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11 Lanna Dishes You Should Try

11 Lanna Dishes You Should Try

If you’re a foodie looking for new and exciting dishes, look no further than Lanna cuisine. Lanna, the ancient kingdom in Northern Thailand, has its own unique flavors and cooking techniques that have been passed down for generations.

Experience the vibrant flavors of Northern Thailand with these 11 must-try Lanna dishes: Khao Soi, Kaeng Hungley, Sai Oua, Nam Phrik Ong, Nam Phrik Num, Khanom Jeen Nam Ngiew, Kaeng Ho, Kaeng Khanun, Naem Moo, Larb Kua, and Tam Khanun. Each offers a unique culinary adventure.

1. Khao Soi

Experience the rich flavors of the Lanna region with our number one pick, Khao Soi. This beloved dish is a delightful blend of textures and tastes. It features a creamy, mild yellow curry base enriched with coconut, poured over soft egg noodles and your choice of chicken, pork, or beef. But the magic doesn’t stop there.

What sets Khao Soi apart is the topping of crisp egg noodles, creating an irresistible contrast. Served with lime, shallots, pickled mustard greens, and chili on the side, you can customize the flavors to your liking. Each bite is a new surprise—creamy, salty, with a hint of heat. For a true taste of Lanna cuisine, this is a must-try dish.

Khao Soi


2. Kaeng Hungley

Indulge in the hearty, mouthwatering flavors of Kaeng Hungley, a succulent pork curry that’s a testament to the Burmese influence on Lanna cuisine. This aromatic stew is made from a tender pork belly simmered in a mild spice mixture, and enhanced with the warmth of ginger, the earthiness of turmeric, and the tangy kick of tamarind.

Unlike most curries, the traditional Kaeng Hungley recipe doesn’t incorporate coconut milk. However, some contemporary renditions introduce it for a thicker, creamier experience. Expect a complex layering of salty, sweet, and mildly spicy flavors that will have your taste buds dancing.

Kaeng Hungley

3. Sai Oua

Sai Oua is a must-try for meat lovers. This Northern-style pork sausage, also known as Chiang Mai sausage, is packed with aromatic herbs and spices. The minced pork is blended with dried chili, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, and galangal before being stuffed into casings and traditionally charcoal grilled for that irresistible smoky flavor.

The result is a juicy, savory sausage with a unique and addicting taste that will make you return for more. Served with fresh vegetables, sliced ginger, and spicy chili dip, Sai Oua is a popular dish among locals and tourists alike.

Sai Oua

4. Nam Phrik Ong

Nam Phrik Ong is a taste revelation for those who appreciate a subtle heat. Often considered the mildest of the Thai chili dips, this dish combines salty, sweet, and slightly sour notes in a flavor symphony appealing to a wide audience. The enticing red appearance, produced by the generous addition of tomatoes, is a delightful trick—despite the vibrant color, it’s wonderfully mild.

Minced pork is beautifully combined with chili paste to create a rich, meaty base. The tomatoes are then introduced, adding a fresh, tangy element that balances the overall taste. Typically served with an assortment of seasonal vegetables, Nam Phrik Ong encourages a playful exploration of textures and flavors.

Each crunchy bite of a cucumber or carrot dipped in this savory concoction is a surprising treat. Don’t be fooled by its unassuming looks—Nam Phrik Ong is a mellow yet flavorful journey worth taking.

Nam Phrik Ong

5. Nam Phrik Num

Experience the thrilling kick of Nam Phrik Num, a fiery green chili dip that is a staple in Lanna cuisine. Despite its unthreatening green hue, this dip delivers a satisfyingly spicy punch.

It’s a blend of roasted green chili peppers, aromatic garlic, shallots, and cloves, offering a range of heat from mild to medium. Paired with crispy Khaep Mu, or pork cracklings, it’s a combination that cools the heat while enhancing the rich pork flavor. It’s also a versatile companion to raw or cooked vegetables.

Fair warning though, if you’re not accustomed to spicy food, approach with caution! But for those who can handle the heat, Nam Phrik Num is a delicious and addictive addition to any meal.

Nam Phrik Num

6. Khanom Jeen Nam Ngeaw

Savor the unique blend of flavors in Khanom Jeen Nam Ngiew, an exceptional noodle dish from Northern Thailand. A harmonious medley of rice noodles, succulent pork, and tomatoes form the heart of this dish, but the true enchantment lies in the distinctive broth. Infused with tomatoes, a dried local flower called Dok Ngiew, and even cubes of pork blood, the broth exemplifies the art of Lanna’s cooking.

The result is a mouthwatering combination of salty, sweet, and tart flavors that beckons the palate. The dish is traditionally mild, but adventurous eaters can dial the heat with a sprinkle of dried chili. To top it off, a garnish of fried garlic, chili, pickled mustard greens, and bean sprouts brings an extra layer of texture and flavor.

Try Khanom Jeen Nam Ngiew, and you’ll be tasting a piece of Lanna’s rich culinary heritage.

Khanom Jeen Nam Ngeaw

7. Kaeng Ho

Kaeng Ho, also known as stir-fried curry Glass Noodles, is a popular dish in Northern Thailand. The word ‘Ho’ in Northern Thai means ‘mix or put together,’ which perfectly describes how the locals prepare this dish. Kaeng Ho is typically made by mixing leftover Hangle curry and stir-fried with glass noodles, kaffir lime leaves, bamboo shoots, lemongrass, and pork.

However, modern versions of this dish often use fresh ingredients for hygiene and nutritional purposes. The result is a flavorful combination of various textures and tastes, with a strong palate that ranges from mild to medium spiciness.

Kaeng Ho is not just a delicious meal; it’s also an example of the resourcefulness of Northern Thai cuisine, where leftovers are creatively transformed into a new and exciting dish.

Kaeng Ho

8. Kaeng Khanun

Venture into the unique culinary landscape of Northern Thailand with Kaeng Khanun, an unripe jackfruit curry that’s more of a soup than a curry. This intriguing dish is traditionally served at auspicious occasions, like wedding ceremonies and Thai New Year celebrations.

The star of the dish—the unripe jackfruit—lends it a distinctive, savory taste. Coupled with the tartness of cherry tomatoes and the richness of pork, it’s a gastronomic adventure unlike any other. Local herbs heighten the flavor profile, subtly complementing the main ingredients. This dish may not be a crowd favorite, but it offers an unparalleled local experience.

Much like Tom Yam in its hot and sour notes, Kaeng Khanun diverges with its unique blend of ingredients, setting it apart in the realm of Lanna cuisine. To truly immerse yourself in the culinary tapestry of the region, this dish is something you simply can’t miss.

Kaeng Khanun

9. Naem Moo

Indulge in the unique tastes of Northern Thailand with Naem Moo. It is a traditional fermented pork sausage known for its distinct sour flavor. Unlike other sausages, Naem Moo is not encased in a plastic tube or banana-leaf wrap.

Instead, it often comes in a freeform shape, the size of the pot or container used by vendors, and is cut into smaller pieces upon order. The distinct taste and texture of Naem Moo are shaped by the local ingredients used and the unique fermentation process.

Thinly sliced pork skin and fat, mixed with local seasonings, ferment in a pot, crafting the distinguished taste that sets it apart from other sausages. You can enjoy this Chiang Mai specialty raw or cooked, paired with roasted peanut, ginger, and chili. Naem Moo is a gastronomic journey to the heart of Northern Thailand that you must try when you get the chance.

Naem Moo

10. Larb Kua

Experience the vibrant intensity of Larb Kua, a culinary gem from Northern Thailand. It takes the classic Larb dish to new heights. Reminiscent of the Isan region’s spicy and sour minced pork salad. This Lanna-style variation incorporates pork blood and a unique array of regional dried spices.

The mixture is stir-fried (or ‘Kua’ as the Northern dialect describes it), resulting in a robust dish that is medium spicy and profoundly rich in herb and spice aroma. The inclusion of pork blood lends a depth of flavor that beautifully complements the aromatic spices.

In each mouthful, you’ll experience an assertive taste that simultaneously pays tribute to its Larb roots. It showcases the distinctive allure of Lanna cuisine. This is an exciting dish for the adventurous palates, a taste of the region’s history and culture in each flavorful bite. Larb Kua is a culinary journey not to be missed.

Larb Kua

11. Tam Khanun

Tam Khanun is a beloved dish in Northern Thailand, featuring boiled and tender unripe jackfruit. It is pounded with an assortment of seasonings and briefly stir-fried. This unique combination creates a flavorful and satisfying dish that has become one of the most common dishes in the region.

What sets Tam Khanun apart is its versatility – it can be found in restaurants, homes, and even markets. It has various versions incorporating peanuts, minced pork, tomato, or deep-fried garlic and chili.

The result is an explosion of textures and tastes in each bite. Whether you’re a fan of unripe jackfruit or simply looking to explore new flavor profiles, Tam Khanun is a dish that will leave a lasting impression on your taste buds.

Tam Khanun

In conclusion

In conclusion, Northern Thailand’s Lanna cuisine is a flavorful journey into a rich culinary heritage. Each dish offers a unique blend of tastes and textures, reflecting the region’s cultural diversity and natural bounty. Whether you’re a fan of spicy curries, savory sausages, or tangy salads, there’s a Lanna dish that’s perfect for your palate.

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