Bon Voyage to Bon Appétit 

A cooking class with a native chef in Thailand is an immersive experience in gastronomy

author_img Shibani Bawa Published :  23rd October 2022 01:34 PM   |   Published :   |  23rd October 2022 01:34 PM
A cooking class can also be a gateway to appreciating unique aspects of a culture

A cooking class can also be a gateway to appreciating unique aspects of a culture

In the popular 2022 Netflix film, That’s Amor, the protagonist Sofia falls in love with life and
gets her mojo back after a four-weekend cooking class with Spanish chef Isaac. Reality shows, novels and even documentaries are all making cooking classes as cool as salsa. With local chefs dishing their best, culinary travel is a trend worth travelling the world for.

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At Pimalai Resort & Spa, Koh Lanta, Thailand, the cooking class starts at the source. Chef Peng meets the ‘students’ at the organic garden, where one starts by picking various herbs for the dishes. Nestled within 100 acres of tropical jungle in Kantiang Bay, the organic kitchen garden sees seasonal, local produce such as Thai holy basil, lemongrass and galangal in abundance. While sharing the use of each and highlighting their distinct aroma, the chef also introduces the guests to lesser-known ingredients such as blue butterfly pea and betel leaf (different from the Indian one), explaining how subtle aromatic differences between lime, lemon and lemongrass add layers to a dish.

The cooking station is set at the resort’s buzzing all-day dining, Seven Seas restaurant, which offers the most gorgeous view of the ocean on one side and the lush hills on the other. During the class, the restaurant turns into a private sanctuary. On the menu are tom yum soup, Thai red curry chicken and pad thai noodles—predictable favourites that Indians love to cook back home. The chef’s insights on how to hold the wok right or use spatula with the correct hand movement can be an eye-opener for newbies. Many of these tips and tricks can never be found in any cookbook. For instance, cooking the Thai curry paste with a splash of coconut milk makes the curry creamier and negates the use of additional cooking oil to add that touch of authenticity to the dish.

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A cooking class can also be a gateway to appreciating unique aspects of a culture. A warm welcome in a Thai household starts with a betel leaf wrap called ‘miang kham’. This one-bite wrap is akin to the Indian paan, but is savoury and offers the taste of Thailand in a single bite. Take a fresh betel leaf in one hand and fold it once across the bottom then sideways to form a pocket. Place about one teaspoon of roasted coconut in the leaf together with a few roasted peanuts, dried shrimp, fresh ginger, small bits of lime and top it off with a delicious sweet and tangy sauce to create a bite-sized wrap. It’s delicious and also whets the appetite.