Cooking Thai food with Silom Thai Cooking School in Bangkok was the last thing I was doing at the end of a long trip. If I would be honest, I just wanted to eat dinner and crash. I had done Thai cooking before, I was not sure how exciting it was going to be, as I am a vegetarian. I entered the Silom Cooking School in a very ambivalent mood.
The decor did impress me even though I was tired and in a sullen mood. The colors were bright ll around including that of our aprons. We met in a small room. Chef Oat asked about the vegetarian and I grudgingly raised my hand. We then went upstairs, donned our aprons and were ready to cook. We were a group of 10 people from all over Asia and beyond.
One of the opening remarks from Chef Oat was that as people asked for authentic Thai cooking experience we were going to do the cutting and grinding sitting on the ground. For me it was no problem!
The very first session was to identify some of the Thai herbs like lemon grass, galangal (which looks like ginger) Kaffir Lime, peppers and a few more. We were going to cook Tom Yum soup, corn cake (fish cake for non-vegetarians which was pretty much everyone else) Phad Thai Noodles, red curry and Mango Sticky Rice. I perked up a little at the thought of Mango Sticky Rice, my favorite dessert from Thailand.
I quite liked Chef Oat’s style of teaching cooking. He would make fun of a lot of things. He pretended that he was scared we would set the school on fire! He would tell us only tourists make all the pastes, Thai people buy them from Seven-Eleven! If I have to cook, I would happily do it to this tune!
As the chef would give us all the ingredients in exact proportions it was a breeze to cook all the dishes, even for me. For I am someone who can set a kitchen on fire, literally! But I took heart that the person cooking next to me didn’t even know how to break an egg! He copied me, me of all people! We were only at soup and here I was, warming up to the evening.
I forgot my tiredness started to get into the grove. We would make a dish, put it in a serving dish and go eat it and then come back and cook another dish! It was fun. I told Chef Oat that I did another cooking class where they had TV and a lot of jazz. He responded wisely, “yes there are schools which do it chef style, but we teach as if we are teaching a friend. ” I would for sure say go to the friendly style school unless you wish to become a chef. He also remarked, “people come and want to become an expert in three hours, it took me ten years to reach this level.” He thanked us for not dropping the egg on the floor when we cracked it open!
I made my soup quite hot for me! So I made my Phad Thai noodle with less chili and enjoyed it to the last noodle. Making the red curry paste was a community affair where everyone pounded the spices to past. Chef Oat remarked at the spice arrangement which looked amazing, “now who arranges spices like this at home?”
We had rice with red curry and then I devoured the mango sticky rice! I was now left wondering why I was so sullen at the beginning of the cooking session. I suspect that my cheerfulness was in a large measure due to the wonderful Chef Oats and my fellow travelers.
They were so upbeat about it that their enthusiasm rubbed off me too, in copious quantities. I would highly recommend Silom Thai Cooking School in Bangkok if wish to learn Thai cooking in a home style, friendly environment.
PS. My trip to Thailand was sponsored by Tourism Authority of Thailand.
When I saw a Thai Cooking class on my itinerary before heading to Bangkok, I really did not pay much attention. After all, before I leave there are thousand other things that clamor for my attention. However, I was really uneasy when I realized on day two at Bangkok, that I was staring at my doom.
It is not that I never cook, but let us put it this way, cooking is not my forte. I don’t think my daughter will miss mummy ke hath ka khana (mom’s food) when she has grown up! Why did I not try to wriggle out? I was traveling alone with the Director of TAT New Delhi, Runjuan Tongrut, how could I say to her I was really scared about going into a cooking class!
So, with a heavy heart, I headed to the class at the Blue Elephant Cooking School, Bangkok. It is a school established by the famous chef Nooror Somany Steppe. Next time when you shop for Thai curry and other stuff at the Suvarnabhumi airport do notice that a lot of the stock is from the Blue Elephant brand.
I filled a form before the class in which I declared myself a vegetarian. The more I travel, the more it hits me that you become the odd person when you are a vegetarian. In our group of 7, I was the only vegetarian.
We tried at least 5 to 6 recipes and all I can say is that I managed not to set the place on fire! I actually did alright as they would cut the ingredients and put them ready for us. All I would need to do is to pound it, mix it and follow the recipe.
But let me elaborate. The classes went like this. All of us would assemble in the demo room where the master chef would demonstrate the recipes. As all the dishes were meat based they substituted it with tofu or mushroom for me. Then we would go into the cooking room and try it out ourselves. Here we had chef’s assistants monitoring the room and help was ready at hand.
I was surprised to see that Thai cooking involves lemon leaf as a flavoring ingredient. We also have so much of lemon and lemon leaf but I am not sure that we use it as a flavor in our dishes. And even though we do use coriander leafs for seasoning in Thai cooking they use the roots too! I also realized that the colors came for the seasoning. For example green curry had a lot of green bell peppers in it!
The stuff you make, you can sit down and eat as well. I had no time so I out it all as a take away. But my dinner was at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit so I gave away the food to the driver of the van. I met him again after coming back from Krabi but I am so unsure of my cooking that I didn’t dare to ask how was the food that day!
Now that I have survived the scare, I wonder why was I so scared in the beginning! If I ever do it again, I hope I would have time to sit down and eat what I cooked rather than giving it away to someone unsuspecting.
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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