Thai street food : Gaeng hang lay (northern style pork curry)


Chiang Mai is a great city, full of life and good food at every turn.  There is real food heritage, and dishes you wouldn’t find in western style Thai restaurants. Northern food contains influence from many of the surrounding countries – Laotian, Burmese and Chinese food.

Gaeng hang lay is, like khao soi a bit of a local speciality in the Chiang Mai area. Historically, like a lot of regional delicacies it was more than likely a special occasion meal, due to its long cooking time and use of expensive meat.

Unlike a lot of other Thai curries it doesn’t involve coconut milk, so the stock is topped up with water and cooked down.

So what goes into it? The meat is pork, usually big fatty chunks of pork – in this case it looked like belly pork. With layers of caramelised fat and flesh coated in shining syrupy gravy.

Gaeng hang lay - northern thai style pork curry

Gaeng hang lay – northern thai style pork curry

The gravy is a rich stock cooked out for hours using lots of ginger, cloves of garlic, lots of onion, tamarind paste and sugar. Peanuts are often added to stock too, and it’s not unheard of to find pineapple included. Obviously variations exist and recipes will have been adapted, changed and I’m sure in some cases completely ruined, but it still stands that this is a traditional northern Thai dish, something you’re unlikely to find executed well outside of the country

It goes without saying that, as a traditional celebration dish this is not the healthiest dish, but well worth trying during a visit.

We tried this at khao soi jammer jai, in Chiang mai, which is also home to a pretty banging khao soi – A good place to stop if you want to try a few different things, the nam prik num was tasty and the satay was popular amongst others.


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