Recipe for Khao Soi - the taste of Northern Thailand

For a fun history lesson on Northern Thailand, simply sit down and enjoy a meal. The complex fusion of flavours, aromas and techniques is a perfect reflection of its past, an area once ruled by warring empires.

The cuisine of Northern Thailand is a melting pot of different cultures, thanks to sharing a border with both Myanmar and Laos. Many of its culinary elements are also strongly influenced by Burma and China.

Curries here are a lot milder, and a shortage of coconut milk and seafood keeps the emphasis on richer flavours and fresh herbs. Northern Thai cuisine also favours sticky, glutinous rice known as kaao niao.

Khao Soi is the signature dish of Chiang Mai, in the northwestern part of Thailand. It consists of a rich broth, filled with chicken, soft thin noodles and topped with crunchy Chinese egg noodles that you crush into the soup.

This dish shows the influence of the Yunnan traders from southern China and is the perfect balance of sweet, sour and spice. Although coconut cream is not common on Northern Thai dishes, it really gives this one a lovely creamy finish.

Although it's not difficult to prepare, it's best to have everything prepared before you start.


  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 300g chicken breast, chopped
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 1 -1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbspt Thai red curry paste
  • 1/2 tsp palm sugar
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • Fish sauce, to taste (enough to make it salty to taste)


  • 200g flat or round egg noodles (suggest Thai "bah-mee" egg noodles or Chinese mien)
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, very thinly sliced
  • Fresh coriander, chopped
  • Fried shallot flakes
  • Dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 lime (or more), cut into 4 wedges


  • In a heavy pan, heat oil then add garlic. Stir until golden brown
  • Add curry paste, curry powder and turmeric powder. Stir continuously until fragrant (about one minute, be careful not to burn)
  • Pour in 200ml of the coconut milk and gently simmer until the oil starts to show
  • Add another 100ml of the coconut milk and gently simmer again until the oil starts to show
  • Add chicken, chicken stock and rest of the coconut milk. Stir and gently simmer for 2 minutes
  • Add fish sauce and brown sugar. Continue simmering for about 10-15 minutes
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil
  • Add noodles to the boiling water and cook. Drain and rinse with cold water. Pat dry a handful of noodles (the dish uses both friend and wet noodles)
  • Pour oil into a pan (2 inches/5cm deep) and heat. Add handful of cooked noodles and fry until crisp
  • Remove from pan and drain on absorbent paper
  • In each serving bowl, add some of the wet noodles. Pour over the chicken curry. Add some fried noodles then top with the green onions, shallots, coriander, fried shallot, chilli flakes
  • Finish with a wedge of lime on top

Got your tastebuds tingling? Enjoy the taste of Northern Thai cuisine thanks to our new 10-day Thailand Master Cooking Tour. Try your hand at a master class or two, and pick up some handy tips for your kitchen at home. This exciting new tour is set against a stunning backdrop, and you'll soon fall in love with more than just the food.

View all our trips to Thailand or check out a brochure online.

(Recipe source:, Image source: Sifu Renka)


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