After having such an amazing time at our cooking class in Cambodia, we were determined to do some more on this more extensive travelling expedition. Our two weeks in Myanmar was our first lengthy stop in South East Asia as we travelled here in early January, and when we pitched up for a few days in the beautiful laid back town on the edge of Inle Lake, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to take some time to do our cooking class in Myanmar.
Honestly, compared to Thai and Cambodian food, I really hadn’t been enjoying Burmese cuisine. Whilst Rob had tried lots of different dishes and loved all of them, I’d been plagued with stomach problems and ended up spending a lot of time eating steamed rice and vegetables in an effort to stop being ill. Another reason we opted for a cooking class in Myanmar was for me to try a wider variety of food in a ‘safe’ environment where it was less likely to make me ill.
Funny story – I was so ill that when we spent the morning of our cooking class in Inle Lake shopping in the local market, despite popping Imodium like they were skittles, I had to run to find a toilet at a nearby hotel at least twice. Highly embarrassing but that’s sometimes the reality of travel life, especially in Asia in my experience. Anyway, I decided to push on and hope my stomach improved and luckily i started to feel better before it was time to cook.
For our Myanmar cooking class we chose a company called Bamboo Delight. For just 20USD each we had a 1 hour tour of the local market to shop for ingredients, cooked one starter and one main per person and got transport back to our respective hotels after the lesson. The group sizes were slightly larger, I think there were around 8 of us, but the great thing with this class was that we all cooked different dishes and got to sit down and share them buffet style afterwards.
Another reason to choose these guys is that ‘Bamboo Sue’ the owner of the business is absolutely lovely and donates 15% of all proceeds back to the local community. She’s incredibly passionate about supporting people to have a successful and sustainable life and runs English teaching classes, has built up a library for local children to use and is currently working to establish a home Stay program to raise even more funds for the community. When you take a cooking class here you’ll even get a copy of her mini autobiography to take away with you which is a fascinating read and a great insight into life in Myanmar.
Back to the cooking class, when we arrived from our trip to the market we each picked a starter and main with 1 of 2 of us cooking each dish. The starters included everything from simple avocado and tomato salads, to traditional banana leaf salad to pork and vegetable dumplings. With us all cooking so many different things it was a little hectic so many of the ingredients were pre-prepared for us by Sue’s friendly team whilst we received guidance on how to cook them. Most of the starters were relatively simple and after around half an hour they had all been assembled and we were ready to move onto mains.
These were a great selection with enough variety to please everyone. We cooked: two versions of river fish curry, one mild and one spicy; chicken, lemongrass and coconut curry; pork with ginger and a potato and eggplant vegetarian curry which was medium hot. I picked the chicken curry which turned out to be really simple and only took around 20 minutes so I got to sit and chat and watch everyone else once done. Rob however had a bit of a mission on his hands with the river fish curry which was by far the most complex dish although it did taste incredible!
Whilst having that many people all assembling and cooking different dishes makes for a far busier and less relaxed environment in the kitchen, sitting down and sharing the dishes so we got to try all of them was a great part of the experience and probably our favourite feature of our cooking class in Myanmar. Sadly we didn’t get the recipes to take home but we were assured that if we popped Sue an email she would send us anything we needed. Overall the cooking class in Inle Lake was a great way to learn about and try more traditional dishes and we enjoyed all of the food we tried. Again we got a little bag of ingredients to take home with us that are currently stashed in our backpacks – hopefully they’ll survive the journey and make it back unscathed! There are loads of amazing things to do in Inle Lake, and cooking with Sue was one of our favourites without a doubt.