I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say it again. My mom is an awesome cook. What I miss the most when I’m traveling is a good home-cooked meal, and whenever I go back to California to visit my family, I can always count on my mom to whip up my favorite Burmese dishes. Often times, it’s hard to get her to stop feeding me, but you know me. I can hardly complain, or resist, when there’s such great food sitting in front of me.
One of my favorite dishes that my mom cooks is a Burmese version of Indian chicken briyani, called dan bauk. It’s probably the most requested meal I ask my mom to make. The curry-spiced chicken, the aromatic basmati rice, the fresh mint leaves… it makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
I asked my mom for the recipe, which she happily obliged, probably thinking that her strange, wandering daughter was finally ready to settle down and start a more domesticated life. I just wanted to share her dan bauk recipe with my readers.
Ingredients: (serves 8)
- fresh mint leaves
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 chopped garlic clove
- 1/2 cup cooking oil
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoon curry powder
- 1/4 cup pure ghee (purified butter)
- red food coloring powder (optional)
For the rice:
- 4 cups of basmati rice, rinsed
- 2 cups of jasmine rice, rinsed
- 10 bay leaves
- 15 cardamon seeds
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 10 cloves
- 1 black cardamon seed
- 1 anise seed
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 9 cups of water (approximation; my mother uses her tried and true method – stick your index finger into the water until it gently touches the rice. The water should reach the first line of your finger)
- 8 chicken thighs (can be substituted with chicken breasts)
- 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine all the ingredients for the curried chicken and let marinate for at least three hours.
Combine all the ingredients for the rice in a rice cooker (make sure it’s big enough to cook at least 6 cups of rice) and push the cook button. Don’t forget to plug in the rice cooker; come on, we’ve all forgotten at one point or another.
In a large wok or skillet, heat up the oil. Add a dash of cumin and chopped onion, frying until the onion turns golden brown.
Add garlic and continue frying.
Add the chicken mixture into the wok, stirring occasionally.
When the chicken is cooked halfway, add water.
Allow the chicken to cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
When the chicken is done, mix in 1 tablespoon of curry powder. Cover and set aside.
Once the rice is done cooking, remove the bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, and cardamon seeds.
Mix in ghee and 1 tablespoon of curry powder.
Dip one end of a chopstick into the food coloring and poke through the surface of the rice. Repeat several times then mix lightly.
Serve rice and chicken with a fresh mint leaves.