It took me a while to start my first day at Chiang Mai. Its a slow city; even the morning newspaper arrives only at 11am. By the time I was out of the door the sun was already showing off a little, and the day's bustle past its morning peak. Beyond the tuk tuk stand outside the hotel was a small cluster of restaurants, one of which caught my attention. It advertised mutton biriyani. The restaurant, it turned out, offered local Muslim food (properly certified by the local mullahs, the sign also said). I'd been told by Lonely Planet that Muslims here were the legacy of Chiang Mai's bygone glory days, when caravans from Yunnan brought goods, foods and religions. Quite different from the pork-centric menus of the rest of the populace, the stall offered chicken, mutton, beef and shrimp biriyani. However, rice weighed too heavily on my unexercised conscience, so I ordered oxtail soup instead.
This was revealed to be a steaming bowl of clear, bracingly spicy broth full of large chunks of oxtail, tomatoes, onions, coriander, star anise and bird chillies. Quite delicious, even if some of the drool is your nose watering in protest.