Learning How to Cook Traditional Thai Dishes at Grandma’s Cooking School

Grandma's Village Farm and Cooking School in Thailand

Have you ever wondered how to make the dishes you order in the restaurants? How can you make your favorite dish at home? One of my favorite thing to do while traveling is to take a cooking class, and learning Thai cooking at Grandma’s Cooking School was so much fun.

For my family and friends that know that I’m not a big fan of cooking, they would be surprised to see that this is something I enjoy when I’m traveling. Spending four months living in Thailand, I got used to eating Thai food. And before I left, I wanted to learn how to make some of my favorites at home. Here is everything you need to know about Grandma’s Cooking School in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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Touring the Local MarketBagged vegetables in a Thai market

The first step to learning how to make traditional Thai dishes was to understand where the ingredients came from. I was dropped off at a Thai market to meet-up with the rest of the Grandma’s Cooking School class. As I was early, I got to spend some time wandering through the aisles, admiring the smells from all the spices, the agility of their chopping skills in the meat area, and their desire for successful entrepreneurship. Explaining the difference in rice

When the rest of the group showed up, we were taken through and given an in-depth review of the market. We learned the differences between the variety of rice and which sauces are the best tp purchase when making Thai dishes. Part of the tour had the vendors giving us samples. With me being American, they were extra nice to me, having me try all sorts of treats that I have never had before. Exploring the market was eye-opening on how you are supposed to shop for the ingredients to make Thai dishes. The best part was that the guide, Joy made a point of telling us what to get instead if we couldn’t find the Thai sauces at home. Bagged food in Thai marketSauces to use in Thai cooking

Organic Farm VisitGrandma's cooking school panoramic view

Entering the gates of Grandma’s Village Farm, you are brought onto a rural farm that resembles a hotel resort. There are ponds, water fountains, tree swings, even bananas growing from trees. You get dropped off in front of an open pavilion with cooking stations, which is where the Grandma’s Cooking School class is taught. Joy, our chef takes you around the farm to see where they grow all some of the food that you will be using in their kitchen. You will see huge sunflowers, edible flowers, large vegetables growing from trellises, and plants covered in colorful red and green peppers. You might even see a couple of roosters moving around.Organic field at Grandmas cooking school

Red peppers growing on a farm

Grandma’s Cooking School InformationSet up for the Thai cooking class

Grandma’s Cooking School is for non-Thai residents only. You can book the 5-hour class: Chiang Mai: Authentic Thai Cooking Class and Farm Visit with Get Your Guide. The class fee is $40. The fee covers the market visit, a welcome drink, organic farm visit, English-speaking instructor, small-group size, pick-up and drop-off at your hotel, and downloadable recipes.

At the beginning of the class, you get to choose your source of protein for your dishes. My class had options to make Hot and Sour Soup or Coconut Soup; Green Curry, Red Curry, Khao Soi, or Panaeang Curry; and Pad Thai. Then we were treated to Mango and Sticky Rice for dessert. Come Hungry and be prepared for a lot of food to eat when you are all finished cooking at Grandma’s Cooking School.Dishes made at the Thai Cooking Class at Grandmas Cooking School

Hot and Sour SoupHot and Sour Soup made in the Thai Cooking Class

The first thing we worked on was making the soup. I chose to make Hot and Sour Soup (a.k.a Tom Yum Soup) with chicken. The other choice was to add shrimp or make it Vegetarian. Some helpers set up all the ingredients for each dish and laid them out for us. Joy would then demonstrate it at her station, and then we would all cook.Thai cooking class at Grandmas Cooking School

Hot and Sour Soup RecipeIngredients for the Hot and Sour Soup

Ingredients:

  • 5-7 fresh prawns (vegetarian alternative: Oyster/mushrooms, Tofu) or Chicken
  • 200g vegetable broth or any kind of broth
  • 1-2 stalks lemongrass, diagonally sliced into 1-inch length
  • 4-5 slices Galangal
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, stripped in halves
  • Shallots smashed slightly with cleaver or pestle
  • Tomato quartered
  • Coriander, cut into 1 cm. lengths
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (vegetarian alternative: soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp Lime juice
  • 1 shot coconut milk or unsweetened evaporated milk

Preparation:

  1. In a medium-sized pot, bring water/broth to boil over high heat. Add lemongrass, galangal, chilies, kaffir lime leaves, and shallots. Let simmer to allow the herbs to infuse.
  2. Add tomato and mushrooms. Then season with sugar, fish sauce, and chili paste oil. Stir lightly until simmer.
  3. Add prawns (chicken) and coconut milk. Let simmer until prawns are just cooked.
  4. Remove from heat and squeeze in lime juice.
  5. Spoon into a serving bowl and garnish with coriander and spring onion.

Khao SoiBowl of Khao Soi

Khao Soi happens to be my favorite food to eat in Chiang Mai. If you like spicy food, you will love the fusion of savory flavors in this dish. I can always tell a dish is too spicy for me when my nose starts to sniffle. That is my cue that I’m hitting my limit for spice tolerance. But, this dish is so good that I don’t care, and I just make sure to have a kleenex handy when eating this dish. I chose to make this dish with chicken, but my absolute favorite is to have it with a Kai Jeow (Thai Omelet) in it.

Khao Soi RecipeIngredients for Khao Soi

Khao Soi Yellow Curry Paste (Nam Pik Khao Soi)Making curry in the Thai cooking class

Ingredients:

  • 5 sun-dried chilis, remove seeds and soak in warm water
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic or 4-5 cloves Thai garlic
  • 1-2 medium-sized shallots
  • 1/2-1 tbsp. lemongrass
  • 1 tbsp. galangal
  • 1 tsp. coriander root
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. kaffir lime rind
  • 1 tsp. peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander seeds, roasted
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin, roasted
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. masala powder or curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. shrimp paste

Preparation:

  1. In a mortar bowl, pound roasted dried herbs, coriander seeds, cumin, and peppercorn until finely grounded
  2. Add the remaining ingredients except for the shrimp paste. Pound until well combined.
  3. Add shrimp paste, continue pounding until the mixture forms a smooth and fine paste.

Khao SoiCooking the curry for the Khao Soi

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. Khao Soi Curry Paste
  • 100g chicken breast/thigh – Cut into bite-sized pieces (vegetarian alternative: Tofu)
  • 1 tbsp. cooking oil
  • 250ml coconut milk
  • 100g egg noodles, blanched
  • 50g deep-fried egg noodles
  • 1 tsp. coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. spring onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. palm sugar
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce (vegetarian alternative: 1 tsp. salt)
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • Juice from a half lime
  • 2 tbsp. pickled cabbage

Preparation:

  1. In a skillet or a pan, over medium heat, combine cooking oil and curry paste. Stirring frequently.
  2. Add chicken, let simmer until no longer pink.
  3. Add coconut milk.
  4. Add palm sugar and fish sauce. Stir to combine and let simmer 5-10 minutes.
  5. Serve over the egg noodle and garnish with deep-fried egg noodles, coriander, spring onion, shallots, pickled cabbage, and a fresh slice of lime. Adding the Crispy Noodles to the Khao SoiBowl of Chicken Khao SoiKhao Soi

Pad ThaiPad Thai

Another tremendous Thai dish is the classic Pad Thai. When you are in Thailand, you can encounter all types of versions of this dish. The reassuring thing is that they are all delicious. This is a meal you can get from street food vendors, and it is quite entertaining to watch them make this super fast. I choose to make my pad Thai with Shrimp. But, you can also choose chicken or keep it vegetarian.

Fun Facts – Pad Thai is known to boost your digestive system. Palm sugar is a healthy alternative to refined sugar.

.Joy teaching us how to make Pad Thai

Pad Thai RecipePrep ingredients for Pad Thai

Ingredients:

  • 200g Rice Noodles (Soaked until tender, drain well)
  • 50g Chicken breast/thigh or any other meat of your choice, sliced
  • 20g firm Tofu, cubed
  • Egg
  • Water
  • Shallot or garlic, thinly sliced
  • Garlic chives
  • 50g Bean sprouts
  • Shredded Carrot
  • Cooking Oil
  • Dried Shrimp

Pad Thai Sauce:

  • 1 tsp. Palm sugar
  • 1 tsp. Fish Sauce. (vegetarian alternative: Soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp. Soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Oyster sauce (vegetarian option: Mushroom sauce)
  • 2 tbsp. Tamarind sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. Chili powderIngredients for Pad Thai

Preparation:

  1. Prepare Pad Thai sauce: Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and stir well until dissolved. Set aside.
  2. In a wok, heat the cooking oil over medium heat. Add sliced shallot/garlic and dried shrimp. Sautee until fragrant.
  3. Stir in meat and Tofu. Sautee until cooked through.
  4. Crack an egg and stir until almost cooked through.
  5. Make room on one side of the pan, add rice noodles, Pad Thai sauce, and water. Stir well to combine, and noodles are tender.
  6. Shortly before removing from heat, stir in fresh bean sprout, garlic, chives, and carrots.
  7. Serve your Pad Thai garnished with ground roasted peanut and a fresh slice of lime.Cooking Pad Thai in a WokFrying Pad Thai noodles in a Wok

Thai TeaDrinks at Grandmas cooking school

Your welcome drink is a choice of Thai Tea. Your options are Thai Lemon Tea, Thai Milk Tea, and Butterfly Pea Flower Tea. I chose the Thai Lemon Tea, which is nice and refreshing in the Thai hot and humid climate or after slaving over a hot stove for a few hours (evident by my photo below).

Thai Lemon Tea RecipeHeather with a cool drink after the Thai cooking class

Ingredients:

  • Thai red tea leaves
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • A mixture of juice from 1 lime slice, 1 tbsp. of sugar, and 1 cup of hot water
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 250ml hot water

Preparation:

  1. Brew the tea by pouring boiling water in a mug with the tea leaves in and let steep for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Strain the tea leaves with a strainer. Add fresh lime juice mixture and sugar. Stir until dissolved and well combined.
  3. Pour the brew into a glass with ice.

Mango with Sticky RiceMango and Sticky Rice

Mango with Sticky Rice is one of the most popular Thai desserts. You can often find street food vendors selling it in the night markets. We didn’t make this dessert, which was OK with us as we were tired of cooking all the other dishes. The Mango with Sticky Rice dessert is a sweet treat after all the spicy Thai food.

Fun Facts – Mango is the queen of the tropical fruit. Mango is known for its antioxidant properties for maintaining youthful skin. There are over 174 mango varieties in Thailand.

Mango with Sticky Rice Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 200g Steamed glutinous (Sticky) rice
  • 100g coconut cream
  • Sugar or Palm sugar (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 5 fresh pandan leaves
  • Fresh ripe mango
  • Deep-fried mung beans seeds or toasted sesame seeds

Preparation:

  1. In a medium-sized pot, bring coconut milk and pandan leaves to a simmer. Add salt and set 2 tbsp. of the mixture aside and allow it to cool.
  2. Add sugar and stir until dissolved.
  3. Add sticky rice to the mixture pot over low heat, stir well and let stand until the milk is absorbed.
  4. Remove from heat. Transfer the sticky rice to a bowl and cover with lid to keep warm.
  5. Arrange sticky rice on a serving plate, topped with nicely peeled and sliced mango.
  6. Sprinkle with mung beans/sesame seeds and top with 2 tbsp. of coconut cream.

SummaryGrandmas cooking school in Thailand

Learning how to cook traditional dishes while traveling is a fabulous experience. And the Thai dishes I made at Grandma’s Cooking School were delicious! Even if you can’t travel to Thailand to experience this adventure yourself, go ahead and try to make these dishes at home. I wrote out the recipes as they were given to me in Thailand which uses the Metric system. You might have to convert some of them if you aren’t use to that system. Let me know how it goes and how the dishes taste when you make them. I would love to see the photos of your completed meals in the comments. Happy Eating!

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Further Reading

If you are coming to Thailand for a visit, check out these posts for further travel inspiration:

15 Comments

  • Suruchi 28May2020 at 11:01 AM Reply

    I don’t like cooking much but after reading your post and seeing the colourful interesting pictures, I too want to do a Thai cooking course at Grandmas cooking school. The welcome drinks are so tempting. I love the overall feel of that place and yes it’s reasonable too.

    • Heather 28May2020 at 12:23 PM Reply

      I’m not a big fan of cooking as well. That is why I like taking these cooking classes when I’m traveling. I hope you get to take one some day.

  • Freya 24May2020 at 10:14 PM Reply

    I love the setting of the cooking school on an organic farm, it looks perfect. Tom Yum is one of my favourite soups. I think I might actually use your recipe to make some this week 🙂

    • Heather 24May2020 at 10:16 PM Reply

      Freya, You have to tell me how it turns out!

  • Kelly 24May2020 at 5:22 PM Reply

    This would be so much fun to do! I love how you met at the market to pick up the ingredients. Trying different foods is one of the best things about travel.

    • Heather 24May2020 at 5:27 PM Reply

      Thanks, Kelly! I totally agree with you about trying different foods when traveling.

    • Heather 24May2020 at 5:27 PM Reply

      Thanks, Kelly! I totally agree with you about trying different foods when traveling.

  • Kathleen 23May2020 at 10:10 AM Reply

    What a great experience to learn to cook some authentic Thai dishes you love. I love that you were given a tour of the market and the farm. Talk about knowing where your food comes from. That’s perfect. My daughter had a Thai boyfriend a long time ago and fell in love with the food. I will send her these recipes.

    • Heather 23May2020 at 2:34 PM Reply

      That is fantastic! Thank you, Kathleen. I hope she enjoys the memories and the food!

  • arv 23May2020 at 2:19 AM Reply

    I’m not surprised why Thai cooking classes are so popular. For many people from the rest of the world, Thai food is spicy. In comparison, to what they eat back home this seems like a great change. In a similar way, Indian and Mexican food is also spicy.

    • Heather 23May2020 at 2:32 PM Reply

      The good thing is that this class showed you how to make it less spicy or more depending on what you liked.

  • Kendra 22May2020 at 9:30 PM Reply

    YUM! This looks amazing. I like that you went through the market and the farm to really see where your ingredients came from. And the food-looks great!! I love Pad Thai, I can’t wait to try this recipe.

    • Heather 22May2020 at 9:38 PM Reply

      It was a great program from beginning to finish. Let me know how your Pad Thai turns out.

  • Jyoti 22May2020 at 10:12 AM Reply

    I love Thai food and what better way to learn than from a local at an organic farm!
    Do they offer vegan cooking classes?

    • Heather 22May2020 at 11:24 AM Reply

      I’m not sure. I know there is a vegetarian option.

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