Basil Cookery School: The Thai Home Cooking Experience
We can’t rave enough about Thai food. We loved it at home in the States and we have tried so many new things here in Thailand that have only made us like it more. While it is easier and usually less expensive to run out and grab dinner every night, we are still excited to learn to cook for ourselves so we can share authentic Thai food with our friends. Our second Thai cooking class was with Basil Thai Cooking School in Chiang Mai.
After our host, Apple, picked us up from our apartment in a silver van marked with the Basil logo, we chose our menu items for the day from a list she handed out on the way to a local market in the Old City. While walking through the market, Apple talked us through a few spices and sauces commonly used in Thai dishes and what to look for when buying them. We learned about different types of ginger and other ingredients used in soups to add flavor, but that are not eaten.
After a short introduction, we had about 15 minutes to wander the market. This was our first time visiting one in the Old City, so we enjoyed walking around looking at the various foods and clothing for sale. Everything is much cheaper there than in any convenience store or shopping mall in Chiang Mai. Maybe one day we will sum up the courage to order some meat or fish in one of the markets.
Our cooking class was in a small, homey building in a quiet neighborhood behind the Kad Suan Kaew shopping mall. With a maximum size of seven people per class, it really felt like we had been invited into someone’s home for dinner.
Everyone made one dish from each category: appetizer, soup, curry, noodles, stir-fry and dessert. The kitchen was small and Apple was able to help everyone individually. After each dish, we carried them back to the table to sit and enjoy. Apple joined us to chat and go over what we had made, asking our opinion of everything. It was nice to have some conversation with her and be able to ask questions about the food and discuss Thai culture in general.
Before our main course and dessert, we had an hour break which felt a little long to us. Maybe for those in town for less time it was nice to be able to run into the mall or go get a quick massage, but it was a bit too warm to go for much of a walk and we certainly didn’t need to grab a snack.
After the break we cooked our curry, stir-fry and dessert. We even made fresh coconut milk by squeezing coconut shavings wrapped up in cheesecloth into a big bowl of water. Delicious! We might be getting better at seasoning our own food, because we both liked our curry better than we did the first time. Or maybe the recipe, which was a bit more complex, had more flavor to it.
Something that will be easy to replicate at home are deep-fried bananas which we ate with coconut ice cream, but would probably be great with honey as well. You can also substitute bananas for sweet potatoes or pumpkin. Just toss them in some wheat flour, rice flour, grated coconut, sesame seeds, salt and cold water, and then fry in a wok for about 10 minutes.
The limited class size, the small kitchen and dining area, and Apple’s friendly demeanor made the experience so comfortable it didn’t feel like a class at all. Basil Cookery School is incredibly relaxed, but still informative. It is a perfect option for those looking for an intimate course to get a taste of a typical Thai home kitchen.
- Basil cooking classes only take seven guests at a time, so make sure you try to make reservations in advance. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Morning and afternoon classes are offered from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 8:30 p.m.
- Before your main course, you will have an hour break, so make plans to either walk through the mall or get a quick massage on Huay Kaew
- Your cooking class comes with an easy-to-follow cookbook that outlines typical ingredients and spices
Poplar Travels participated in this course as a guest of Basil Cookery School. Our opinion is always our own.