I backpacked through Myanmar 20 years ago and it’s my most beloved country in South East Asia, if not the world – from the tranquil serenity of Bagan, to the hustling madness of Yangon, to the intriguing dancing cats in the monastery on Inle Lake (all fabulous tourist hotspots). Combine this with the incredible peaceful goodness of its people, the unique culture and delicious cuisine and you have the ingredients that make Myanmar the magnificent country that it is. Burmese food has not received the recognition I feel it deserves, due to the repressive military dictatorship that isolated the country for more than 50 years. But with its subtle influences from neighbouring Thailand, China and India, this is a cuisine worth giving some attention to. Enjoy!
PREP TIME: 20 MINS
COOK TIME: 3 HOURS
SERVES: 8 PEOPLE
4 onions, diced finely
20 cloves garlic, diced
1 cup grated ginger
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
2kg pork loin roast, chopped into bite-size pieces (or use a leg, debone and chop)
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 cup sesame oil
2 cups water
More salt to taste
Fresh red chilli, sliced
- Take a large heavy pot and heat oil to a medium-high heat. Add onions then salt, stirring regularly for about 10 minutes.
- While this is cooking, take a fry pan, heat to a medium-high heat and add fennel, cardamom and caraway seeds. Heat until you can smell their aromas. Remove from heat, let cool, then roughly crush in pestle and mortar.
- Next add garlic and ginger to the onion mix, being careful not to let them brown, and cook for another 5 mins before adding turmeric and coriander powder.
- Add crushed seeds to the onion mix and cook for a further 2-3 mins (you may need more oil).
- Add pork in batches to the onion and spice mix till it is all coated with the mix. Add vinegar, sesame oil and the water and thoroughly combine.
- Cover with lid and cook on a very low heat for three hours, stirring occasionally. (Alternatively, pop it all in a slow cooker and cook on high for three hours.) You may need to add more water through the cooking.
- After 2.5 hours, taste to see if it needs more salt. If it is a little watery, instead of a thick gravy, remove lid for the last 30 mins. If the thickness is how you like it, leave the lid. (The meat should be almost falling apart. If it is a little firm and dry to bite just cook for a little longer.)
- Remove from heat and either leave in cooking dish, and garnish with chilli and coriander, or pour into large serving bowl and garnish. This dish goes well with a simple dahl and basmati rice or roti.