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Beyond khow suey


Gurgaon’s new Burmese restaurant celebrates the complexities of the flavours the country is known for, while steering clear of the meats, writes Avantika Bhuyan.

Mention Burmese cuisine and what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Khow suey, of course. But there is a lot more to the cuisine of this land of pagodas than that. And it is to explore the diversity of this fare that one heads to the newly opened Burma Burma at DLF Cyber Hub in Gurgaon. The one question that nudges the mind is: can an all-vegetarian menu, devoid of the signature mohinga and sanpyoke, be representative of a cuisine that teems with fragrant broths full of freshwater fish and meats? The carnivore in me is slightly sceptical.

The decor of this tea house-like space is cheerful. Vibrant Burmese lyongis, with bright batik patterns and traditionally woven acheiq or zigzags, adorn the sofas, while huge bells, akin to the ones that hang outside the pagodas, beam down from the ceiling. Ankit Gupta started this restaurant in 2014 in Mumbai along with his childhood friend, Chirag Chhajer, to offer a taste of a cuisine that was such an integral part of his growing-up years.

“My mother grew up in Myanmar and she has a collection of amazing recipes,” says Gupta, who belongs to a lineage of hote-liers and restaurateurs. Knowing that the Indian palate might not be able to savour the pungent smells fermented fish and shrimp paste, used so avidly by most Burmese communities, Gupta decided to do away with the non-veg dishes altogether. “We were very clear that we didn’t want to Indianise the dishes. What you get is as authentic as it can get,” he adds.

Due to its location in the southeast Asian heartland, Myanmar’s cuisine carries influences from China, India and Thailand. This diversity comes together in the soup, Samuza Hincho, featuring our very own samosa served in a tangy broth. The crispiness of the samosa perfectly complements the spiciness of the soup. In stark contrast is the Mone Kyar Yoe Hin’or pickled mustard green and lotus stem soup which rests very light on the palate.

The staff guides you through the menu, most of which one has never sampled before. I am told that the tea leaf salad — a mix of fermented tea leaves, fried garlic, nuts, sesame seeds, tomato and lettuce — is something that the Burmese eat through the day and it has become a signature at the restaurant. However, more than that, it’s the Tayat Thi Thoke or raw mango shreds mixed with roasted red chillies, crushed peanuts and brown onion that emerges as a winner for its play of sweet tangy flavours.

The Burmese make avid use of chickpea and Bengal gram in their food, be it in the Burmese paratha or the salads. One can sample a taste of that in the delicious stir-fry of Tohu Kyaw or chickpea tohu tossed in chilli tamarind sauce.

The scooped-out potatoes filled with crushed brown onion, peanuts, roasted chilli and topped with sour coconut cream are average. But it’s the brown onion and roasted chilli steamed bun that becomes an instant favourite for its soft spongy exterior and lovely caramelised filling. Next up is the Ono khow suey – ono means coconut and khow suey stands for noodles. It is like comfort in a bowl. There are umpteen versions of the khow suey here with tomato gravies and light broths. In fact, come winter and the team will start a khow suey takeaway counter.

The chilled coconut custard with caramelised pineapple and the mango cheesecake sweetly round up the meal. So, does the meal silence the sceptic in me? Yes, it does. And surprisingly, one does-n’t miss the meats at all. Most meals are light on the palate and yet convey the complexity of flavours that Myanmar is known for.

Source: Business Standard

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