ARE YOU ‘INVITED’ FOR MOHINGA?
synonymous with Burma (or Myanmar as the ruling junta calls it), the
ubiquitous Mohinga is one of the most popular dishes in this Southeast
Asian country. For most Burmese, eating Mohinga is a ritual. Breakfast
is incomplete without a plate of Mohinga and a cup of tea.
is in fact a part of Burmese Buddhist culture as Mohinga is the most
common dish served at a variety of occasions from weddings, birthdays
and novitiation ceremonies to funerals. While the wellto- do may opt
for rice-and-chicken curry, biriyani or western - style fastfood, the
majority with shallow pockets invariably find Mohinga the best option
for it is inexpensive and well-received.
is the main item but there are other ingredients to a nice
mouthwatering bowl of Mohinga. At a glance, it is rice noodle in
catfish chowder infused with lemongrass and galangal with various
toppings such as boiled eggs, fried featherback fish cake (nga hpe) and
vegetable fritters (akyaw).
noodles are similar to the fermented rice noodles known in Thailand as
khanom jeen. In Burma they call them – mont, and the broth fortified
with ground fish, onions and the soft pith from the innermost stalks of
the banana tree is known as – hinga. Hence the name Mohinga.
general run-of-the-mill recipe will include rice noodles, freshwater
catfish , fish or prawn sauce, lemon grass, sliced tender core of
banana-stem, ginger, garlic, pepper, onion, turmeric powder, rice
flour, dahl (Indian split-beans) powder, dried chilli powder, and
method of cooking the broth, however, differs from one locality to
another and each reputable shop has its own secret recipe and its own
Mohinga fans. Some like it delta-style, that is, with a sprinkle of hot
pepper and chilli powder .
prefer it mild and thin. Whatever the style, for most Burmese ,Mohinga
is a way of life. But then they are wary of Mohinga that appears in the
‘catch phrase’, You are invited for Mohinga. Literally, it means you
are asked to report for volunteer work – to contribute labour, take
part in such activities as the junta-sponsored anti-democracy protests,
like it or not.
most Burmese struggling to make ends meet the popular cuisine may not
taste as good as it used to be. The quality of Mohinga now reflects the
economic chaos under the repressive military regime. Hopefully, with a
genuine change in regime and democratic reforms, there will be a
resurgence of truly tasty Mohinga and Burmese cuisine.