~ Fried Cashew Nut with Chicken ~ Stir fried Prawns with Curry Powder
- Appetizers: Papaya Salad ~ Spring Roll ~ Fried Fish Cake
- Soup: Hot & Sour Prawn Soup ~ Chicken in Coconut Milk ~ Seafood in Coconut Milk
- Curry: Chiang Mai Noodle with Chicken ~ Green Curry with Chicken ~ Panaeng Curry with Pork
- Dessert: Deep Fried Banana ~ Mango with Sticky Rice ~ Water Chestnut in Coconut Milk
When you have picked your dishes, it’s time for the market to get those fresh veggies and ingredients. Another good thing about Thai food: they cook everything with fresher than fresh products.
You can see the weather wasn’t too great that day. But that actually made it a great day for cooking, so no problem for us!
Before you start cooking, a fruit platter is served (one of these for two people). It consists of dragon fruit, rambutan, mangosteen and some sort of crispy cracker (probably prawn crackers, not sure). While we were enjoying our fruits, the staff prepped the first dish for us.
They already portioned the ingredients, which is nice and easy! We started off with the stir fried dish. For me, it’s Chicken Cashew rice.
This is where we prep our chicken cashew stir fry. There are several cooking classes going on at the same time, and everyone who chooses the same dish, will cook together. So you will meet other people from other groups as well.
This is the result of my first Thai cooking experience: De-li-cious! The Chicken & Cashew stirfry recipe is on the blog by the way.
Next up: Spring Rolls
They are filled with glass noodles, bean sprout, chives a little bit of minced pork and of course the regular flavours of Thailand: garlic, fish sauce and oyster sauce. Delish!
Next: Roasted chilli paste, which is an ingredient we use in two dishes.
We actually made the roasted chilli paste for the whole group, so we took turns chopping those chillies. It’s not just chilli pepper in there: there’s also garlic, challots, galangal, lemon grass, shrimp paste, kaffir lime peel and coriander stam in the paste.
It’s not that hard to make: just chop chop chop, until you think: “hey, this looks fine”. And then the teacher tells you to chop some more. Yup, lots of chopping.
(before you even ask: yes, we were all wearing the apron and the head scarf, the guys included! :P)
The first spicy dish: Hot & Sour Prawn soup. It is packed with flavour: the roasted chilli paste gives it the hotness, while the lime juice gives it the sourness.
Of course topped with coriander / cilantro. I love it, but many people think it tastes like soap. It’s a genetic thing apparently: you either love it or hate it, it’s in your DNA.
The second dish where the chilli paste is used: Chiang Mai Noodle with Chicken. The noodles on top are deep fried (Thai people sure love deep frying), and there’s chicken in there.
It’s actually very easy to make all of these dishes vegetarian: just substitute the meat for tofu and sub the fish sauce for soy sauce, and you are good to go.
After the curry, it’s time for dessert. I LOVE desserts and the next dish is the perfect, indulgent dessert which definitely satisfies my sweet tooth!
Sweet sticky rice with mango. Yum! We didn’t actually cook this desert ourselves. The rice needs to soak in water overnight and when cooking it, it needs to simmer for at least 30 minutes. So the Baanthai Cookery School already made a nice batch of sticky rice for all of us to use. The mango is actually just mango cut in hedgehog style. Nothing special. But it tastes like heaven.
So yeah: this was my Chiang Mai cooking class and I loved every second of it. I did another cooking class in Cambodia, but this wasn’t set up as nicely as this one. I can definitely recommend Baanthai Cookery School.
How to book? Just check the front desk of the hostel / hotel where you are staying. They will most likely have a brochure and can call the cookery school to book you in.