Daily Recco, October 21: Khow Suey, the one-pot wonder that went to Pakistan from Burma via India

Khow Suey has had a remarkable journey of originating in Burma, travelling with the migrants to India, and reaching all the way to Pakistan with the Memons to be known as khausa.

 |  4-minute read |   21-10-2020
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When one says Southeast Asian cuisine, our minds automatically travel to the exotic fish sauces and seafood from Indonesia and Vietnam, Pad Thai and Tom Yam soup from Thailand and the tropical fruits from Cambodia. But how about Burmese cuisine from Myanmar? While in the pre-Covid era, those of us in NCR, Mumbai and Bengaluru had the option of tucking in the food from the Burma Burma chain of restaurants, the others woefully had to resort to the regional understanding and adaptation of the cuisine from the wonderful land of Mohinga and Khow Suey.

main_khow_suey_faceb_102120022936.jpgWhile traditionally it was made with egg noodles and beef curry, the vegetarian adaptation of Khow Suey is equally popular on the streets of Myanmar. (Photo: Twitter)

Burmese food has a liberal dose of coconut, banana stem, spices and lentils, besides seafood, red meat and poultry. Rice is the staple source of carbs. While the cuisine is a combination of fares from various regions of Myanmar — coastal and inland — it also is influenced by the food from neighbouring countries, particularly China, Thailand and India. The national food of Myanmar — Mohinga — is a rice noodle and fish soup. Khow Suey is another popular one-pot dish made of noodles and curried vegetables or meat in coconut milk. In fact, so popular is the dish that it travelled to East India with the Indians who migrated from Burma during World War II and became a popular street food here. And the Memon community of Pakistan also adapted this dish that is now a representative Memon dish, known as Khausa.

While traditionally it was made with egg noodles and beef curry, the vegetarian adaptation is equally popular on the streets of Myanmar. We present that version to you here. However, feel free to substitute the vegetables with the meat of your choice. Do not be overwhelmed by the sheer number of ingredients or the processes of grinding the spices and deep frying. The end result will be totally worth it, we promise.

What you’ll need:

The base:

Two cups of boiled rice noodles (or any other noodles you prefer)

The curry paste:

A two-inch stalk of lemongrass

Three whole dry red chillies

A quarter teaspoon of black peppercorns

One teaspoon of cumin seeds (jeera)

A quarter teaspoon of turmeric powder (haldi)

Half a tablespoon of chopped garlic

One tablespoon of freshly grated coconut

One teaspoon of finely chopped ginger

One tablespoon of poppy seeds (khus-khus)

Half a tablespoon of chopped cashew nuts

The curry:

Cooking oil

One sprig curry leaves

A quarter cup grated onions

A quarter cup grated tomatoes

About 250 grams of mixed vegetables that have been half-boiled — take your pick from diagonally sliced French beans, sliced carrots, shelled green peas, cauliflower and/ or broccoli that has been separated into florets, diced baby corn, yellow zucchinis that have been halved with skin. Alternately, here is where you could substitute with the same quantity of meat of your choice.

One and a half cup coconut milk — if you like to take the traditional route, you could extract coconut milk by grinding fresh coconut with very little water and squeezing the milk out. Else, opt for readymade coconut milk powder and follow the instructions on the pack to get the required quantity. You could also buy the coconut milk in tetra packs.

Salt to taste

The garnish:

Oil for deep-frying

A quarter cup garlic roundels

Half a cup thinly sliced onions

A quarter cup of coarsely crushed peanuts

A dash of lemon juice

How to:

Foremost grind the lemongrass stalk, dry red chillies, black peppercorns, cumin seeds, turmeric powder, half a tablespoon chopped garlic, freshly grated coconut, chopped ginger, poppy seeds and the chopped cashew nuts into a smooth paste with about half a cup of water. This is the curry paste.

Next, heat two tablespoons of cooking oil in a deep non-stick pan; add the curry leaves, grated onions and sauté on a medium flame till it starts lightly browning.

Add the curry paste and sauté further on a medium flame for about a minute, and then add the grated tomatoes continuing to sauté on a medium flame for two minutes

Add the mixed vegetables, coconut milk and salt. Now mix it well and cook on a medium flame for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Wait till the vegetables are evenly and fully cooked in the curry base.

For the garnish, deep fry the garlic roundels in oil on medium flame till it browns, take it out and strain on absorbent paper and set aside. Next deep fry the onion slices in the same oil wait for it to start browning, take it and strain on absorbent paper and set aside separately from the garlic.

To serve, take a cup of rice boiled rice noodles, ladle out the cooked curry evenly on top of it, garnish with the portions of deep-fried onions, deep-fried garlic, crushed peanuts and a dash of lemon juice. Toss it gently.

Serve immediately — the more you let it sit, the soggier the dish becomes.

Also Read | Daily Recco, October 16: Bunny Chow, where India meets South Africa


Rajeshwari Ganesan Rajeshwari Ganesan @rajeshwaridotg

The author writes on wildlife, environment, gender issues, science, health, books and a host of other topics. A professional journalist and a passionate environmentalist. Former Assistant Editor, DailyO.

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