Learn to cook Thai style
On a bank of the tiny Sanam Chai canal that cuts into the Chao Phraya River, in Bangkok, a Thai family house has been converted into the Amita Thai Cooking School.
It is an example of how families are getting involved in tourism offering a genuine experience. In this case, the focus is on teaching visitors how to cook genuine Thai food dishes.
No.5_inside_1Like any fledging enterprise, the challenge is to gain the attention of tour operators to include it as a lifestyle activity alongside standard tour options.
To maintain a traditional atmosphere, the kitchen is a wooden structure, open air, and decorated with antiques from the family's collection.
There are 10 individual cooking stations equipped with utensils for each student to cook their own dishes. The course lasts three hours and gives tuition on preparing four dishes that are served for lunch, at the close of the class.
During a typical week, the school rotates three menu sets that feature a mix of savoury and sweet dishes.
1. Satay, chicken green curry, coconut rice with spicy papaya salad and banana in coconut milk.
2. Thai stir-fried noodles, chicken in galangal and coconut milk soup, stirred fried chicken with cashew nuts and pink water chestnut dumpling in syrup and coconut milk.
3. Deep fried chicken wrapped in pandanus leaves, prawn hot and sour soup, stir fried pork with holy basil and coconut pancakes.
No.5 Inside_2Students transfer from their hotels to the Maharaj Pier near the Grand Palace where they board a private boat to the school. Transfer included in the tuition fee.
Before going to the kitchen, instructors explain the herbal garden identifying plants and leaves that are used in cooking.
Hands-on tuition starts with an instructor demonstrating cooking techniques and showing them the ingredient measures required for each dish. Then it's the students' turn to cook with the instructors guiding them through the process step-by-step.
If a curry is on the menu, students will have to pound ingredients into a paste, although all the ingredients used for cooking were pre-prepared, earlier in the morning to speed up the tuition.
No.5_Inside_3One interesting technique shows students how to make coconut milk from scratch using a traditional Thai coconut grater, while another shows them how to make flour from rice grains using a stone mill. The rice flour is then used to make Kha Nom Krok or rice pancakes.