Given how much I love food and eating it shouldn’t be a surprise that I also love cooking.
Cooking brings back memories of baking with my Nan or cooking Greek food with my Yia Yia and spending long periods of time in the kitchen with my mother.
Given how much I had learnt about Thai culture by eating their food I figured that learning to cook the food could only be another way to engage deeper with a culture I had began to fall in love with.
After a search of trip advisor and the menus available we had decided that Basil Cookery seemed like the best option for us. They picked us up from our hotel at around 9-9.30am and we went directly to the market.
At the market the extremely knowledgeable owner of the school, Tom, showed us many ingredients that are important to Thai cooking.
It was really informative- there were so many ingredients that I have never heard of and many ingredients that were used in very different ways in Thailand.
I felt especially ignorant to know that coconut milk and cream doesn’t just come out of a coconut but is made by squeezing water and dried coconut together! Also- who knew there were so many varieties of basil or of eggplants?
Other than just learning things from our market visit we also were able to interact with the locals at a market that they actually shop at.
We arrived during morning rush hour so there were many Thai people doing their daily shopping.
We also found this cute little lady that did the best fruit shakes and fruit bowls with yoghurt and muesli and we returned 3 more times during our stay in Chiang Mai.
After our visit to the market we headed back to the school to start cooking.
The first thing I noticed about Basil Cookery is that it is extremely clean- the second thing was that it was very organised and very efficient.
The ingredients were already set out on little individual plates at working stations.
Earlier we had selected which menu options we wanted to cook- there are 6 courses and for each course there are 3 dishes you can cook. Everyone makes his or her own individual dishes.
It wasn’t long before we were getting into cooking the first course- the Thai noodles.
Maddy cooked the famous pad thai while I cooked the thick rice noodle dish.
It’s actually amazing how quick Thai cooking is- all of your time goes into the preparation of the meal while the actual dish would take less than 5 minutes to cook in the Wok.
After we had chopped up our vegetables and created our stir fry sauce, we were instructed over to the woks to complete our noodles. Tom’s English was great and the instructions were very clear.
Before long we were sitting down to eat our first meal of the day. Everyone was there in pairs and most of them had had the same idea as us- cook opposite meals and then share the dishes when you sat down.
It was great as instead of just trying 6 dishes we got to try 12- and sometimes even more as our group got to know each other and our table became more of a communal meal.
The rest of the day continued in much the same way. We cooked Thai soups such as Tom Yum and Coconut soup which we ate with appetisers of Papaya Salad (Som Tam) and Thai spring rolls that we also cooked.
The Tom Yum was so spicy- when I added green chillies I had no idea that Tom would come along with an extra spoonful of red chilli paste. My mouth was on fire and had basically numbed after the first spoonful.
However the highlight of the day would have to have been making our very own curry pastes.
We were handed a huge mortar and pestle and added so many fresh herbs and spices until we had a beautiful paste from which to make our curries.
In Australia it is so easy just to buy paste in a jar but I think after making my own paste and eating the curry after that I’ll never be able to go back to the bought paste!
We also made some stir-fries- Chicken with Cashew Nuts and Prawns with Tamarind Sauce and some desserts- Mango Sticky Rice and Fried Bananas.
I loved how extensive the menu at Basil Cookery was and we never got bored of cooking. By the end of the day they practically had to roll us out of the building we were that full from eating our creations.
The cooking class at Basil Cookery was fun, interesting and informative and a great way to learn more about Thai life and Thai cooking! It makes me want to do more cooking classes in other parts of the world- I think it may be something to add to my travel itineraries in the future!
The course at Basil Cookery can be booked through most of the hotels in Chiang Mai or by sending them an email online. The course cost $40 AUD which included all of the food that we cooked and we ate.