Thanks to the incredible food culture, a cooking class is a must-do experience for anybody visiting Thailand. During our time in Chiang Mai, Thailand’s Northern foodie hub, Jamie and I were keen to learn the secrets behind some of the famous, flavoursome dishes. After a bit of research to find the best place to learn to cook vegetarian Thai food, I found that May Kaidee was being recommended over and over. So, with the promise of cooking up to 10 meat-free dishes, we excitedly headed down to the small restaurant one afternoon.
Confession time: I’m completely useless in the kitchen. It’s a proud moment when I can sum up the energy to cook, almost always preferring the convenience of a takeaway. So, when we walked into the restaurant to see bowls full of prepared and chopped ingredients I almost jumped for joy.
The great part about Thai food is that so many recipes use similar ingredients, including chilli paste (which we also learned to make), tofu, coconut milk, soy sauce, mixed vegetables and lime juice. This means that you can prepare a whole batch and create so many dish variations using them. With the time consuming bit done for us, we immediately jumped in with the first recipes.
Great soups are a key part of Thai cuisine and we had two varieties ahead of us. Considering how different they tasted, the soups were surprisingly similar to create. Tom Yam soup (above) is the more spicy version with plenty of chilli and lime while Tom Kha (below) uses coconut milk for a mild and creamy flavour.
Look mum, I’m doing real cooking!
Then, it was time for the famous Pad Thai. In Thailand, you’ll watch in awe as street vendors skillfully whip this sweet, sour, salty and spicy dish up in less than five minutes. After creating our own peanut sauce, we fired up the heat and were soon enjoying our incredible creations. Modest, I know.
Obviously, getting to eat in between the cooking was my favourite part.
Main dishes complete, we then created an amazing pumpkin hummus and a spicy papaya salad before sitting down to relax. However, we were so full that our Thai Green Curry and Massaman Curry ended up being a delicious breakfast the next day.
Unbelievably, there was still time (and room!) for a sticky rice dessert, accompanied by mango and banana.
Learning to cook Thai food was an amazing experience and with a class of just 6, there was plenty of personal attention to prevent any disasters on my part! The class is also suitable for vegans as you can opt out of including the egg in your Pad Thai, as we did. I already can’t wait to try my hand at the dishes at home and hopefully prevent myself from reaching for the takeaway menu again…