Going to a Thai Cooking Class in Chiang Mai is often one of the activities on the Chiang Mai Bucket List of many travelers. So, like the many other tourists in the city we added going to a cooking class to our list of things to do in Chiang Mai.
After a bit of research online I came across Thai Akha Cooking School and instantly knew it was the one to do. Mainly for the fact that you cook (and eat) 11 dishes! So it seemed like a good deal compared to the other schools that I found.
They offer either a full day cooking class or just an evening class. We decided to do the full day class. The day started with getting picked up from our hotel at around 9am in a tuk tuk with the rest of our group. We then went to one of the local food markets to gather a few ingredients and learn a bit more about Thai ingredients.
Our cooking instructor (I can’t remember her name :/) was amazing, taking us through the market and stopping at the various stalls to explain the different kinds of vegetables and herbs/spices that are used in Thai cooking. Thai food markets are crazy places, with so many smells and interesting ingredients for sale that it was nice to have someone taking us around and explaining all of the strange things.
Here’s a few of the sights you’ll find in a Thai food market.
After we picked up the last few ingredients we then climbed back into the tuk tuk and make our way to the school which is located in the center of Chiang Mai Old City.
Thai Akha Cooking School is different from other cooking schools in Chiang Mai as they teach traditional Thai Akha cooking. Thai Akha’s are one of the many hill tribes living in Northern Thailand and have their own unique culture. During the class you also get to learn a bit more about the Thai Akha culture and language as well as their cooking style.
We each got our own work station which included a gas stove with a wok, cooking utensils and a few of the basic Thai flavours (including fish sauce and chilli powder). We then set to work making our dishes. First up were the starters of Papaya Salad and Spring Rolls. Both were quick and easy to make and we ate them straight away.
We then went through the other dishes, including Mango Sticky Rice, Coconut Stewed Pumpkin, Sapi Thong, Akha Salad, soup and then we each got to choose one curry and one stir-fry to cook. The curry choices were Red Curry, Green Curry, Panang or Massaman. The stir-fry dishes were Sweet and Sour Chicken Stir Fried with Pineapple, Chicken Stir Fry with Cashew Nut, Chicken Stir Fry with Hot Basil or Pad Thai.
We learnt how to make our own curry paste using a stone pestle and mortar – it was tough work! But so worth it in the end – the curries were delicious. After cooking all of the soup, curry and stir-fry dishes we moved into the dining room inside and had a feast! We all tried each others dishes to get a taste of everything. We were so full that we couldn’t even finish all of our dishes, so got to take a take-away bag home which we had for dins later that night.
If you’re looking for a cooking class in Chiang Mai, I’d definitely recommend Thai Akha Cooking School. They are all so lovely there, the food is great (as long as you don’t bugger it up) and you get to learn a lot about the Thai Akha culture and food.
The full day cost 1 000 Baht per person, including pick up and drop off from your hotel, the market tour, 11 dishes to cook and eat as well as a cook book and herb parcel to take home afterwards