Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sanwin Makin - A Little Bit Of Burma



Senwei mekei or senway mackay - that's how my friend's family, where I was introduced to a selection of food from Myanmar/Burma, used to pronounce it. Years later, when the Internet came to India I would type in those words and get nowhere. I don't remember how I finally found out - maybe I searched for 'Burmese dessert with coconut milk' or something like that, maybe my friend told me- but I realised it was spelt 'sanwin makin'. I think I tried it once before and failed, or maybe I haven't - I'm not remembering a lot of things right at the beginning of this post! But that aside, when my friend's mother made it, it would look so lovely. It was a translucent brown, and puddingy, rather like a China Grass dessert than like cake. Aunty would set it in a plate, cut it into diamonds and sprinkle poppy seed over it.

As a student of marketing strategy for the last 15 years, I have picked up some jargon from the field, including the words 'pull' and 'push'. They mean one thing in marketing but in this post, they mean quite something else! Sometimes the pull of a memory is so strong that it's almost a physical sensation, but this is not why I attempted this dessert. It was push - I needed to push out some brown semolina (brown sooji/godhuma rava - I had the fine variety) from my kitchen. A good way to exhaust it is to find things to make with it other than upma with vegetables, which seems to be the most common use for it. You can use ordinary white sooji/semolina.

Then I did something that marketers, especially retailers, are unhappy about. When I went to look for the coconut milk cartons that I usually buy, I saw that they were dated April. And this was September. I scrabbled further into the dark recesses of the shelf and found some packed in July. I took all half a dozen of them and paid for them. (One retailer actually protested when I said I always look for the most recently packed ones - he said I had a duty to pick up the oldest ones which were at the front because if everyone did what I did, the old ones wouldn't sell. Well, I'm not having any of that!)

I had been looking at various recipes for sanwin makin and finally followed this. It was like making a rawa porridge with coconut milk, adding the eggs after the mixture had cooled and then baking it. There were two differences from the original method: I used coconut milk instead of coconut cream and I did not manage to separate the eggs as the whites and yellows just plopped into the bowl one after the other. I ended up beating them and adding them to the pan after it had cooled, at Step 4. For about 25 minutes after I put it in the oven, it stayed flat. Then it rose gloriously.


Then it went back to normal after a while, and came out as a dense cake, moist, mildly sweet and even mildly coconutty - that was because I used coconut milk instead of coconut cream, I suppose. It was a hit at work, and someone who was on a strict diet and had lost 8 kg took it home because it was only mildly sweet.


9 comments:

  1. Hey, i too look at the back of shelves for the most recently packed ones! No retailer protested yet, coz i do it in secret ;-)
    I wish i was as enterprising as you at pushing old stock, i think i too have a half packet of year old brown semolina somewhere in my kitchen that's probably not fit for eating anymore. But i love your first two pics so much that i want to buy some more and make this.
    ps: i did push some really old stock of black urad and made dal makhani for the first time yesterday. so yay for me!!

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  2. Actually, La, the person who said this was a retail management expert whom I met, but whatever, I never listened to him. For the first time in years and years, my pantry is looking a little slimmer than before. It's quite an achievement. But I have a long, long way to go.
    Sometimes if the stock is too old, the dish won't turn out well. I learnt that lesson with naan when I used some old maida.
    I must clarify - you can use ordinary sooji/semolina, I just wanted to use up a little of the brown one I have.

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  3. I also look for goods at the back of the shelf. I also like another Burmese dish _ the know suey, there is a place in Khan Market , New Delhi that sells only this. Here too the base is coconut milk. Will give this one a try too

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    1. My friend's mom too would make khauk swe and several years later, my friend did too. I like it

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  4. I always look for the stuff in back of the shelf first for the fresher stock . I realised this when I had to buy 2 packets of something and one was priced different than the other.

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    1. Usually the fresh one is priced higher, right? I've noticed that too.

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  5. Looks lovely! Happy Diwali to you Sra.

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    1. Thanks, ET! Hope you had fun during the festival!

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  6. woww awesome one...I recipe that you have used and mentioned in the post seems to be interesting but i hope after following the same i can make it out as the same as you have made....

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