Friday, 10 October 2014

Remembering Thadingyut

By: Mr Robot 

Thadingyut: the festival of light at the October full moon.

M-O-O-N spells Thadingyut
We were in Maymyo (now Pyin Oo Lwin) last time around, digging into Mrs R's heritage, and it was a wonderful experience.

We walked around the town as the sun set, and areas that were unprepossessing by day - and any other time - became magical this night. There were streets of wooden houses surrounded by irrigation ditches, with little wooden bridges across and balustrades around - all lined with dozens and dozens of candles.  Clearly there was precious little in the way of plumbing or electricity. It was dreadfully picturesque. Yet small children excitedly ran out to greet us, and everyone was smiles and goodwill.

It's the closest thing to a Dickens Christmas I've ever seen.

From our hotel. We bought our own candle elephant to remember this night

Amazing to think that was a year ago, but the moon says it must be. So we decided to mark this Thadingyut in our own small way, with some Burmese food and, of course, candles.

Since it's a 3-day festival we've had a couple of nights to play (sadly the third night - the big celebration - is logistically compromised) and turned as ever to MiMi Aye.

For the first night we returned to one of the first Burmese dishes we made: Mogok pork curry. This is a deep, dark, savoury dish, rich with soy and ginger, and soft, sticky pig. It's extremely simple to make and demands only the patience to let it simmer for an hour or so.

We're never entirely sure how runny to make it: it starts off very liquid - intuitively, too liquid - but I suspect my love of massively intense reductions pushes me a bit too far. Certainly all the curries we had in Burma were quite saucy (ooh!), no doubt to spread flavour across the customary ton or two of rice.

Mogok Pork Curry

Mind you, we hardly pretend to great authenticity but merely fudge our way through as best (and respectfully) we can. It's always jolly good anyway.

For the second night we picked up the first of MiMi's recipes we ever saw (Mrs R found it - big up her), and one of the funniest pieces of food writing I've ever read. Honestly - it's right up there with Jerome K Jerome's pineapple tin. Note, however, that this is probably not the moment to get the children involved in the kitchen.

Anyway, once you've got past the evisceration scene, there's the recipe for Gahlar-thar Hin, or Bachelors' Curry: a chicken dish presumably so called because the chances of a snog afterwards are exactly zero. It's VERY garlicky.

Actually that's unfair because I did a big fail: the recipe calls for a shed-load of garlic, onion, tomato, chilli etc to be blitzed into a paste and then cooked off. Guess who got impatient and, therefore, a load of raw garlic...

Bachelors' Curry. Enjoy it - it's the only hot chick you'll get tonight

So if you make this - and I urge you to - be sure to give it a good long time to cook the paste through properly. I mean, there's a lot of paste there. A LOT. It'll take longer than you (or at least I) think.

Happily I was making it a day ahead so was able to give it a good long time to cook most of that rawness out, and let the whole thing mature overnight to boot. This is, as MiMi says, quite a soupy dish with "rice swimming in rich gravy" which turns out to be an excellent idea. It's unusually spicy for Burmese food (in my tiny experience), not bonkers but with a decent hit, and extremely satisfying.

Oh, and if you have a stinking cold ignore all the cooking out stuff and keep the garlic nice and punchy: clears the tubes out a treat.

Happy Thadingyut everybody.

All images (c) PP Gettins

1 comment:

  1. That looks delicious! And I loved reading the post from the other blogger that you linked too, I was laughing so hard people at my office were looking at me funny. Burma sounds really beautiful, it would be amazing to experience that sometime.