Burmese cuisine is a very aromatic cuisine that combines the flavors of the delicious cuisines of Thailand, China and India. Regional cuisines are also based on the cuisines of the numerous different ethnic groups that populate the country.
Burmese cuisine is still relatively unknown but if you are familiar with the delicious Thai dishes, the aromas of Indian curries and the diversity of the fragrances of Chinese cuisine, then you can imagine what Burmese cuisine can offer in terms of new flavors that will satisfy the palate of both amateur and sophisticated foodies.
But before we talk about sanwin makin, I first wanted to bring a smile to your kitchen in addition to the light which is celebrated during this month’s festival!
As I mentioned to you when I presented my crying tiger beef, Thailand is known as the “land of smiles” but it is not the only country known for its smile. Burma is also known as “the land of smiles and generosity”. Burmese people not only smile with their mouth, but also with their heart and it seems that even if you do not understand Burmese, you should not have a problem communicating in Myanmar for their smile is a universal language.
But let’s go back to our sanwin makin.
In the most traditional sanwin makin recipe, which is the one I chose to prepare today, you will find lots of Indian ingredients and flavors such as cardamom, ghee (clarified butter) and semolina, which are used in many Indian sweets.
Sanwin makin is prepared by boiling the coconut cream, semolina and sugar to obtain a thick dough. Eggs are then incorporated to aerate the mixture before it is baked. Unlike Indian kesari that Mike prepared for his epicurean friends, and which is cooked on a stove, sanwin makin is first cooked on a stove before being baked in an oven.
Coconut cream is what gives this dessert its distinct strong coconut flavor. Some people add raisins and/or nuts to the recipe but these are not necessary in the most authentic recipes. Sanwin makin is usually topped with sesame or poppy seeds.
In Burma, semolina is also called shwe kyi, which is why the cake is also known as shwe kyi cake.
Semolina is the purified wheat middlings made from durum wheat. It is available in fine, medium and coarse versions.
Semolina is the stage between grain and flour. The most common is wheat semolina but there are other types with various names. For example, rice flour, or even cornmeal which is used to make polenta. There is also a buckwheat version known in Central Europe and Eastern Europe as kasha.
I was born and I grew up in Morocco, a country that we will soon travel to on 196 flavors. Semolina rocked my childhood and I am a huge fan. I am not just talking about couscous (which is prepared by mixing 2 parts semolina with 1 part durum flour) but I am also talking about many semolina-based recipes. At our house, homemade bread was prepared two or three times a week. We often prepared our bread in a similar fashion to kesra from Algeria and we called it harcha in Morocco. Mike recently teased my tastebuds when he announced he would be making beghrir, a semolina pancake known as “thousand holes pancakes” for his upcoming Moroccan cooking class.
Burmese people recommend eating sanwin makin cold or warm. Some even recommend waiting until the next day to eat it very cold.
Personally, I liked it hot!
- 1 cup fine semolina
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 3 cups coconut cream
- 4 tablespoons clarified butter (or unsalted butter), melted
- 4 eggs
- 1 pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 tablespoons golden sesame seeds
- Baking dish (12x8 inches/30x20cm)
Preheat oven to 320F/160C.
In a large nonstick saucepan, mix the semolina with the coconut cream by adding coconut cream one cup (250ml) at a time and stirring well while incorporating.
- Add the caster sugar and continue stirring.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
- When the mixture begins to thicken, add the butter and mix well.
- Stop cooking when the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan. Add salt, ground cardamom and mix.
- Separate the whites from the egg yolks.
- Stir the yolks in the preparation, one by one, mixing well after adding each yolk.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff and gently incorporate them into the preparation.
- Pour into a baking pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds right out of the oven.
- Sanwin makin can be unmolded and eaten warm or cold. Cut into diamond shapes before serving.