Thursday, November 8, 2012

Around the world - Stopover 21 - Myanmar (Burma)

Burmese cuisine draws it's influences from the neighbouring countries of India, China and Thailand. Burmese food is not entirely new to me as we used to eat at a Thai/Burmese restaurant years ago. Our favourite dishes were always Burmese curries (I posted a recipe for one earlier this year) which tastes like a combination of Thai and Indian food. Although Burmese curries are lovely, I wanted to try something different which wasn't difficult as I found plenty of dishes that sounded really good.

After I posted about making tofu a few weeks ago, Mandee commented that she wanted to try making chickpea tofu. Up until then I hadn't heard of chickpea tofu and discovered that it was a traditional Burmese recipe which originated from a fusion of Chinese styled tofu with Indian chickpea flour (besan). When Burma was drawn next I had to give it a try!

I looked up a few recipes, one of them seemed just as involved as the soy-based tofu making process and another on BestOodles sounded quick and easy so I referred to the latter. It was simply a matter of bringing water to the boil with some margarine and whisking through a slurry made with chickpea flour, water, turmeric, salt and sugar. About 5 minutes later, the mixture becomes incredibly thick and difficult to stir. After spooning it into a greased dish/tin the chickpea tofu is refrigerated for 4 hours, then it is ready to use.

BestOodles also listed a recipe for a Burmese tofu salad which contained a couple of fishy ingredients so I made a few changes to the dressing and the garnish. The recipe also included tamarind juice which sounded like a bit of a process to make from scratch so I subbed in tamarind puree in it's place. This was another simple dish which required a bit of chopping, mixing the dressing and putting it all together at the end. The dressing was very spicy although it really makes the dish and if you choose to serve it individually, you can go as crazy (or not) with the dressing as you like.

World Vegan Feast by Bryanna Clark Grogan contained one Burmese recipe which was a dal with roasted cauliflower. I adore dals especially when they have an added vegetable so I had to give it a go. This also came together pretty easily, while the lentils were simmering, the onion, garlic and spices were fried and the cauliflower was roasted in the oven. The dal was lovely, it contained a decent amount of spices and I enjoyed the addition of roasted cauliflower.

I'm not usually the biggest salad lover but the Burmese salad was the stand-out dish of the night. The texture of the chickpea tofu was fairly soft and probably fell somewhere in between silken and firm tofu. Chickpea tofu is also commonly fried so I'm planning to put this to the test with the remaining half of the batch.

Burmese tofu - Shan tohu (Adapted from BestOodles)

4 cups water, divided
1 tablespoon dairy free margarine
1 ½ cups chickpea flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon turmeric

Bring a pot containing 2 ½ cups of water and the margarine to the boil. Whisk together the chickpea flour, 1 ½ cups water, salt, sugar and turmeric in a bowl. Whisk the chickpea flour slurry through the boiling water, reduce the heat to low and continue to stir for about 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes very thick.

Pour the mixture into a 20 x 20cm greased glass dish or baking tray. Tap the dish on the surface of your bench to remove air bubbles and smooth out the top with a knife or the back of a spoon. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 4 hours. Use within one week of making.

Burmese salad - Tophu thohk (Adapted from BestOodles)

2 tablespoons chilli oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons Thai thin soy sauce
2 tablespoons tamarind puree
2 small cloves garlic, minced
½ small cabbage, finely shredded
4 spring onions, finely sliced
fresh coriander sprigs
½ quantity Burmese tofu, sliced
fried shallots, for garnish
shredded nori or dulse flakes, for garnish (optional)

Whisk together chilli oil, sesame oil, Thai thin soy sauce, tamarind puree and garlic in a small bowl. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage and spring onions together.

Arrange the cabbage and spring onions on serving plates followed by a couple of sprigs of coriander and some slices of Burmese tofu. Drizzle some of the chilli, sesame, soy sauce and tamarind dressing over the top. Garnish with fried shallots and nori or dulse flakes if desired.


Did you know?

Burma is technologically behind the rest of the developed nations. Up until two months ago there were no ATMs, there is a limited mobile phone network, internet access is scarce, and people commonly use a horse and cart for transportation.


  1. I don't know so much about Korea being technologically behind the rest of the developed nations...they sound more like the Amish! ;) I found out about chickpea tofu last year and tried to find a recipe for it and now I have one! Looks like I am going to have to have a go at making it now. Cheers for posting it :)

    1. Thanks for stopping by narf77, I hope you enjoy the chickpea tofu!

  2. Gosh, you've gone from making your own tofu from scratch to preparing kinds of tofu I've never even heard of! I can definitely imagine this one being terrific fried - I've got my fingers crossed for you that it will hold together. :-)

    1. I'm really sorry that I didn't get the chance to fry it! After a week in the fridge I was planning to try this but when I cut the tofu it had some strange white spots which I suspect were mould. :( I need to make another batch soon...

    2. Oh, what a shame! Sounds like it's worth making again, though.

  3. I hadn't heard of chickpea tofu either, but I do love the idea. I like how it looks too and your overall meal for that matter. Very impressive Mel!

    1. It was a new concept for me until recently but I loved how easy it was to make and the resulting meal was wonderful.

  4. I love the presentation of your tofu salad. Looks delicious. I love besan and am very interested in this - I had heard of chickpea tofu ages ago but thought it would be really hard. I have seen recipes for chickpea chips which sounds a bit like frying this tofu - must check out some of these recipes to compare

    1. Thanks, I actually bookmarked a panisses (chickpea fries) recipe during MoFo and didn't realise when I made this that it's a fairly similar concept. I was pleasantly surprised with how simple the chickpea tofu was to prepare.

  5. More food travelling - love it!

    I'm fascinated by the chick pea tofu - I'd never even heard of it before. Really tempted to give it a go!

    1. I'm still loving it too, it's a bit like pretend travel for me. ;)

      You should give the chickpea tofu a try one day!

  6. That chickpea tofu sounds really interesting--I guess it's kind of like polenta that's chilled & then cooked? Definitely something to add to my to-make list!

    1. Yes, the method is a bit like polenta but I've never been much of a polenta fan as I find it a bit grainy. The chickpea tofu had a soft and smooth texture which I really enjoyed.

  7. I baked some of the batch I did (in cubes) and they turned into tofu puffs. The lot we had tonight I did in a fry pan as salt and pepper tofu. It has a different taste (due to the chick pea flour) but it is very nice.

    1. Hi Rachel, thanks for your feedback! It's always nice to know when people try things from the blog. :) The chickpea tofu does have a different taste to standard tofu but I reckon it's a good option for people with soy intolerances. I'll have to try a salt and pepper version one day too, that sounds really good!