Once upon a time there was a chef called Duang. He lived in Bangkok, owned a restaurant and even had his own TV show. But he wasn’t happy. He wanted to escape the busy city life to the green hills of Northern Thailand. He settled in a picturesque little village called Tung Lakorn in Mae Taeng, one hour from Chiang Mai, and committed to make his best effort in Northern Thai cuisine for the monk of the village.

 
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Every traditional Thai village has its temple, wat, that has its own monks. Usually several, but in this tiny village there is only one monk living at the temple. He is the spiritual leader of the community. Buddhist monks rarely eat meat, so Duang, a vegetarian by heart, cooks excellent vegetarian meals for him – and for the travellers visiting Tung Lakorn.

”Our village is blessed with a good-hearted monk, that loves good company and good food. Here are some of his Northern vegetarian Thai food favourites” Duang tells us.

Here is your small dictionary to Northern Thai vegetarian dishes. If you want to taste them in the real setting, pick their ingredients from the back yard and purchase spices from the local farmer’s market, Duang and the monk welcome you warmly to visit Tung Lakorn.

Forget cooking courses,
learn it the real way

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Nam Prik Ong

Legendary northern Thai chilli dip dish revolves around tomatoes and minced pork, but for a vegetarian version the meat is substituted with tofu and mushroom. Eat Nam Prik Ong with sticky rice, vegetables and herbs.

Nam prik noom

Long green chillies, shallots and garlic, grilled until tender and fragrant, then mashed into a stringy and spicy paste seasoning with salt or light soy sauce. Served with steamed rice, parboiled veggies and an optional portion of protein, like tofu.

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Nam Prik Ong in the middle, Nam Prik Noom with boiled eggs.

Nam Prik Ong in the middle, Nam Prik Noom with boiled eggs.

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Gaeng Kare (Mixed Vegetables Curry)

Thailand is the heaven for curries, be it green, red or yellow. All of them can be made without meat, using fresh local vegetables, beans and tofu. Duang’s secret recipe is fresh made curry paste and a mix of various vegetables.

Khao Soi (Curry Noodles)

The most famous northern Thai dish combines wheat-and-egg noodles and a rich, fragrant curry broth. Add pickled vegetables and slices of shallot, season with a squeeze of lime and add ground chilies fried in oil. This is the best mixture of Indian and Chinese culture and very popular in the north of Thailand.

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Tum Ma Noon (Young Jackfruit Chilli Paste)

Jackfruit is an extremely good replacement of meat. Duang often prepares a paste of chilies and young jackfruit, to be eaten with young lime leaves.

Tum Ba Khuae (Eggplant Chilli Paste)

Grill eggplant, mash with chili paste and top with hairy basil. Stir fry with garlic to a mouth-watering dish full of flavour. It’s a good match with hard boiled egg.

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Gaeng Plee (Banana Flower Curry)

Banana flowers and stems can be magically turned into a delicious curry. The banana florets hidden in the flower’s layers must be suddenly cut and put into the  boiling curry the keep it still white to looks delicious. The taste of the curry is hot and full of aromatic from the ingredients.

Gaeng Noh (Bamboo Shoots Curry)

Bamboo shoots have a tough exterior that requires many layers of peeling before the aromatic and tender insides are revealed. Duang usually chops them into slices or small pieces, and cooks with chilies paste and some vegetables with good fragrant. (cooking pic. in the left hand corner)

Laab Jay

The famous Thai minced-meat 'salad' larb (or larp or laap) can be made all vegetarian by replacing the meat with some tofu. Duang makes it with chopped mushroom.


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Get the recipe of spicy mango salad (Som Tum Mamuang) to your email!

 
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If you are looking for a cooking course in Chiang Mai, just skip it and head to Tung Lakorn. Your tastebuds will thank you forever.

 

TEXT: IINA MERIKALLIO, PHOTOS: DUARA TRAVELS


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