Our passion for cooking international cuisine started in 2015 when we visited Asia for the first time and took a cooking class in Bangkok. Since then, one of the activities we love to do while visiting a new place is to participate in a cooking school. Because of that we decided to visit Thai Akha Cooking School Chiang Mai during our stay in northern Thailand. In this post, we will tell you about our experience, and what we cooked. Prepare to get hungry!
The Market Tour
The Akha Thai Cooking School offers two different half day cooking classes: A morning class and an evening class. Because we also wanted the market tour experience, we decided to take the morning Thai cookery course. So on the day of our cooking class, a Chiang Mai red truck taxi picked us up early in front of our hotel.
Together with the rest of our group, we drove to the meeting point where we met our guide and cooking teacher JJ. JJ speaks fluent English, and is very friendly with a great sense of humour. The ten people in our group introduced ourselves to one another before we started the tour in the market.
Before you can cook anything you have to buy the ingredients, and these as fresh as possible. The Bumrung Buri Market near the Chiang Mai gate on the south side of the city is perfect for buying all the fresh ingredients you need for a Thai feast. Our first stop was at a fruit vendor. JJ told us a lot of helpful information about the different types of mangos and other Thai fruit and how they are used in Thai cuisine. We were able to taste some samples at the stall.
Deep fried pork skin
The mixture of fragrances, noises and colours made this market visit a marvellous experience. One of my personal highlights was the discovery of deep fried pork skin (cab moo) and the fiery chilli sauce you dip it in. Finding such local treats shows how helpful it is, to have a guide who explains everything, and can give you a deeper insight into a cuisine.
After we got all the ingredients we would need for preparing our meals, we were then taken to the actual cooking school where we were welcomed with fresh coffee.
Thai Akha Cooking School Chiang Mai
Inside the school, there were 12 single work stations, each equipped with a burner and all the pans and utensils we would use for cooking. The work stations are arranged in a horseshoe, with the cooking instructors table on the top position so everyone could see him demonstrating what he was doing. All the equipment was high quality, and the place was clean and tidy.
After we enjoyed our morning coffee it was already time to get our kitchen aprons on and start with the highlight of the day, the Thai cooking lessons. In total we learned 11 different dishes! Two starters, two desserts, three traditional Akha dishes, one curry paste and a curry, one stir-fry and one soup.
We all used the same recipes for the starters, the desserts and the traditional Akha dishes, but we could individually choose 1 of 4 recipes for each of the other categories. So as a couple you can learn together a total of 15 different recipes!
A Chiang Mai cooking class for everyone
Vegetarian or vegan? This is absolutely no problem. Our group was a colourful mix of omnivores, vegetarians and vegans and everyone was able to cook according to her/his preferences. Because of this flexibility, the Akha Thai Cooking class Chiang Mai is also perfect if you’re looking for vegetarian cooking classes within the city.
For every dish you was preparing in this Thailand cooking class, you were able to choose how spicy you want it. The range went from “non spicy” over “spicy” to “Thai spicy”.
During the cooking class, JJ was mainly standing in the middle and gave us instructions, but when someone had a question he went straight to that person and helped out. The pace of the cooking class is very comfortable. You always cook a bit, sit down to eat your dishes and then cook a bit more. The portion sizes were not too big, which is fantastic when plan to eat 10 of them!
The Akha dishes were definitely some of the absolute highlights of the day. The Akha are one of the hill tribes in Northern Thailand, so these recipes are based on their traditional cuisine. They tasted even healthier and fresher than the Thai recipes and were all dishes we had never heard of before. Adding these unique dishes to the repertoire really puts the Thai Akha Cooking School among the best cooking class in Chiang Mai.
After we cooked our last dish, we all sat at a big table and enjoyed our last course together. JJ told us at this point a lot about the Akha tribe and their life up in the mountains. He and the other cooking teachers are all Akha themselves, which makes the whole cooking school even more authentic. He told us some very funny anecdotes, and answered all of our questions about his people and culture.
At the end we said our goodbyes and everyone got a printed and a digital version of the Thai cookbook with all the recipes we had cooked at the cooking school. Furthermore we could chose one ready mixed set of spices for a curry to make at home – a very nice gesture to close off the day. If you want to know how to cook a Thai yellow curry from scratch, but don’t want to visit a cooking school, then we present you a Thai Yellow Chicken Curry Recipe on our blog.
Verdict of the Thai Akha Cooking School Chiang Mai
The Thai Akha Cooking School Chiang Mai was an awesome experience and in our opinion it is the best Thai cookery school in Chiang Mai. We really enjoyed every minute. We absolutely can recommend this cooking school if you want to learn to cook some Thai and especially Akha recipes. There are some reasons why we really recommend taking this cooking class above the others that are offered in Chiang Mai:
- JJ is a fantastic guide and an even better cooking instructor
- With max. 12 participants this cooking class is not too big.
- Everyone has her/his own work station
- You learn 11 different recipes and cook each one yourself (not just watching someone else do it)
- You have an individual choice of what you want to cook for four of the recipes.
- With the traditional Akha recipes you learn something truly special and unique
- The market visit is very informative and a lot of fun
Disclosure: We were kindly invited to experience the services of the Thai Akha Cooking School in exchange for an honest review. All words and opinions are our own.