We do offer gluten free cooking classes! Lately, our in person class in Bangkok has had a lot of inquiries from people who want to learn how to make delicious, gluten free Thai food. As many of those guests have found, we’re ready to talk with you in detail about Thai ingredients, recipes, and food culture that make it possible to enjoy even with strict dietary restrictions.
Thinking Healthier Post Pandemic
The pandemic has made us all a little more health conscious. We’ve used the down time to reformat our classes and our cooking space. First off, we’ve converted our main cooking class to a plant based format. This means most of the ingredients we use in each cooking session are vegetarian or vegan. Also like a lot of people looking to destress over the past few years, we’ve expanded our garden space. So much so, that our guests often remark that it looks like a jungle! Our little urban jungle is full of edible plants that are local and less well known by newcomers to Thai food such as pandan, long pepper, and wild betel leaves. It isn’t a coincidence that these two things go together, as we teach we encourage others to be more mindful about what’s on our plates, where it comes from, and how it impacts our personal health, and the health of our local environments.
Gluten Free Thai Food
Going plant based helps us accommodate people interested in gluten free cooking, or who have other dietary requests and restrictions. But helping people who may struggle to find classes in Bangkok that can accommodate them also gives us an opportunity to highlight the versatility of Thai cuisine and ingredients. For example, there are many great dishes that rely on gluten free staples such as rice noodles. This means with the exception of some of the sauces included, dishes such as pad thai and pad see ew already lend themselves well to gluten free cooking!
This is good news for everyone, whether they may be avoiding wheat due to a serious allergy, or a dietary preference. We would love to encourage you that, although you have to be persistent about asking about ingredients, there are still plenty of things to safely feast on and cook in Thailand. Since wheat only began making appearances in Thai dishes fairly recently, much of local, traditional Thai food may already be gluten free. Out tip? Be careful to ask about the sauces used to season food, which may contain wheat. You can always prepare a short script to explain your diet before your trip and have it translated. We’ve even seen some travelers bringing their own gluten free seasoning to restaurants!
If you’ve got a question about booking a class, please use our contact page to reach out to us. As always, thank you for your support!
Sign up for a virtual cooking class with Courageous Kitchen, and choose the Thai dish you would like to learn! With our in-person classes going fully virtual over the past year, we try to recreate the fun interaction you would have when you learn with us in Bangkok. To make this possible, we’re always looking for ways to improve the classes we teach over zoom. With the hope of getting our students engaged early on, we’re having them select the dishes they would most like to learn, and we’re now offering more recipes than ever!
Each class is roughly an hour long session. In that time guests are challenged to learn about Thai ingredients and cooking culture, cook dinner, and have fun getting to know each other. That’s a lot to do in an hour, but we’re up for the challenge and want to make sure you’re as prepared as possible before class starts. Since Thai ingredients can be unfamiliar to newcomers and hard to find, we have combined each session with complimentary access to our online learning platform. On the platform class participants can read a brief background on ingredients they’ll be shopping for before the zoom call, and everyone will retain access to the materials after the course. That way long after your tom yum or pad thai cooking session ends, you’ll have the info and confidence to try the other recipes we’ve included on your own.
Public Class Choices
Private Class Choices
Noodles: Pad See Ew Curries: Green Curry, Penang Curry Soups: Tom Yum, Tom Kha Stir Fries: Pad Krapow (Thai Basil), Green Curry Fried Rice
All Public Class Options and also: + Massaman Curry + Pad Thai + Papaya Salad + Drunken Noodles + Homemade Curry Paste + Thai Cocktails + or the Dish of Your Choice
Be the first to book our public class sessions, or a private class to choose one of the dishes above.
For our most requested recipes, we’ve also included downloadable shopping cards. Simply load them on to your smart phone or other device before you head out for groceries. There are illustrated reminders of the core ingredients and utensils, to make sure you don’t miss anything crucial to the recipe. For example, what if you can’t find palm sugar or have never used it before? We want to make sure you know what it is, how to use this natural sugar, and what can be used as a substitution.
What’s the difference between public and private classes?
In pubic classes we host students who book separately. In this type of group class, the participants may not know each other, but after brief introductions we become rallied around the same tasty effort. While everyone can’t choose the recipes in public classes, typically we give this choice to the person who’s first to book the session. During holidays and popular times, the class size can grow larger ten students, and the recipes are typically easier than what we might attempt in a private class.
Private classes can only be accessed by the party first to book. While we host large private classes for corporate events, typically our private classes are made up of families cooking together. If booked in advance, guests in these classes can choose from a larger list of recipes than available to public class students, or can request a custom recipe.
Can I book your class for a special occasion?
A custom cooking class can be especially fun when guests are booking for birthdays, anniversaries, or other special occasions. If the birthday guest of honor has a favorite Thai dish, then we would love to teach them how to make it as part of your celebration. For example, we’ve hosted a dad who’s favorite dish was tom kha soup, and had fun teaching him how to make a version just like the one he enjoys at his local Thai restaurants. We’ve had calls with families dispersed all over the world, but who have come together to cook our version of pad see ew noodles, green curry, or pad thai. We’re happy to help celebrate a special occasion or learning session with you, and most recently have been included in fun activities for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
What if I’m unsure which Thai recipe is best for me?
We believe giving you some say in what you would like to cook makes the class more fun, while increasing the chances you’ll put the cooking skills you learn to good use. We love to hear back from families who’ve added Thai noodles, soups, and stir fries to their regular dinner rotation. However, we know that there are times when you can have too many choices. Usually your cooking ability and the ingredients you have access to are the best guides for helping you choose. For example, if you’re a kitchen novice that will be cooking rice noodles for the first time, then attempting pad thai may be too much of a challenge. This doesn’t mean you have to abandon your love of noodles, but a recipe like pad see ew noodles, would be a better starting point.
We hope to offer intermediate and advanced cooks plenty of choice too. This is most often guests who’ve spent time in Thailand and can’t shake a craving they have from the experience. We can help you relive a magic street food experience or help you journey here with your tastebuds even while most flights are still grounded. Haven’t been able to recreate the amazing massaman curry, cashew chicken, or other dish that made your trip to Thailand special? Let us know and we’ll arrange a custom class for you.
Finally, like our in person classes did previously, our virtual cooking classes are also necessary to help us continue to provide food relief to hundreds of families struggling as a result of the pandemic. We’re proud our class is recognized as an official social impact experience on Airbnb, and believe we can keep making a difference by sharing our love of Thai food with more people. Please sign up to join us, share our class with someone who loves Thai food, or visit our food relief donation page to make a contribution.
Good news for our cooking class students, we’re upgrading our most popular recipes with new, downloadable cards to help you prepare to cook with us. Each of the cards features fun illustrations from a local Thai artist, aimed at helping you remember exactly which ingredients you need to buy. This means shopping for your favorite Thai meals like pad see ew noodles, green curry, and tom yum soup is now even easier. You’ll be able to jump into our virtual cooking classes, hosted on zoom, knowing you’re fully prepared with all of your ingredients.
We know shopping for ingredients can be intimidating. In some stores even the aisle for soy sauce and fish sauce can seem endless and overwhelming. To complicate matters, some people may be dependent on online deliveries during the pandemic and need to make sure they’re purchasing the correct ingredients. We hope the recipe cards will make this process easier, helping you find the right ingredients for tasty renditions of your favorite Thai foods.
You can find the recipe cards in our virtual courses, like our Thai Cooking Class Starter Kit, with lots of supplementary info on ingredients. For example, a key ingredient for our Pad Thai recipe is tamarind. However, the tamarind you find in the stores comes in many formats, and we have had guests purchase sweet tamarind, instead of the sour tamarind pulp needed. The information we provide in the virtual courses (which are smartphone responsive for access on the go) and the downloadable shopping cards for the recipes should help prevent these mistakes.
If you don’t already have access to a virtual course, you can purchase it, or receive access when you sign up for a zoom cooking course through Airbnb. In addition to these recipes we do take other requests in our private classes. If you’re planning a large cooking session or corporate learning activity, we would be happy to help.
As these course choices become more popular we will continue to add more recipe cards to new dishes and do our best to help you navigate cooking your favorite Thai dishes.
Credit: Special thanks to graphic designer Yui for all of her hard work helping to beautifully illustrate so many of these Thai ingredients!
Here’s a quick update to everyone who has been supporting Courageous Kitchen, especially if you’ve been interested in attending one of our virtual classes. The live zoom classes we offer are booked through Airbnb and we’ve made some important changes to our prices. Most significantly, we now offer a discount on our group bookings and have a special price for kids!
In addition to helping you find a place to stay when traveling, Airbnb offers travel related activities too. Through the Airbnb Experiences program, when booking travel to Thailand, you may also see a recommendation for a Thai cooking class like ours. Well, with much of international travel on pause we’re fortunate to share that these classes are still happening virtually.
From the safety of home you can still experience a bit of Thai culture with the help of video technology and your taste buds. Our experience offers guests the chance to join on us zoom to make pad see ew noodles, green curry, or tom kha soup. However for larger private groups we offer discounts and the chance to customize the menu to your Thai favorites.
Zoom Cooking Class Perks:
Live HD Instruction with Two Cameras
Supplementary Course Materials to Help with Substitutions and Shopping for Ingredients
Discounts for Groups
Access to 10 of Thailand’s Top Recipes
Special Pricing for Kids (Kids Recipes Coming Soon)
Thai Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes Also Available
Recently Airbnb has also introduced pricing for children. This means you can get the whole family in the kitchen working on Thai food together. In the past, the per person pricing has led to a lot of confusion about how to work with families with children under 13. Hopefully, the new cheaper pricing takes some pressure off of parents and is a chance to get your young cooks enthused about diverse types of food and cultures.
Finally, don’t forget all bookings include access to one of our virtual courses. Currently, we offer either Thailand’s Top Recipes and Thailand’s Top Vegetarian Recipes to all students. Both of the courses are supplementary to our live zoom classes and leave participants with some extra recipes to try on their own. There are currently about 10 recipes featured, including favorites such as pad see ew noodles, green curry, and tom yum soup. However, we’re adding a recipe for our kid’s version of pad thai and will have other easy recipes for young chefs in the future.
Thank you for your continued support. We’re fortunate to able to continue connecting with people and fundraising for those in need virtually. Airbnb has also recognized this virtual experience as an official Social Impact activity, so all proceeds from course will go back to Courageous Kitchen. We hope that’s more than enough reasons to join us in cooking class session soon!
Today we’d like to present a tasty caveat in favor of annunciating EVERY consonant. We believe after cooking the massaman recipe below with chicken thighs, you too will be convinced that THIGH-land is the correct pronunciation. Let’s end this debate at the dinner table!
Thai Muslim food has a rich tradition that has been used to help popularize Thai curries all over the world. If you’ve heard the names of ‘massaman‘ or ‘khao soi‘ curries, they are great examples of this unique and too often overlooked subculture of Thai cuisine. Thai Muslim culinary heritage usually demands red meat stewed for long periods to become tender, fragrant, and extend the shelf life of the resulting curry. However, dark meat cuts of chicken make a great substitution in these curries and allow us to shorten the cooking time.
This recipe walks the line between full-flavored tradition and not spending hours in the kitchen. The key to saving time is getting ahead on your prep. This means adding the extra strep of blanching your potatoes, shortening the time it takes to cook them in your curry later.
Finding a great premade curry paste will also be a big step in saving you time. Making this delicious curry paste on your own is definitely worth it, but be prepared to add at least an hour of prep time. For example, when we’re teaching our guests to make massaman, we’ll make some paste the day before to be sure there’s plenty in case the timing is tight with our cooking classes.
May this recipe for massaman curry end all debates about Thigh-land! Be sure to check the FAQ below the recipe for answers to your most common questions as well.
Serves: 3-5 people
Equipment: pot or large wok with lid
Prep & Cooking Time: 1 hour
500g of chicken thighs, deboned 1 liter coconut milk 2 cups chicken stock 2 tbsp of massaman curry paste 5 tbsp cooking oil (we used coconut) 2 potatoes, peeled, parboiled and chopped into 4-5cm chunks 1/2 cup of roasted and ground unsalted peanuts (for garnish)
Seasoning (to taste) 3 tbsp of tamarind juice 3 tbsp of palm sugar 1 tsp of salt
Optional Dry Spices 2 bay leaves 4 green cardamom pods 1 cinnamon stick
1) Start by blanching your peeled potatoes in boiling water for 3-4 minutes. 2) Add coconut oil to your wok over medium heat. 3) When your oil is hot, place your chicken thighs in the oil (4 tbsp), skin side down. 4) Allow the skin to become golden and crisp on the edges, then flip and repeat for the other side. 5) Remove the chicken, set aside, and add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil to your wok. Fry your curry paste until fragrant. When ready add 1 cup of coconut milk to keep your paste from burning.
6) Add potatoes, and chicken thighs. Then pour in your chicken stock and half of the remaining coconut milk. 7) Cover for 20 minutes, gradually adding more coconut milk to keep the curry from getting too dry. Remember to check the potatoes occasionally, using a fork to see if they have become soft. 8) When your vegetables are fork tender, season with tamarind, salt, and palm sugar to taste. 9) Stir in a few dry spices (optional) and turn off the heat. 10) Before serving, garnish with ground peanuts. (optional)
What is the origin of massaman curry?
The word massaman is an older Thai word meaning Muslim. The curry was brought to Thailand by Muslim traders from neighboring countries and solidified in Thai history when introduced to the Thai palace by Persian dignitaries. Modern versions have adapted to tone down the strength of the spices used, sweeten the dish, and shorten the cooking time. However, to find the most historically representative recipes, we should look to modern Thai Muslim communities in Thailand today.
What’s the most delicious massaman curry you’ve had?
The best massaman curry is the one that is slow-cooked. People often forget that this dish was created as more of a stew than the modern stir fry-esque curries that dominate Thai cuisine. When jumbo pots of massaman are allowed to simmer overnight, you awake to a smell that takes over the house and makes for some of the most memorable celebration meals in Thai muslim culture.
How should good massaman curry taste?
Good massaman curry is denoted by mature curry paste flavor and smell, and a rich bouquet of spices. The roasted curry and spice should be complimented by a light sourness. This is why you don’t get the same result using citrus juice to replace the tamarind in the recipe.
Most modern Thai recipes call for fish sauce and fermented shrimp paste. This is not required and the salty flavors should not dominate the taste of your curry paste. Sweetness as well as a hint of chili should be present in the dish but don’t worry, it’s not overwhelmingly spicy!
Frying the paste and the long stewing time means many of your soft aromatics like shallots, garlic, and lemongrass should have an opportunity to meld together. When you taste the finished curry, you should not be able to identify these individual aromatics in the flavor.
Why is my massaman dark brown?
Don’t be alarmed if your vibrant colored curry goes auburn brown by the time you’re ready to serve it. This is especially common with longer stewing times. As the coconut milk reduces (especially if you pot or wok is uncovered), and seasoning is added, the color deepens. Whatever the color, your massaman should be delicious!
Note the color may vary depending on the brand of curry paste you use as well. Find a massaman paste you like and you can use it in all sorts of ways. For example, add your extra paste to spice up your next crockpot roast, chili, or pulled pork dish. You can also turn raw jackfruit into vegan pulled pork sandwiches. The canned jackfruit you bought is likely from South Asia, so why not dress it up with those same flavors by adding massaman to your bbq sauce?
Why do you fry the chicken before making the massaman?
This is similar to the technique you see being used with steaks, where chefs will pan sear them before putting them in the over on other cooking method. In this case the chicken is poached in our curry which is great for slow cooking the chicken internally, but not so great for the outside texture. When you fry the skin you add a bit of texture and umami flavor, then borrow the fried bits on your pan back, deglazing our wok as we fry the curry paste in the same oil. Texture added and no flavor wasted!
Would you recommend chicken thighs for cooking khao soi as well?
Yes! If you want all the flavor that stewing can impart, avoid drier cuts of meat like chicken breast. In my opinion, squishy and rubbery chicken breast is one of the Thai food faux pas that separate average cooks from well-practiced enthusiasts.
Join Courageous Kitchen on team dark meat! Chicken thighs are a great way to upgrade so many Thai recipes, especially curries. This includes famous dishes like khao soi but can work well with your green and red curries as well.
What if I want to make a vegetarian massaman curry?
Go for it! Simply subtract the chicken thighs and sub in vegetable stock instead. You can double up on veggies to add some volume to your curry. This can vary depending on what you have access to, but we love adding pumpkin, sweet potato, and even butternut squash.
With the stress of cooking animal proteins out of the way, take the opportunity to pay extra attention to how your hearty vegetables cook. One common mistake with softer vegetables, like sweet potatoes for example, is the temptation to try and cook them the same amount of time. If you do, don’t be surprised when your curry starts to look like mashed potato mush!
We hope you enjoyed this brief history lesson on one of Thailand’s most beloved dishes. Don’t forget to share your recipe remakes on social media and follow us on Instagram for more updates!
Often overlooked because of the delicious sweet potatoes themselves, the leaves of the sweet potato plant are nourishing as well. Sweet potatoes grow in the soil unseen, but above them is where all of the action is happening. Given enough space sweet potato vines are prolific. They will act as ground cover, stretching across your yard, and when given the opportunity to climb, will grab hold of nearby plants, posts, and fences. With plenty of sun provided, the heart shaped leaves stay ever stretching to find new opportunities to sun bathe.
Any gardeners reading are likely to join in our enthusiasm for these tasty leaves. The same can’t be said of regular potato leaves which can be toxic. Pumpkin, squash and other gourds have leafy vines, but the leaves have a sticky layer on them that needs to be peeled. Then there’s the incredibly popular cruciferous greens like kale which are well known, but sweet potato leaves are seldom as bitter, often being neutral tasting. This means they’re also good for introducing more green into the diet of young people as well.
A few ideas for cooking sweet potato include having them raw in a salad, or as an addition to a green smoothie. When harvesting them for a salad, look for the tender young leaves, often a deeper color than the larger leaves. For stews, stir frys, and any heavier cooking, the larger leaves hold up well. We use the beautiful new leaves as a colorful and tender garnish on top of other dishes as well. These leaves appear darker in color and more waxy looking, but lose this sheen as they grow larger.
Today we want to share a bowl of simple, sweet potato soup. The recipe is versatile, allowing for lots of variations. Feel free to make it your own, using different vegetables and locally grown herbs if needed. The point is for the soup to be a vehicle for nutrition, and a champion for biodiversity. The flavor comes from the combination of soft and hard aromatics in the recipe, basil leaves and lemongrass, and should only be mildly sweet with an optional touch of heat from fresh chili. Enjoy the recipe below with a heap of sweet potato leaves, and any other nearby and nutritious ingredients you have to add.
Serves: 4-6 people
Equipment: mortar and pestle, pot
Prep & Cooking Time: 30 minutes
1L water or stock 500g sweet potato leaves 500g winter melon (substitute another soft gourd like zucchini if needed) 1 angled gourd, sliced 1 carrot, sliced 5 lemongrass stalks, smashed 6 shallots, smashed 4 coriander roots, smashed 3-4 fresh Thai chili (substitute with mild chili or bell pepper if desired) 1 tbsp of palm sugar 1 cup of soy sauce 1 tsp of salt 1 tsp of black soy sauce 1 bunch of lemon basil (or other sweet tasting herb leaf, like Italian basil)
1) Prep all your ingredients, washing and peeling as neccesary. Before you start cooking, consider which vegetables you’re adding that may need more time than others to cook. 2) Pound your shallots, coriander root, and lemongrass in a mortar and pestle. Or bruise with a heavy object. 3) Add water to your pot with these three aromatics (shallot, lemongrass, and coriander root) and bring to a boil. 4) When the soup is fragrant and lightly boiling, add any tough vegetables like carrot, followed later by soft veg like winter melon and angled gourd. Cook until soft. 5) Adjust your heat to low and season by adding your palm sugar, soy sauce, black soy sauce, and salt. Taste and adjust as needed. 6) Turn off the heat and add your fresh handful of lemon basil. 7) When serving remember to avoid adding lemongrass into your serving bowl. You can remove it completely, but leaving it in the soup will allow it to continue to add flavor to the broth.
This recipe is suitable for a large family of 5-6 people and may put a big dent in your garden. Don’t worry though, the sweet potato plants are resilient, and can survive your pruning and nibbling. Do let us know if you loved this recipe by donating to our charitable work, or signing up for one of our online classes. Then check back soon for more updates and recipes!