Guess what grub they dig

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By YUMMY BURMESE BITES WITH A FAMILY FEEL Sibendu Das Pictures: Anindya Shankar Ray
  • Published 26.12.12

With the third edition of Authentic Taste of Myanmar cooked and served, Chanda Dutt’s one-evening Burmese food festival has become a fun event to look out for.

On Saturday evening, the schoolteacher and wife of singer-actor-director Anjan Dutt ladled out an exotic spread with a lot of warmth to her 80-odd guests, mostly comprising friends and friends of friends. The twinkling fairy-lights on the lawns of her Beniapukur home, red lamps hanging down on the tables done up in white and orange, and the chill in the air made for the perfect setting for a meal and mingling.

Thanks to Facebook and the buzz around her first two festivals, queries had been pouring in for a third edition. “With every festival, I am trying to serve something new and essentially Burmese. Most people think Burmese food means only Khow Suey. So this time I have made Mou-hin-gha, a spicy fish-based broth with rice noodles, an essentially breakfast item,” said Chanda.

Priced at Rs 750 a meal, the menu consisted of Mou-hin-gha, Htamin Ne, Steamed Rice, Ba-La-Chaung (dry fish), Kyet-tha-Hsibiyah (chicken), Wet-tha-Hsibiyan (red and gold pork curry), A-thoke (Burmese salad), Wet-oo-chuang Gyaw (fried Chinese sausage), Crispy Calabash Fritters, Bok choy salad, chocolate and vanilla pudding. To pair it all were white, red and rose wines sponsored by Four Seasons.

The standout feature of the cuisine is the touch of fish in most dishes. For instance, Htamin Ne is sticky rice steamed in banana leaf with fish, herbs, onions, fried chillies and garlic oil. The best-seller, the red and gold pork curry, is typically Burmese too. “It is a fish-based curry called Ngapi. You don’t get the direct smell of fish yet you enjoy the subtle flavour that gets blended with the pork,” said Chanda.

The evening got even better with the Dutts coming together to make music — Anjan performing Seasons in the Sun and It’s Now or Never, with son Neel on the guitar and Chanda singing along.

“The good thing is that new people are coming in. The crowd is interesting. If she continues, I think Chanda can open a restaurant. But the challenge is to maintain this homely, family atmosphere in a full-fledged restaurant. The idea is that you come and have Burmese food with a family feel. That atmosphere is integral to the charm of this event,” said Anjan.