Monday, February 25, 2013

Burmese Chicken Curry - Chet Tha Sipyan

Curry in Burmese is called ‘Sipyan’ which literally means ‘oil returns’, a sign that the gravy is ready. Although it’s called a curry, very few spices are used.  The color is achieved with the help of tomato paste and the flavor is created by simmering the pureed onion, garlic, red chilli and tomato paste long and slow. Sipyan tastes great cooked with chicken, duck, pork, beef or plain vegetables, served over a bed of Ohn Htamin or Burmese coconut rice.

Burmese Coconut Rice - Ohn Htamin

Rice is an essential part of any Asian or Indian meal. In my home, we're particular about what kind of rice we eat. Basmati rice is our favourite, but if that isn't available, jasmine rice comes in at a close second. Packaged instant rice tastes horrible when one is used to either basmati or jasmine long-grain rice. Some people prefer short-grain sticky rice which I have yet to experiment with, and try to avoid because of its high starch content. So the discussion here focuses on long-grain rice.

The easiest way to prepare long-grain rice is to wash it, let it soak for 10-15 minutes and cook it with double the quantity of water in the rice cooker. No need to worry about it catching and burning at the bottom because most rice cookers turn off automatically when the water is absorbed completely. 

Cooking rice on the stove top is really easy to do, but I would suggest setting a timer as a reminder to turn off the stove so the rice doesn't burn. I've blogged about making perfect basmati rice on the stove top and in the microwave oven and my methods have been successful every time.

Now, to get back to this delicious recipe for Ohn Htamin, it forms the base for a festive Burmese meal because it goes so well with any sipyan or Burmese curry. The memories of our childhood in Burma come rushing back at the thought of this meal! The perfect condiment for Ohn Htamin is dry balachaung, also an essential part of the Burmese table. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mango & Saffron Srikhand

Yogurt Mousse with Mango & Saffron
Mango pulp and Greek yogurt are staples in my pantry. When guests arrive for dinner on short notice, this dessert is very easy to whip up and is always a hit! Rose syrup and mango pulp are available in Indian grocery stores, as are saffron & cardamom powder.

Prep Time: 5 min
Chill Time: 1 hour or overnight
Serves: 4-6

½ cup mango pulp
1 (7 oz.) tub Greek yogurt
¼ tsp. cardamom powder
1 tsp. rose water
sugar to taste
½ tsp. saffron (kesar), crushed
1 Tbsp. milk

  1. Stir half the crushed saffron into milk, microwave for 10 seconds and set aside.
  2. Beat mango pulp with yogurt, rose water, cardamom powder and soaked saffron.
  3. Adjust sugar according to taste.
  4. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with remaining crushed saffron.
  5. Chill in the refrigerator overnight or for at least an hour.
  6. Serve chilled.

Note: If Greek yogurt is not available, use plain yogurt that has been drained of all moisture.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mango Lassi

Mango & Yogurt Smoothie
Mango lassi is a mango and yogurt smoothie that is generally served at Indian restaurants in India and abroad. It is amazingly refreshing in the hot summer months. The addition of ginger powder gives the smoothie a special flavor and aids in the digestion of the mango. This beverage is delicious!

Makes 2 servings

1 cup mango pulp (see Other Options below)
1 tub (4 oz.) Dannon Lite & Fit (45 calories) vanilla yogurt
   or 1 cup plain yogurt + 3 tsp. sugar, or to taste
1/2 cup milk or Land O Lakes fat-free half-and-half
1/8 tsp. ginger powder
1/8 tsp. cardamom powder

Whip all ingredients together with an egg beater.
Sprinkle with cardamom powder.
Chill and serve within 24 hours.

Other Options:
Mango pulp is available in 30 oz. cans in Indian grocery stores. If it is not available where you live, it can be replaced with a ripe mango, peeled, deseeded, chopped & pureed. Extra sugar, may be required, according to taste.

Mango can be replaced with canned peaches or sweetened frozen strawberries.
It would be fun to experiment with other fruits.

The vanilla or plain yogurt can be replaced with vanilla ice cream.

This recipe was shared on:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Red Lentils with Mango and Eggplant


1-½ cups red lentils (masoor dal)
3 cups water
2 Oriental eggplants, cut in bite-size pieces and tossed with salt
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
½ tsp. black mustard seeds
2 dried red chilies
2 tsp. ginger paste
1 (3 oz.) pkg. dried unsweetened mango slices
or 1 green mango, peeled, deseeded and chopped
Salt to taste
1 tsp. ghee or melted butter
cilantro, chopped
2–3 whole green chilies


1.    Wash lentils until water runs clear.
2.    Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat & add mustard & dried chilies.
3.    When mustard seeds start to sizzle, add lentils, salt, mango and water.
4.    Cover and cook on medium heat until lentils are tender.
5.    Adjust salt to taste, add eggplant and ginger paste.
6.    Cover and cook until eggplant pieces are cooked.
7.    Garnish with ghee, cilantro and whole green chilies.
8.    Transfer to a serving dish and serve with steamed rice or naan.

Kashmiri Rogan Josh

This dish was inspired by a couple of recipes posted on Facebook, but I modified it to suit my family's taste. I reduced the amount of Kashmiri mirch and added 2 Roma tomatoes instead and also added potatoes because of our love of meat and potatoes :) 

I was tempted to cook this in the pressure cooker, but decided to take the traditional route and cook it long and slow on top of the stove.  It took a total of 1-1/2 hours to cook.


2 lbs. baby lamb leg, cut in stew pieces
1 Russet potato, cubed (optional)
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cinnamon sticks
4 black cardamoms
2 star anise
2 medium (Roma) tomatoes, chopped
½ tsp. hing (asafoetida)
1 level tsp. dried ginger powder
1 heaped tsp. Kashmiri mirch
½ tsp. black pepper powder
½ tsp. cardamom powder
1 cup boiling chicken broth
1 level tsp. roasted fennel seed powder
1 tsp. garam masala
salt to taste

  1. Wash lamb pieces and rub well with salt.
  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat and temper with hing, cinnamon sticks,    black cardamom and star anise.
  3. Add lamb pieces, fry until oil resurfaces, add tomatoes and again cook until oil resurfaces. This step should take about half an hour.
  4. Reduce heat to medium, stir in ginger, black pepper, Kashmiri mirch and cardamom powder.
  5. Stir well and add chicken broth and potatoes.
  6. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender for about an hour.
  7. Add fennel seed powder and garam masala, adjust salt and remove from heat.
  8. Serve with rice or naan. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Cauliflower, Potatoes & Shrimp in White Poppy Seed Sauce

Phool Kopi Alu Chingri Posto
White poppy seed sauce (known in Bengali as 'posto') is very versatile and can be used to dress practically any vegetable. The addition of black mustard seed paste and grated coconut gives it an added dimension of flavour.  And shrimp will, of course, take it up the ultimate notch! 

1 lb. shrimp, shelled & deveined
Paste of
   1 tsp. black mustard seeds
   2 tsp. white poppy seeds
   2 tsp. freshly grated unsweetened coconut
   2 green chillies
   Salt to taste
juice of 1 lime
2 + 4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. nigella seeds (a.k.a. kalo jeera/kalonji)
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
1 russet potato, cut in long wedges
1 Tbsp. ginger paste
1 tsp. ghee
½ tsp. sugar
1 tsp. chopped cilantro
4 green chillies, slit

Soak black mustard seeds with salt for ½ an hour and drain.
Soak white poppy seeds in boiling water for ½ an hour. Do not drain.
Purée the paste ingredients listed above along with water poppy seeds were soaked in.
Add lime juice to the paste, stir well and set aside.
In a skillet, heat 4 Tbsp. oil & sputter nigella seeds.
Add and cook cauliflower, potatoes with ginger paste & salt until cooked.
Add shrimp and pour poppy seed paste over vegetables in skillet, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Add sugar, adjust salt and garnish with ghee, cilantro & green chillies.
Serve with steamed Basmati rice.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Catfish Steaks in Fennel Seed Sauce

Mouri Bata Diye Magur Maacher Jhol

This dish was inspired by Ishani Ghosh Majumdar's recipe posted on Kitchen Raagas group in Facebook:
Ishani made this dish with climbing perch (koi maach) which is not readily available in this area. Both climbing perch and catfish are bought live from the markets in Bengal, India, and dressed by the fishmonger only after they are sold. As an alternative, I've used live catfish from the oriental store and requested the fishmonger to cut it into steaks. 

The fennel paste is made by roasting fennel seeds in a dry skillet until their aroma is released, taking care not to brown them. Once cooled, the fennel seeds are ground to a fine powder in a coffee grinder that has been reserved specifically for grinding spices.  

After each use, the spice grinder is whirred with baking powder to clean it and remove all aromas.

6 catfish steaks
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. fennel seeds
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp. ginger paste
½ tsp. turmeric
1 Tbsp. Kashmiri mirch or chili powder
2 + 1 Tbsp. fennel seeds, roasted and ground to a fine powder
½ tsp. sugar
salt to taste
4 green chilies, slit
chopped cilantro

1. Apply salt & turmeric to catfish and set aside to marinate for ½ an hour.
2. Make a paste with 1 tsp. oil, ginger paste, salt, Kashmiri mirch & 2 Tbsp. fennel powder.
3. Stir remaining 1 Tbsp. fennel powder and sugar with water and set aside.
4. In a skillet over medium-high heat, fry catfish steaks in oil and set aside.
5. In the same oil, fry fennel seeds until they sputter, then add the tomatoes.
6. Cook tomatoes with 1st batch of fennel paste until tomatoes break down.
7. Add a cup of boiling water, stir the gravy and adjust salt to taste.
8. Add fried catfish, bring gravy to a boil and add 2nd batch of fennel paste.
9. Garnish with cilantro & green chilies and serve with steamed Basmati rice.

Mung Dal with Sweet Potatoes & Carrots

Kacha Mooger Dal Shobji Diye

Every now and then, I like to have mung dal in its unroasted form. It's called 'kacha mooger dal' in Bengali  which translates to 'raw mung lentils'.  I like to add vegetables (shobji) to lentils to get more vegetables into our daily diet.


1 cup mung dal, washed and soaked in water for 1/2 hour
1 sweet potato, cubed
1 cup baby carrots, halved
2 Tbsp. extra light olive oil
1 Tbsp. ginger paste
½ tsp. shah jeera or jeera/cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 star anise
½ tsp. turmeric powder
salt to taste
½ tsp. sugar
1 tsp. ghee (clarified butter)
2-4 green chillies, slit in half
chopped cilantro

  1. Bring lentils, along with water it was soaked in, to a boil and simmer until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet and fry cinnamon stick, star anise and shah jeera until seeds sputter.
  3. Add sweet potatoes, carrots, ginger paste and turmeric.
  4. Stir everything and simmer on medium heat until vegetables are cooked.
  5. Pour cooked lentils over vegetables, add sugar, salt and 1 cup hot water and bring to a boil.
  6. Simmer for 10-15 minutes and adjust salt to taste.
  7. Garnish with ghee, green chillies and cilantro and serve with hot cooked basmati rice, naan or tortilla.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Burmese Green Beans

I've given Mum's recipe a slight Burmese twist with the addition of dried shrimp powder, soya sauce, fish sauce and toasted sesame oil.

Burmese Dessert - Sanwin Makin

Cream of Wheat Cake Made With  Coconut Milk
I adapted this recipe submitted by Saw Saw Win on the Burmese Food Lovers' Kitchen group in Facebook. The amount of brown sugar has been reduced from 3-1/2 cups to 2 cups for those of us who have to watch our sugar levels, and the oven temperature increased to 375°F from 350°F.

There was a snow storm last night (about 5" or so) and when I looked out of the living room window this morning, I found that the young man who lives across the street from us was hard at work, removing the snow from our driveway with his snow-blower.  To thank him for his kindness, a few squares of this dessert and some oranges were hand-delivered to him by my husband.

DH was not able to describe the dessert to him except to say that the white things on top were white poppy seeds, so I called him on the telephone and gave him a list of the other ingredients just so he would know what he was eating. The young man is a chef and much appreciated the details!