When in Rome…
According to Trip Advisor, taking a Thai cooking class is the 2nd most popular thing to do in Chiang Mai. Eating Thai food was one of the reasons I was so excited for our (first) stint in Thailand; therefore learning to cook it, via a Thai cooking class, was a no brainer. There are tons of places offering a Thai cooking class. From a couple of hours in the evening, to a full day including local market tours.
Following a stroll around the city and some on-line research, we decided to take a Thai cooking class at Morning Glory Restaurant. Diana Chaichong and her family run a vegan restaurant, that also offers home style Thai cooking classes. This was perfect for us, especially for C. The dishes were focused on fresh vegetable ingredients, not simply removing meat from dishes designed to include meat.
The thai cooking Class
First of all, there was just 4 of us in the class – perfect! A lady from Germany who spoke fluent Thai, a girl from Austria and the two us. We began with a local market tour just across the street. We strolled around taking in all of the sights and smells; C was busy snapping away, particularly at some of the more exotic offerings like banana flower, and we got to sample some of the items too. I enjoyed this part more than C, who wasn’t too fond of the desserts made from coconut. After about 20 minutes and with a basket full of purchases, we all headed back to the restaurant to begin cooking!
One of the unique selling points of this class is the sheer number of dishes that you get to cook. Now, I feel I should point out something here. Some of the ‘different’ dishes are simply the same dish with an additional ingredient. For example, adding more coconut milk can turn a Tom Yam soup into a Tom Kha soup instantly.
Despite this slight exaggeration, we did make a large variety of food, and we were involved at every stage. Slicing up the fresh veg with strange shaped knives; flexing our muscles whilst using the pestle and mortar to create chili paste; rolling up fresh spring rolls, cooking soups and sauces, and of course perfecting the Thai classic, Pad Thai. We worked individually, in pairs and as a four depending on the number of varieties and tasks.
We spent approximately 5 minutes at the end of each dish, making notes in our recipe books, making sure we would remember all of the important little points. (How long chili paste keeps for, or how long to steam pumpkin etc).
Firstly it tasted amazing. Once we had cooked each dish we would take it out to the table, take some photos of our wonderful creations and then dig in. It was interesting to compare the different varieties, as each wok would have an additional ingredient added. Secondly, we got to take all of the leftovers home. Even better for us, the other two participants didn’t want to take any, so we had ourselves a leftover feast that evening for dinner!
A more accurate list of the clearly different dishes we cooked is as follows:-
– Chili Paste (a base for lots of other dishes)
– Pumpkin Hummus
– Peanut Sauce (my favourite)
– Pumpkin Soup
– Spring Rolls
– Pad Thai / Pad See Ewe
– Tom Yam/ Tom Kha Soup
– Massaman / Thai Green Curry
– Som Tam (Green papaya) Salad
– Mango with Sticky Rice
It wasn’t a cheap activity and possibly not the cheapest on offer in Chiang Mai either. However, for what was involved and the fact that is was vegetarian friendly (it was actually vegan friendly too!) we believe it was definitely worth the money.
The cost is 1,200 THB per person, (approximately £26 or $35). The class begins at 9am in the morning and finishes around 1.30pm in the afternoon. Diana does offer ‘express’ evening classes which last around 2 hours and do not include the market tour. You choose 5 dishes to cook and it costs 800 THB per person.
The small, unassuming little restaurant sits on Phrapokklao Road down by the Chiang Mai Gate, at the south of the Old City. It is easy to find either by walking or by catching a Songthaew or Tuk-tuk.
As well as being easy to get to, it is also primely located opposite Chiang Mai Gate market. An under-cover market selling fresh ingredients for all your favourite dishes including fresh tofu, herbs such as kaffir lime leaf and holy basil and vegetables such as pumpkins and potatoes.
Conclusion – 9/10
Overall we had a great morning. We learnt some invaluable skills which we have already put into practice. (Massaman curry, Thai red curry, Pumpkin hummus, Pad Thai and peanut sauce have been cooked in our Phuket apartment). We got to taste and takeaway some outrageously delicious food and most noteworthy, we had lots of fun.
The only slight improvement I would suggest, would possibly be to either narrow down the number of dishes, or increase the length of the class. Because at times, it seemed like things were rushed and therefore on a few occasions, we used pre-pared ingredients.
Have you ever taken a Thai (or other cuisine) cooking class? What is your favourite Thai dish? Who do you think was better at cooking – me or C? Get in touch in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.