Burma or officially Myanmar is on my travel list for the longest time. Unfortunately, it will be a while before I can make a trip there. In the meantime, I savour bits of Burma via their food. Recently, I was bestowed with Naomi Duguid’s Burma. I have yet to finish reading the (cook)book but I am quite taken by the pictures and the recipes. As Burma shares her border with China, India, Thailand and Bangladesh, Burmese cooking involves ingredients such as shallots, fish sauce, and limes that are familiar to those of us in Singapore. However, the preparation for some of the dishes is unique to Burma.
This mushroom and tomato curry is quite different from the usual curry that I’m more familiar with. For one, it does not contain coconut milk. And it is not drenched in thick gravy. In fact, it barely has any liquid in it. However this curry is definitely not lacking in the flavour department. This is one of the simplest curries that I ever prepared–I reckon it is easier to cook this curry than the ones made from instant pastes.
You can go the traditional route and serve the curry with rice. I had mine with udon noodles (Dugid also suggests pasta). The curry itself has layers of flavours–you will get the sweetness from the shallots, earthiness and meatiness from the mushrooms and a bit of tartness from the tomatoes. This is also a kid-friendly dish for the little ones who have yet to grow accustomed to chillies and spices.
Mushroom and tomato curry
(Adapted from Naomi Dugid’s Burma: Rivers of Flavor)
This is another great dish that you can bring to a party, just warm up before serving. You can also bulk up this curry by adding tofu, spinach and so on (not root vegetables though as they will not be cooked through).
Serves 2 as main and 4 as a side
3 tablespoons peanut oil (you can use vegetable oil too. If you are not a fan of oil, you can reduce to 2 tablespoons of oil (but no less than that))
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 cup thinly sliced shallots (I used around 6 shallots (around 90g) and I used the mandolin for slicing (remember to use the handguard!))
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
450g Portobello mushrooms* (you use oyster or king mushroom, whatever you can get your hands on)
100g Enoki mushrooms, chop the ends, separate (optional)
450g ripe tomatoes*(this is around 2 really big tomatoes or 3-4 medium-sized tomatoes)
1 teaspoon fish sauce (if you wish to keep this dish vegan, you can swap the fish sauce for soy sauce)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup water (optional)
A sprinkle of chilli flakes (optional)
In a medium-sized wok**, over a medium-high heat, add in the oil. Once the oil is heated, add in the turmeric powder. To test the temperature of the oil, throw in a tiny pinch of turmeric powder into the wok. If the powder starts to sizzle, the oil is heated. Using a wooden spoon, stir the powder until dissolved.
Once the turmeric powder is dissolved, add in the sliced shallots and lower the heat to medium. Keep stirring the shallots until they soften but are not brown. This will take around 4-5 minutes. You should get shiny yellow soft shallots. Once the shallots are soften, add in the chopped garlic and cook for a minute or so.
Increase the heat to high and add in the mushroom. Stir to incorporate the shallots, garlic and mushroom. While stir-frying, using the back of the spoon, press it against the mushrooms. This is to soften and force the liquid from the mushrooms. This will take around 5 minutes.
Once the mushrooms start to soften, add in the tomatoes and chilli flakes (if using). Let the mixture come to a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes. At this point, the tomatoes should start to soften and break down. If your tomatoes are not that ripe, you can use the back of the spoon and give them a good squash, and let it cook for a few more minutes. At this stage, you can choose to add in water. If you are like me, who loves more gravy, the water will help to push more liquid out from the mushrooms. If you are happy with the amount of sauce, you can skip the water.
Add in the fish sauce and salt and stir to incorporate. Taste and see if you need to add in more salt or fish sauce. Once you are happy with the taste, turn off the heat and serve hot with a bowl of rice or noodles.
*You can slice or chop your mushrooms and tomatoes. In my case, I mixed the preparation methods. For the mushrooms, I cut them into thick slices and also quarter them. For the tomatoes, I chop some of them and I quarter the rest. This way, you get different textures from the curry.
**If you do not have a wok, you can use a medium-sized frying pan. You need to squeeze all the mushrooms together in the pan. By crowding the mushrooms, you force out all the liquid.