A Fabulous Day Out Learning to Cook Amazing Thai Food
When I was researching things to do I found that everyone recommends doing a cooking class in Chiang Mai as part of your trip. So here’s my experience. We chose Thai Akha for our cooking class in Chiang Mai. In fact, there are loads of cookery schools to choose from in Chiang Mai so you’ll have plenty of choices. We chose Thai Akha because I liked their website which had loads of information and they had great reviews online. They also offered a vegetarian and vegan options which was perfect for us.
Firstly, some practical information. Thai Akha runs two cookery classes daily, a morning and evening tour. Additionally, they do a morning market food shop tour with no cooking involved. We opted for the morning cookery class which starts around 8.30am with a pickup from your hotel in Chiang Mai.
We were picked up promptly at our hotel in one of the famous red songthaows and driven to the local market. This gave us a few minutes to get to know our fellow cookery class participants as we made the short journey. There were six of us altogether and we were an international bunch with travellers from Italy, Canada and the UK. Of course, this is another benefit of doing a cooking class in Chiang Mai. You get to meet other travellers and swap stories as well as learning how to cook fabulous food.
We were all given these distinctive orange aprons to wear as we followed our guide around the market. It’s a quite different experience shopping in traditional local markets where local people buy their food to visiting the tourist markets. Our guide purchased a range of vegetables, herbs and spices as we visited each market stall. We also tasted some of the more exotic fruits and vegetables and examined many of the unusual herbs and spices.
The market tour takes around an hour and is actually great fun. Again, it’s a good opportunity to get to know your fellow cookery school companions and enjoy seeing a different side of Chiang Mai. Although they don’t buy all the ingredients that you use during the cooking class during your visit to the market, this is where they buy their ingredients.
The Chiang Mai Cookery School
Afterwards, we all boarded the songthaew again for our trip to the Chiang Mai cookery school. As can be seen in the photo above, everything was ready for our arrival. We each had a cooking station which was equipped with everything we needed to begin our class. Firstly, we enjoyed a welcome drink and were introduced to our instructor.
It’s a really lovely environment for the cooking class. Spotlessly clean and very spacious. Water, tea and coffee are freely available for you to help yourself throughout the class. They also take hygiene really seriously which I like and there are sinks with soap and hand sanitiser for keeping your hands clean.
Why do a cookery class in Chiang Mai?
In fact, we’ve never done a cookery class before anywhere. We only started doing food tours a few years ago as I’m not a huge fan of organised tours. However, they certainly have their place and they do add to our trips and we’ve really enjoyed the ones we’ve experienced. So the cooking class was something entirely new for us but I highly recommend giving it a go. It’s a great day out, really sociable and fun and we learnt some great recipes.
So if you’re thinking that a cookery class is not for you then please don’t dismiss it. I don’t think Paul would have even considered it before but he enjoyed it and thought it was a different way to experience Thailand.
Now, I must admit that the whole day was a bit of a blur and I think we learnt around 20 dishes in total. So I’m going to share some of the ones I have photos of and can remember. Trust me though, absolutely everything was delicious and I can hardly believe I managed to cook so many wonderful dishes.
Firstly, we made this amazing papaya salad. You will see papaya salad on the menu all over Thailand and it is a very tasty little dish. For me, the attraction is the peanuts scattered on the top. It adds a lovely crunchy texture to the salad. This one has become a firm favourite.
Who doesn’t love vegetable spring rolls? We made these as a group as they require a huge wok filled with oil for frying. Each of us wrapped our own spring roll and then dipped it into the hot oil to fry. There’s a technique for getting a perfect consistency though so we had help! It’s all about getting the triangle piece facing the bottom.
Akha Soup & Stir Fry
Next, we chose from three different soups to make. We both made this delicious coconut milk soup with tofu. The original recipe was with chicken but they offered tofu as a good veggie/vegan alternative. They also do a hot and sour soup with prawns and a clear soup with egg. I love coconut milk so this was always going to be my choice.
We also had a choice of stir fry dishes to cook. I discovered Pad Thai in Ayutthaya and loved it so it was an easy choice for me. Paul chose to make a sweet and sour stir fry. Both of them were fabulous.
Of course, there has to be a curry on the menu if you’re learning to cook Thai food. Paul is a huge fan of Thai Green Curry so he chose to make that and I tried the Massaman which I’ve never heard of before.
Firstly, you need to make your curry paste. No packet sauces here! Grinding herbs and spices is actually really fun. I’ve got an underused pestle and mortar at home and I’m going to use it a lot more now. Our instructor also gave us lots of information on how to make the different pastes and what types of curry you use them for.
We also cooked the wonderful sticky mango rice which I love. Who would have thought such a simple dessert could be so tasty. This was another one we cooked a group so we watched as our instructor talked us through the process. I ordered this in a lot of restaurants across Thailand but this was definitely the best.
I had to share this photo of the unusual boiled eggs we saw. The top ones are huge but it’s the red gel-like ones that are really interesting. I don’t eat eggs but others in the group sampled them. I wish I could remember more of the details about why they’re so red but I still wanted to share as they’re so unusual.
Sampling the Results
One of the best bits of doing a Chiang Mai cookery class is sampling all the fabulous dishes you cook. After completing each course we sat down and enjoyed eating them. So delicious and great knowing you cooked it yourself. They cooked the rice for us so we didn’t have to do the boring stuff!
Since we ate each course as it was cooked, it was lovely and fresh. There’s also loads of food so you don’t go hungry.
Thai Akha Cookery Class in Chiang Mai
If you like the sound of our cookery class in Chiang Mai and want to try it for yourself then here are some practical details for Thai Akha Cookery School. We paid approximately £35 each which includes pick up and drop off at the hotel, the market tour and cooking class with all ingredients provided. Additionally, they also gave us a cookery book and packets of the herbs and spices for the curry paste we made. Just to be clear, we paid for our cookery course and so this is a totally unbiased and independent review. I enjoyed it so much that I just wanted to share.