A taste of Northern Thailand
Chiang Mai and the Northern Thailand is a melting pot of culture and crafts from many eras and ethnic groups.
The history, culture, climate, geography and migration patterns have all had their role in influencing the unique taste of Northern Thai food.
Northern Cuisine or ‘Lanna cuisine’ is consistent with raw materials and civilization of Burma, China, Laos and Central Thailand, mixed with the borrowings from other cultures, making Lanna food distinctly different from Southern Thai cuisine. Due to the cooler, mountainous climate, the food is often fattier, to promote better body warmth. Fish from the local rivers used to dominate northern Thai cuisine, but over the years that has been replaced with pork and chicken.
The tastes of Lanna food are typically mellow with three main flavors present: spicy, salty and sour, with not much preference for the sweet taste. Northern Thai dishes are traditionally cautious about having too strong a flavor and they do not consume fermented and pickled food or not take raw meat. Northern food is always accompanied by sticky rice, which locals refer to as khao neow.
Lanna cuisine is renowned as an absolute gem for food lovers the world over and there are so many amazing flavours that could be shared here from this region, however after much deliberation, below are four of the most famous Northern Thai dishes.
The dish made its way to Thailand with Chinese Yunnanese Muslims traders on their way to Myanmar. khao soi is one of the most famous Northern Thai dishes. A noodle soup made with a rich and spicy coconut curry and served with chicken or beef and recently vegetarian options and two types of yellow noodles. It's fragrant broth is rich with the perfect balance between spicy, sour and sweet.
Gaeng Hang Lay
Basically translates as "heavy Curry" the flavour of the dish is similar to that of the massaman curry, you would find in Southern Thailand, without the coconut milk.
The rich flavors of this curry are salty, sour and mildly spicy, the galangal adds a zing and the tamarind brings a slight sour.
A slow cooked curry, traditionally of pork (usually belly and shoulder).
Nam phrik kha
There are many different variations on 'nam phrick' (Chili dips) in northern Thailand, it is considered a main dish of Lanna people and it typically consumed every day and is found on almost every northern Thai dinner table.
The sauce style dish is normally served on small saucers placed by the main dish as a condiment or dip for raw or boiled greens, fish, poultry and meat and vary in texture from a liquid to a paste to an almost dry, granular, or powdery consistency.
Traditionally this dish of spicy sausages were prepared in this manner as a way of preserving food for a couple of days.
These fragrant sausages are infused with a wonderful blend of pork and intestines, thai spices and herbs like lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal and then grilled to perfection.