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.