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Thai cuisine is one of our favourite foods to eat so a cooking class was high on my (Caroline) list of things to do when we arrived in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai. There are many cooking experiences available, but after doing some research, I decided to book a half day class with the highly rated Thai Farm Cooking School. I liked that it was located in an organic farm outside of Chiang Mai old town, plus the school is very well established and has been running classes since the year 2000.
Watch our Thai Farm Cooking School Chiang Mai cooking class video!
Booking a cooking class in Chiang Mai
The half day class at Thai Farm Cooking School costs 1200 THB per person and includes pick up/drop off from city centre hotels, a visit to a local market and class instruction on how to make 5 traditional Thai dishes (all ingredients included). They also offer full day classes for 1500 THB which I would have opted for but was limited on time in the city. The half day class picks you up at 8.30am, and you are dropped back at your hotel between 2.30pm-3pm.
I booked by filling out a booking form on the Thai Farm Cooking School website – once they have confirmed your date you then you need to make full payment at least 24 hours before the class starts, either by PayPal or at their office in Chiang Mai’s old town – head to their website for more details.
The classes are usually fully booked due to their popularity so try and book your spot well in advance. If you cannot book with them then there are many alternative classes available in Chiang Mai. Check out Klook and GetYourGuide, but make sure to check out the reviews first.
Thai Farm cooking class – market visit
The minivan picked me up from 99 The Heritage hotel at 8.30am and I was greeted by our guide/teacher for the day – Kim, who is super sweet and full of energy! The van picked up around 10 other people in total from hotels around the city and weirdly I was the only non-American on the whole tour!
The location of Thai Farm Cooking School is around 17km from Chiang Mai old town (a 30-40 minute drive), but we made a quick stop on the way to visit a fresh market called Ruamchook.
Kim gave us a short tour of the local market and took us to various stalls to explain which local ingredients we would be using in our upcoming class such sticky rice, coconut milk and Thai fish sauce. We then had a chance to have a wander around by ourselves for 15 minutes to take photos or to buy any snacks or drinks.
Thai Farm Cooking School
Upon arrival at Thai Farm Cooking School, I was wowed by the beautiful and tranquil lush green setting. We were welcomed to the school with cups of warm lemongrass tea and ice cold water, and then given a bit of free time to settle in and use the restrooms.
There were about 5 other groups arriving in minivans around the same time we did, but each group had their own separate cooking areas so we never really saw them.
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A walk around Thai Farm Cooking School’s organic farm
The grounds of the farm used to be a rice field in the past and is now an organic garden filled with an abundance of fruit trees and vegetable patches. Kim gave each of us an apron and straw hat to wear and then took us for a short tour before we started the cooking class.
All of the herbs, vegetables and fruits that are used in the class are grown on their own farm and Kim introduced us to many of the the different items of produce. We learned about exotic ingredients such as jackfruit, rambutan, lemongrass, Thai aubergine and galangal, and got to taste them as well!
Cooking class begins!
After our tour of the grounds was over it was time to start cooking! Kim led us to our work stations which are located in a large, semi covered kitchen. Each student has their own individual cooking station with a stove, table, chopping block, mortar and pestle, knives, spatula and many other cooking utensils.
Whilst we were in the mini van on our way to the school, we were given a piece of paper where we ticked which dishes we wanted to cook (veggie options available). The menu changes depending on what day of the week it is. The day of my class was a Tuesday so our options for the day were a Thai curry, a Thai soup, spring rolls and mango sticky rice.
Kim had a workstation at the front of the class, but had cookery assistants on hand to clean equipment, prepare the different ingredients for us (all chopped up) and help us out when Kim was busy so that the class moved quickly and smoothly.
Thai red curry
The first dish of the day is a choice of red, green or yellow curry. I opted for red as it is my favourite, and also opted for vegetarian so the main ingredient was tofu.
Kim handed us each a small bowl with all the raw ingredients we needed to create our own curry paste from scratch – a shallot, a garlic clove, diced red chillies, a piece of galangal, a stick of lemongrass and a basil leaf.
We created our own curry paste using traditional methods – manually pounding the ingredients in a mortar and pestle. Pounding your own curry paste is hard work and takes a quite a while, every item needs to be smashed until it becomes a very smooth paste. If you are making the paste at home it is much easier to use a blender to speed things up!
Following Kim’s instructions, we fried the fragrant paste in a little oil and then slowly added the coconut milk to the pan. Finally we all added our proteins and I added small cubes of tofu and some basil leaves into the mixture, and voila – we now have a rich and spicy Thai curry!
Kim demonstrated to us us how we could present our curries in a pretty way. She carefully drizzled white coconut milk rainbow shapes on top of the curry, then used a back of a spoon to create patterns with it. My attempt was a bit messy if I’m going to be honest – I definitely need a lot more practice!
Shrimp Tom Yum soup
Our next dish was a choice between Tom Yum soup and Tom Kha coconut soup. I opted for Tom Yum as I just adore the spicy/sour combination. I also went for shrimp as the main ingredient to mix things up a bit.
This was a super simple dish to make as the ingredients for the broth are all cooked in one single pan. We were given a pre-made tom yum paste (which is widely available to buy anywhere in the world), fresh herbs, a lime, oyster mushrooms, raw shrimp, a shallot, 2 green chillies and a cherry tomato.
Again we followed Kim’s step by step directions and it was great fun to make. I’m looking forward to recreating this soup at home.
Vegetable spring rolls
The next dish tested our rolling and folding skills! First we individually wok fried some glass noodles and chopped vegetables for the spring roll filling, then followed step by step instructions on how to roll up our spring roll tightly and neatly so that it won’t fall apart when it came to frying! We rolled one large spring roll each and Kim then deep fried them for us.
Lunch and Papaya Salad demonstration
We all sat down together on a long table to eat the dishes we had created so far – curry, soup and spring rolls with some steamed rice. Whilst we were all stuffing our faces, Kim gave us a demonstration on how to create Papaya Salad. This dish is one of my all time favourites, I discovered it at a food stall on a beach in Koh Chang about 15 years ago and have been obsessed with it ever since.
Papaya Salad is a famous street food also known as as ‘Som Tam’ and originates in the northeastern part of the Thailand. It is made from shredded julienne Thai green papaya and carrot, which is then tossed in a mortar and pestle with chillies, lime juice, cherry tomatoes, dried shrimp, fish sauce, green beans, palm sugar and roasted peanuts. The flavours are fresh and crisp, spicy, sour and sweet, and is best served with some warm sticky rice and BBQ chicken.
Mango sticky rice
Before we finished for the day we all sat down together to make one of Thailand’s most famous desserts -mango sticky rice. Kim added a twist to the dessert by using butterfly pea flower as a dye to make the sticky rice a beautiful blue/purple colour (a dye that was also used in the noodles in my Bangkok cooking class). Kim encouraged us to be creative with the presentation of our dessert by announcing she was going to pick a winner of the best looking dish!
Mango sticky rice is a fairly simple dessert to make and is a heavenly combination of chunks of ripe mango with sweet and glutinous sticky rice that has been cooked in coconut milk. Kim gave us flowers, banana leaf, coconut milk and sesame seeds to use to decorate the dish, and we had some beautiful looking plates at the end (and no I didn’t win).
It was great fun being artistic with our food, and even better when we got to eat it afterwards. We were well and truly stuffed by this point with very happy bellies. Before we headed back to Chiang Mai old town, Kim gave each of us a nice recipe booklet to take home so that we can recreate the dishes from the class.
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Finals thoughts on Thai Farm Cooking School
I love doing cooking classes whenever I visit a new city as it is a great way to try new local dishes, as well as learn brand new culinary skills that I can use back home to impress my friends – and this class did not disappoint.
In summary I had a great day and would highly recommend adding Thai Farm Cooking School to your Chiang Mai itinerary. It was very well organised and the staff were extremely friendly, and in my opinion great value for money.
Other Chiang Mai and Thailand posts you might like
- A Chiang Mai food tour – eating like a local!
- Sunday Walking Street night market in Chiang Mai
- Top things to do in Chiang Rai
- Chiang Rai itinerary – the perfect 1 or 2 days in Chiang Rai
- Visiting the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai
- A Thai cookery class ‘with a twist’ in Bangkok’s flower market
- Exploring Bangkok at night by Tuk Tuk
- A luxurious stay at the Avani Riverside hotel in Bangkok
- A stylish stay in the heart of Chiang Mai – 99 The Heritage
- Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok – the ultimate guide
Chiang Mai accommodation
Family Home Hostel
Highly rated hostel a short walk away from the old town. Check out prices and availability for Family Home Hostel.
The Islander Chiang Mai
Highly rated Thai style hostel with rooftop area. Located 2 minutes away from the famous Saturday Night Market. Check out prices and availability for The Islander.
Hug Hostel Rooftop
Comfy and clean hostel with rooftop bar. Check out prices and availability for Hug Hostel Rooftop.
Highly rated hotel a 10-minute walk from Chiang Mai Night Bazaar with outdoor pool. Check out prices and availability for Rimping Village.
Amata Lanna Village
Beautiful 4-star resort located a short drive from Chiang Mai old town. Check out prices and availability for Amata Lanna Village
3-star hotel with pool, restaurant, garden and buffet breakfast. Check out prices and availability for Villa Sanpakoi.
99 The Heritage Hotel
Gorgeous boutique hotel set in a colonial building with outdoor pool. Check out prices and availability for 99 The Heritage
X2 Chiang Mai Riverside Resort
Luxurious hotel set on the banks of the majestic Ping River with rooftop gym, spa, pool and bar that overlooks the river. Check out prices and availability for X2 Chiang Mai Riverside Resort
Anantara Chiang Mai Resort
Hotel with minimalist Asian design, located along the banks of the Ping River with a spa, cocktail bar and pool. Check out prices and availability for Anantara Chiang Mai Resort
Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel & Spa
Hotel set in a colonial-style building with outdoor pool, a restaurant and lobby bar. Just a 5-minute walk to the Night Bazaar. Check out prices and availability for Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel & Spa
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