A vegetarian Burmese Khow Suey

A sister-in-law of mine once told me that what we call Burmese Khow Suey only exists in our Indian imaginations. In her three year stay in Yangon, she didn’t come across anything remotely like it .

However, I first came upon Khow Suey when I was all of 13 years old. A much travelled aunt who used to make a big production of being invited by her , once included my brother and me when she invited my parents to her much prized Sunday brunch

. To say I was gob smacked is an understatement. For me it was like dying and going to heaven.

For several years I used to think that  Khow Suey was the ultimate in exotic cuisine and kept her reluctantly shared recipe close to my chest. That was before the now defunct Busaba opened up Burmese cuisine to the everyday Mumbaikar.

The other day I was slurping down my chicken Khow Suey at Palladium Social when Hubby Dear expressed a keenness to try the coconut curry.

Since he had assiduously passed up the Khow Suey every time it was made at home, I was once again gob smacked !

And what was more shocking was that he asked me to make a Vegetarian version for Sunday’s lunch .

So here’s what I did 

Burmese khow suey

Burmese khow suey


  • For the curry
  • 1 x 200 g coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 small onion grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic ginger paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon red chill powder ( depending on how fiery you like it)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander powder
  • 1 heaped tablespoon chick pea flour ( besan)
  • For the vegetables
  • 1 cup pre-cooked Nutrela Soya nuggets
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 3 baby corn
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper chopped
  • 1/4 cup yellow bell pepper chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely sliced mushroom
  • For the garnish
  • 1 finely sliced onion made into a barista ( deep fried to a crisp golden brown)
  • 2 teaspoons golden fried chopped garlic
  • chopped coriander
  • chopped green onion
  • coarsely ground roast peanuts
  • crumbled boiled egg
  • lemon quarters


  • To make the curry :
  • Heat the oil in a pan and add the grated onion and stir till pink. Then add the garlic ginger paste and continue stirring. Reduce the heat to avoid sticking.
  • When the onion is golden brown, add the turmeric, red chilli powder and coriander powder. Roast till you get the aroma of roasted spices ( around a minute or so).
  • Add the chick pea flower and continue stirring till the flour is slightly roasted.
  • Toss in the vegetables one by one starting out with the baby corn, then broccoli, mushroom and bell peppers. Finally add in the cooked soya nuggets.
  • Add just enough water and cover with a lid .
  • Allow the pot to simmer till the vegetables are just done.
  • Remove the lid and add the coconut milk.
  • Once again allow the curry to simmer - letting it thicken a bit.
  • Adjust the salt before serving
  • Serve with steamed noodles or steamed white rice.
  • Khow Suey is served on top of the noodles/rice with all the accompaniments added on top . Mix together to get an interesting mix of crunch and flavour.
  • You could add a dash of lime if you like slightly tangy, citrusy flavour.

Yummy scrummy #Rava Ladoos like granny used to make

A traditional festival like Diwali needs traditional sweets like Ladoo especially sweet and moist Rava Ladoos, flavoured with coconut, saffron and cardamom.  For that special granny made flavour I got together:

  • 6 cups rava. Ask for the finest grade rava
  • 1 whole coconut freshly grated
  • 2 cups pure ghee
  • 4 cups grain sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 strands of saffron
  • 1 tbsp ground cardamom

And here’s what I did:

  1. In a wok or Kadhai heat the ghee. Add the rava and stir till the rava turns a faint pink and the air is redolent with the aroma of roasted rava.
  2. Add the grated coconut and toast some more.
  3. In another pan allow the sugar to dissolve in the water and then cook till single string consistency.
  4. Add saffron and cardamom and then pour into rava mixture
  5. Stir well and allow to cool.
  6. Bind into ping pong sized balls and allow to set
  7. Store in air tight box.

Because of the coconut, these Ladoo don’t stay good outside. Either keep refrigerated or consume within a week!

Now don’t these look irresistibly yum? 

For more recipes visit my eBook that is free for Kindle readers on Amazon < the Fragrance of Mango Blossoms> or purchase on line from  www.popularprakashan.com

On a trip to New Jersey ( which has a large Indian population) I found that Diwali and other Indian festivals are celebrated with great enthusiasm. Families get together , visit temples and of course indulge in traditional Indian sweets . 

There are several Indian stores that sell Indian food and sweets but equally there are enthusiastic foodies who actually make their own goodies right from scratch.

Should you be so inspired , do have  look at DesiDakaar’s recipe at:

Title: Rava Ladoo Recipe – DesiDakaar
Link: http://www.desidakaar.com/rava-ladoo-recipe





#CurryInaHurry#Prawns anyone? 

This morning I opened up my freezer and found a packet of prawn that literally called out to me ‘Cook me !cook me !’

So I gathered together 

  • 300 g medium prawn shelled and deveined 
  • 1 onion (grated)
  • 1 tomato (grated)
  • 2 tbsps cooking oil
  • 1/2 tspn garlic ginger paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 peppercorns 
  • 2 cloves 
  • 1/4 tspn turmeric powder 
  • 1/4 tspn freshly made garam masala powder 
  • 1/4 tspn godamasala
  • 1/2 packet coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander

And here’s what I did

  1. I heated up the oil in a karahi and then added the bay leaf, peppercorns and cloves.
  2. I quickly added the onion and garlic ginger and gave it a good stir .
  3. When the onions turned translucent,I added the spice powders and gave it a good stir.
  4. Then I added the tomato and let it cook for a minute till the oil began to glisten.
  5. Then I dunked in the prawn sprinkled some salt for taste. I have it a good stir before lowering the heat and allowing it to simmer for a minute.
  6. Then to finish off, I added the coconut milk and chopped coriander. I allowed the curry to bubble for 2 more minutes before turning off the heat.

I will serve this with hot phulka or steamed rice. This easily serves 2 as a main dish but can stretch to feed 4 if combined with other dishes on the table like daal,vegetables and salad .

To make  authentic godamasala refer to my book ‘The Fragrance of Mango Blossoms ‘ which can be downloaded (free for Kindle users ) from Amazon. Else order your hard copy from the publishers directly at Popular Prakashan. 

Happy eating!

#10 minute cool Kokum Saar

With October being the hottest ever , it probably makes sense to have something cooling and different like the Soul Kadhi or Kokum Saar.

The Kokum Saar or Soul Kadhi is popular with people living in coastal Maharashtra (and Goa)  because Garcinia Indica or Kokum is commonly found there. A well known secret to healthy eating is eating the produce of the land hence this flavouring agent was always found in my grandmother’s kitchen.

This fruiting tree growing rampantly in the Western Ghat region of peninsular India bears tiny red fruit that are eaten fresh or stored dried to be used as a souring agent in our cooking. It has many therapeutic properties, primary among them anti histaminic, , digestive, appetite suppressant  and many more.

So I thought that with this oppressing weather and the high prices of daal, I’d make a different kind of soupy gravy to dunk my rice in. Especially my cool Kokum saar that takes all of 10 minutes to make.

A cool Kokum Saar
A cool Kokum Saar

Here’s what I did to make this gorgeous pink, sour coconut cream saar that is always eaten cold!

I got together the following ingredients :

  • a handful of dried Kokum skins
  • 1 tspn oil
  • 3-4 curry leaves
  • 1/4 tspn cumin seed ( zeera)
  • 1 whole green chilli
  • water for cooking
  • 1 small tetrapak of coconut milk
  • 1 tspn finely chopped fresh coriander
  1. I heated the oil in a pot and when it was hot, I added the curry leaves and cumin seed.
  2. After the seeds went pop, I added the dried Kokum, green chill and coriander and the water. I lowered the heat and allowed the water to boil, extracting the sourness from the dried Kokum skins.
  3. I added the coconut milk and again brought it to a slow boil taking care not to let the coconut milk curdle.
  4. Putting off the heat, I added salt and a pinch of sugar to round off the sourness.

Now if this isn’t a quick and easy cool Kokum saar, what is?

[tweetthis display_mode=”box”]In some homes this saar is served every day as it is a very effective digestive and makes a refreshing cool drink especially in the hot, coastal weather. [/tweetthis]

Move over Gazpacho, Kokum Saar is here!

For more of such authentic recipes that are a great substitute for daal, visit my ebook The Fragrance of Mango Blossoms  or order the hard copy online.



The Malaysian Food Festival- Trident Mumbai


I am not really into food festivals but I was keen on attending the Malaysian Food Festival which is currently being hosted at India Jones at the Trident, Nariman Point, Mumbai . My first day visit plans were stymied  swearing in of our new Chief Minister and his cabinet  as the hotel was full and all the restaurants were full too! So I did the next best thing which was to book for Monday night – traditionally a dull night in most restaurants. Because we were dining en famille where the youngest member was all of 18 months, we took the first booking at 7.30 and were a bit taken aback when we found  India Jones not only empty but was actually shut! when we arrived earlier than our scheduled time!

Luckily the staff at the Frangipani next door obliged us with a seat while we waited for the doors to open ( also obliging little one with a scrumptious chocolate)  and when they did, were shown to a table with a sofa seat – a must when dining with young babies as this can double up as a bed. It can also be a recipe for disaster if the young diner decides to crawl up to the neighbouring table and disturb their dinner. Luckily our  sofa was till the corner where a couple which obviously looked like a food critic and his spouse as the chef was brought along to talk to them…….

After we settled down, we got down to the main business of studying the menu and doing the ordering which was quite complex given the choices  but then we decided to take the easy way out which was to order the sampler platter. This was almost like ordering an Indian Thali where you are given a little bit of each dish.

The Appetizers

The appetizer plate which consisted of the famous Satay a skewer each of lamb and chicken which was deliciously spiced and coated with a crunchy peanut sauce. The surprise was the crisply fried fish  (Kerabu Mangaa Jeruk Ikan) served on a bed of mango salad with slivers of carrot adding to the texture and taste.

The Roti Jala Kush Kari Ikan was an interesting looking roll of a perforated rice pancake to be  eaten with a fiery hot red fish curry.

We were each given a portion of Aayam Panggang Madu which is not a fried Marwari (as you may think) but  grilled chicken coated with a honey sauce. This was a bit like a chikken tikka with the skin !

Our plates were cleared off and the Sup Ayam Bersantan which was a chicken soup with a coconut base was put before us. No this was not a chicken curry watered down but a delightful soup with sliced carrot, bits of mushroom and baby corn and a strong flavour of lemon grass to lift it from the mundane.

The Mains

I was a bit disappointed when I saw a mound of rice (Nasi Miyank Halba – ghee rice) and three pieces of what distinctly looked like a paratha (Roti Canai) and a bowl of spicy noodles in the main dish. These were to be eaten with the accompanying Rendang Daging Temasik (braised tenderloin – yummy), Gulai Kambing Kentang ( a thin meat and potato curry – ok) , Karin Ikan Ibunda( fish curry with vegetables- reminiscent of Goan fish curry) and Sambal Udang Tradisi ( braised prawn in chilli tamarind sauce – strong sambhar overtones).

The Desserts

South Asian desserts do not really appeal to the Indian palate which is used to a sweeter and more robust taste hence I was disappointed with the desserts. We were treated to Agar-agar Kelapa which was a coconut jelly ( one thing I can’t stand) , the Bubur pulut hitam Gula Melaka which was like a watered down coconut milk payasam and the Bua Buahana Manis Bersyrup which was assorted fruit in pandan syrup, an overall let down after the sumptuous meal we were treated to. The fruit salad looked distinctly out of a tin and even though it had interesting textures ( a frilly mushroom which tasted cartilagenous!) was decidedly the best of the lot.

The Verdict.

The quantities were generous,(including the to die for  jumbo prawn sambhar)  the the presentation excellent, the ambiance perfect for families and young couples and the price pretty ok at Rs.3500 + tax considering that you were getting a meal at a premier dining restaurant in a five star hotel.

Well, the food festival is definitely worth going for if one wants a different kind of cuisine out but not too unfamiliar from the tried and tested because the food was almost like eating Indian. In fact  it reminded me of our Chinese friend from Ningbo Zhou Guo Qing  who said that Indian food was like Chinese food ! Perhaps there was some truth to that at least when I ate Mayalsian food.

So if you are feeling indulgent and are looking to pamper your palate with a similar but dissimilar cuisine do go for the Malaysian Food Festival in town!