Mouthful of Myanmar in a teahouse
On a sleepy Sunday morning in the conservatory of the Karma Kettle teahouse, the sweet and sour aromas of Burmese cuisine filled the artfully decorated room. Guests were invited to indulge in the gourmet dishes on display as a relaxing mix of Kean and Fleetwood Mac chimed in the background. That was the setting for Chanda Dutt’s latest Burmese food festival, Taste of Myanmar. Cooked with expertise, authenticity and nostalgia, this festival is true to Dutt’s culinary reputation. t2 dropped by for a taste of Myanmar.
Nan Gyi Thoke (Noodle salad with Chicken): At a first glance, this plate looks like a piping-hot tagliatelle pasta, but do not be fooled because this is an unique Burmese dish. Served cold, this dish is made with flat noodles and filled with red chillies, chopped tomatoes, sesame seeds, coriander leaves and chicken. A hearty flavour not dominated by spices.
Wet-tha si Biyan (Steamed Rice with Red and Gold Pork Curry): This dish makes for wholesome comfort food. A plateful of rice with sweet and succulent pork dry curry that had a generous amount of fat. The sides included soft, stir-fried pok choy with sesame seeds and fried garlic and Burmese balachaung (crispy shrimp relish made with fried onions, garlic and ginger). A perfect Sunday lunch!
Khao Pyin: For those with a sweet tooth, this sumptuously moist dessert will tantalise your taste buds. The USP of the sweet delight is the black sticky rice that is coated in a jaggery syrup and served with a smooth coconut cream. Sprinkled with grated coconut and palm sugar on top, this chewy dish is unapologetically indulgent.
Nga Htamin (Sticky Rice with Fish): Fish is an identifying feature of Burmese cuisine. In this dish, fermented rice is mixed with turmeric powder to produce a luminous yellow tinge which is then kneaded into a soft texture with boiled Rui fish, fresh tomato paste and spring onions. The roasted red chilli garnish adds heat.
La-Phet Thoke (Tea leaf Salad): This Burmese salad is unique for its main ingredient — pickled tea leaves. “Tea leaves are originally bitter but traditional Burmese recipes use fermentation to reduce this taste to a salty sourness,” explained Dutt. Chewy lentils, sesame seeds and fried garlic complement the soft leaves and tomatoes, while chilli and garlic oil add flavour. The dish is deliciously sharp in taste with a complex texture.
Text: Natasha Livingstone
Pictures: B. Halder