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Love Chiang Mai Cooking Class Food

Experience Lanna Thai Food at a Chiang Mai Cooking Class

In Asia, Thailand by Daryl & Mindi HirschLeave a Comment

See why taking a Chiang Mai Cooking class is a must for lovers of Lanna Thai food. Unique to Northern Thailand, Lanna cuisine includes our favorite Thai dish – Khao Soi.

Love Chiang Mai Cooking Class

Finding a cooking class in Chiang Mai isn’t difficult. In fact, there are more than 50 cooking class options in Thailand’s second largest city. With so many Thai cooking classes in Chiang Mai, food-focused visitors to Thailand often count this culinary experience as a holiday highlight.

Active participants learn about the origins of Thai cuisine in a casual, interactive setting. Plus, cooking Thai food can be a lot of fun. The challenge is finding the right Chiang Mai cooking class for your interests and cooking level.

Love Chiang Mai Cooking Class - Coconut Milk

We cooked food from scratch during our Lanna style Chiang Mai cooking class. Mindi is pictured here squeezing milk out of coconut flesh.

Since taking a Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai in 2016, we wanted to delve deeper into Chiang Mai’s local Lanna Thai cuisine. After doing some research on the TakeMeTour website, we signed up for a Lanna style cooking class in the countryside just outside the city center.

What made this cooking class different than most in Chiang Mai? We chopped lemongrass and chicken legs. We boiled and fried noodles. We simmered fresh coconut milk over a charcoal stove. We even prepared homemade chili oil.

This was a cooking class that truly exposed us, as students, to the fundamentals of Lanna cuisine and life in this beautiful, green corner of Northern Thailand. 

TakeMeTour offers this cooking class and other food-related activities as part of its Local Table gastronomy campaign in collaboration with the Tourism Authority of Thailand. These culinary activities provide tourists the opportunity to explore Thai culture in the best way possible – through the country’s awesome food.

Pro Tip: In addition to the Lanna style cooking class, TakeMeTour offers a wide variety of curated activities in Chiang Mai including food tours and bike trips. The booking platform provides a way for travelers to connect with locals and participate in authentic experiences. Click here to find the right TakeMeTour activity for you.

Lanna Thai Food

Love Chiang Mai Cooking Class - Second Course

Lanna Thai food is some of the tastiest food in all of Thailand.

Lanna food, influenced by the cuisines of Burma and China, has a unique flavor profile featuring ingredients that differ from other Thai food favorites. Lanna food originates from North Thailand and is unlike Thai food found in Bangkok, the Southern beaches and Issan in the Northeast.

Not a passing fad, Lanna cuisine dates back over 700 years when Lanna was a kingdom separate from Thailand. Beyond Lanna cuisine, the kingdom had its own language, customs and traditions. As we learned during our Chiang Mai cooking class, many locals still speak the sacred Lanna language and cook the food of their ancestors.

Love Chiang Mai Market Visit

Chiang Mai market vendors sell ingredients necessary for both Thai and Lanna cuisine.

Popular Lanna Thai menu items include Khao Soi, Curries and Chiang Mai Sausage. Since Lanna literally translates to one million rice fields, it’s no surprise that rice is an integral part of Lanna cuisine. Harkening back to days when most Lanna people worked as farmers, sticky rice is popular for both its portability and nutritional value.

Chiang Mai Market Sausage

Chiang Mai Sausage is a popular protein in Lanna cuisine.

Beyond rice, Lanna food uses a variety of local products like finger root, ginger, soy paste, kaffir lime, turmeric and chilis. Proteins run the gamut from chicken to pork to frogs. If you haven’t eaten frogs before, they taste like chicken. That’s our story, and we’re sticking to it.

Pro Tip: Be sure to include Chiang Mai and/or Chiang Rai in your Thailand itinerary if you’re curious to try Thai Lanna food at the source. These two Thai cities are both located in the former Lanna kingdom.

Chiang Mai Cooking Class Highlights

Love Chiang Mai Cooking Class Demo

Panphalin Puntira (Lin) conducted our Love Chiang Mai Cooking Class.

Our whirlwind day included a stop at a bustling Chiang Mai market, a stroll through an organic farm and many hours of cooking and eating. Panphailin Puntira (Lin) guided us through the process, teaching us new cooking skills and sharing stories that brought Lanna food to life.

Lin spent the day with us as she patiently taught us about the history of Lanna food and the cuisine of her family which orignially hails from nearby Yunnan, China. We cooked, we laughed and we ate a lot of great food. By the end of the day, we felt like we were part of the family.

Lin doesn’t run Love Chiang Mai Cooking School alone. Her capable partner Ubonway Jansee (Rain) assisted us during the day. And in true family fashion, Lin’s 18 year old daughter Falada (Fah) joined in to help work the grill.

We quickly learned that cooking has been a passion since Lin’s mother taught her to cook when Lin was just three years old. Since opening her Lanna Thai cooking school in 2014, Lin has shared her passion with hundreds, if not thousands, of international chefs and food travelers.

Read on for a recap of our experience. Then watch our Chiang Mai Cooking Class video for the rest of the story.

Chiang Mai Market

Love Chiang Mai Cooking Class - Market Tour

Lin walked us through the bustling Chiang Mai market, explaining the different products as we shopped.

Lin started our Chiang Mai cooking class experience with a shopping trip at a bustling local market. Though this was not our first visit to a Thai market, it was the first time with an expert who took the time to explain the products that make both traditional Thai food and Thai Lanna food so unique and flavorful.

Chiang Mai Market Tour

Chiang Mai markets are a great place to sample local produce.

As we added healthy items to our baskets, Lin explained the different products that filled the inside of the busy market and spilled onto the street. We learned about different vegetables, discussed which chilies are sexier and tasted pig brain with minced pork. The pig brain was optional, but, hoping to improve our intelligence, we were game to give it a try.

Love Chiang Mai Cooking Class - Market Eggs

We didn’t buy any pink eggs but we’re curious as to how they taste.

This market trip wasn’t just for fun. We literally purchased many of the necessary ingredients for the recipes that we’d be cooking throughout the day such as finger root, pork belly, kaffir lime and freshly killed frogs.

Pro Tip: Quench your thirst with a bag of iced coffee or iced tea at the market. These Thai beverages are both sweet and satisfying on a hot day.

Organic Garden

Love Chiang Mai Cooking Class - Organic Garden

Lin’s organic garden produces a varied selection of herbs and vegetables.

Since we didn’t buy all of the necessary ingredients at the market, we supplemented our bounty at Lin’s organic garden. Lin grows a mix of vegetables and herbs including holy basil, sweet basil, ginger root, okra and mushrooms – all crucial in Lanna cuisine and better when fresh. She even cultivates her own mushrooms in a special wooden shed.

Thai Cooking Basics

Mindi Grinds Rice at Love Chiang Mai Cooking Class

Grinding rice by hand is not for the weak or lazy. It’s hard work.

This Chiang Mai cooking class is not for people who want to sit around and nibble all day. Not only did Lin teach us the basics of Thai cooking, but she also put us to work in all aspects of the food preparation.

Daryl Makes Kanom Krok at Love Chiang Mai Cooking Class

Spooning batter for Kanom Krok is a fun but challenging task.

We not only sliced, diced and chopped but we also squeezed milk out of freshly shredded coconut and ground rice into flour. We even made red curry the old fashioned way by pounding our ingredients with a mortar and pestle.

Pounding ingredients with a mortar requires a certain skill of rhythmic hitting and twisting that may seem simple but can only be learned through constant repetition and practice. The constant slapping sound is even used to measure a woman’s suitability in the matrimonial kitchen. Making curry is that central to Northern Thai life.

First Course

Love Chiang Mai Cooking Class - Khao Soi

We made this Khao Soi with a little help from Lin. And by little, we mean a lot.

After falling for Khao Soi during our first visit to Chiang Mai and continuing the love affair at Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok in Portland, we were excited to learn how to make the popular coconut curry noodle soup. Lin put us to work with the aforementioned mortar and pestle which we used to pound a melange of ingredients into khao soi curry paste. But that was just part of the process.

Love Chiang Mai Cooking Class - Noodles

Mindi can rarely say no to rice noodles.

Sure, travelers can buy Khao Soi at many Chiang Mai eateries. But this Khao Soi was special, partly because we helped to make it and partly because it was real deal Khao Soi made with love and a whole bunch of authentic ingredients.

Pro Tip: Making Khao Soi is not a quick process. Beyond the prep work, simmering takes at least three hours.

Second Course

Love Chiang Mai Cooking Class Food

Our second course featured two curries, Chiang Mai Sausage and sticky rice.

Ironically, we could have happily stopped after the Khao Soi and left feeling positive about the Chiang Mai cooking class. But the hearty bowls were just the start of our Lanna meal.

For the second course, we prepared two curries and Chiang Mai Sausage. No surprise with Lin, we prepared both from scratch.

The first curry was a mixed vegetable curry with frog, chili, pumpkin, eggplant and tarot. This curry was a chili bomb that went kaboom when we tasted it. The second curry was a milder sugar cane curry based on a Burmese recipe.

Love Chiang Mai - Chiang Mai Sausage

Preparing Chiang Mai Sausage by hand is a lot of work but worth it for the spicy end result.

For the Chiang Mai Sausage, we combined minced pork, pork belly, curry paste and lemongrass and stuffed the mixture into intestines before grilling the sausage in a spiral shape. Many people enjoy sausage without knowing how it’s made. If you take Lin’s class you’ll know and appreciate the process.

Pro Tip: Plan to eat Lanna curries with sticky rice. Based on ancient traditions, silverware is optional.

Dessert

Love Chiang Mai Cooking Class - Kanom Krok Dessert

We need more practice with plating Khanom Krok. Luckily, taste counted more than style during our Chiang Mai cooking class.

The original menu for our Lanna style cooking class ended with Khanom Wong (Northern-Style Donuts), but Lin made a quick change when she learned that we have a sweet spot (pun intended) for Khanom Krok (Coconut Rice Pancakes). We’d eaten the Northern Thailand specialty at Chiang Mai street markets but had never made the dish ourselves.

Earning dessert, we physically ground rice into flour and then mixed it with coconut milk and palm sugar. We had previously squeezed the milk from fresh coconut flesh, forming a full circle for the day when we used the milk in this Lanna recipe.

Love Chiang Mai Cooking Class - Kanom Krok

Don’t mind the mess – these Khanom Krok hit all the right flavor notes.

Using a pan handed down from Lin’s mother, we fried the batter into individual pancakes. The end result wasn’t particularly pretty, but our Khanom Krok tasted fantastic if we do say so ourselves.

After plating the little treats on banana leaves and topping them with scallions, we ate the Khanom Krok until they were just a happy memory. It was just one experience we’ll remember from this special day of cooking and camaraderie.

Pro Tip: Memories are not the only souvenir from this Chiang Mai cooking class. Each participant gets a 70-page cookbook filled with Thai Lanna recipes. 


Hungry for more? Check out our Chiang Mai food guide for tips on what and where to eat in Chiang Mai.


Book Your Travel

Air Asia Flight

Flying Air Asia is fun.

Air Asia flies to Thailand from many major Asian cities. Our Air Asia flights from Da Nang to Bangkok and from Bangkok to Chiang Mai were both pleasant and uneventful.

Research Your Chiang Mai Hotel

Ibis Styles Lobby in Chiang Mai

The lobby at e Ibis Stules Hotel in Chiang Mai has fun design.

Ibis Styles is a great Chiang Mai hotel option for short-term visitors. We found the moderately priced hotel to be both comfortable and conveniently located near Maya Mall.

Ibis Styles Pool in Chiang Mai

Fancy a dip?

Amenities include free juice in the lobby, a swimming pool and daily breakfast served buffet style. Click here to research rates for this hotel in Chiang Mai.

Stay Connected

You’ll want WiFi on the go for mapping, ordering Grab cars, translating menus and posting Instagram stories. Click here to order a dtac SIM card.

This is a great option if your mobile phone is unlocked and you want to stay connected. However, be aware that the airport pickup is in Bangkok and not Chiang Mai.

Buy a Travel Guide

We thank TakeMeTour and the Tourism Authority of Thailand for hosting us to facilitate this article. We also thank their partners Accor Hotels, Air Asia and dtac.

See why you need to take a Lanna style cooking class when you visit Chiang Mai. #ChiangMai #Thailand #KhaoSoi

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