Burmese Chickpea Tofu | and other stories.

To be honest with you, at present I have THREE different drafts for posts in my sidebar all titled something along the lines of Burmese Tofu… I suppose here we finally go!

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The first time I ever tried Burmese Tofu was on set. Me and Heidi riding our bicycles around the big lake of Inle in central Myanmar, passing through countryside schools and, as pictured above, fields with tiny yellow flowers as far as the eye could see. Our aim with said rented bicycles was to reach a place that served this particular tofu.

Now what differs Burmese, or Shan, Tofu from its world-renowned cousin, is that it is made with chickpea flour rather than from soybeans. This makes for a creamier yet delicate texture, not too far from silken tofu; and is also a perfect alternative for those not wishing to get on the soy bandwagon. Furthermore, it is ridiculously easy to make!

You might also like: Yangon Photo Diary.

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BURMESE CHICKPEA TOFU

• 4 dl chickpea flour (also goes under the name garbanzo bean or gram flour)
• 8 dl water, divided
• a pinch of salt
• ½ tsp ground turmeric powder

Start by bringing half the amount of water to a boil in a medium sized pot. Meanwhile, combine your flour, salt and turmeric in a seperate bowl and add in the same amount of water as flour. This will look a bit like pancake batter.
Once water is boiling, slowly pour your batter into the pan, whisking as you go along. The mixture should thicken almost instantly, but keep stirring for about 5 minutes before pouring into a prepared parchment paper lined tin.
Let cool down in room temperature, then leave to set in fridge for a couple of hours before cutting.

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You can use chickpea tofu just as you would soy tofu; in salads, stir fry's, scrambled, top of salads... For this I made a mega bowl of rice, mango, avocado, coriander and carrot; topped withthis dressing with added peanut butter + ginger, and finally some cubes of burmese tofu that I quickly marinated with some soy sauce and sesame oil.

This post is my last minute-contribution to Månadens Gröna, hosted through February by Annie/Vegokäk with the theme legumes.

Mandalay (or 'temples that sparkle and garage comedy')

Heidi and I had reached our final stop of beautiful Myanmar - big city Mandalay.

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As we were visiting one of the main central temple sites one day (where I happen to fall severely in love with the sunstallations^ -- look at that beauty!) we meet a local man who offered to take us around town on a bike tour the next day.

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Said and done, the next day we meet up on said spot and said time to begin our day tour. But first: A stop for our guide to stock up on chewing tobacco. I decide to buy some for myself... Now that turned out to be totally throwing money in the lake, as the Swedes would say. I was excited to see whether my spit would turn red, but I never made it that far. I spat it out after a few seconds. I think I'll just stick to snus in the future.

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We went to a beautiful Buddhist temple. Up steep hills. Then recovered with a coffee break on the temple grounds before cycling back to the city.

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The next morning we were up before the sun. On the back of a motorbike we hung on for dear life behind a Burmese taxi driver that brought us out to the U Bien Bridge, only the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world. We were hoping to see the monks crossover to collect alms as the sun rose, but nothing happened. It was a beautiful sight nonetheless. I love to experience any sunrise.

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I remember when I took this photo., ever the fan of so-called sunffiti, I wanted to capture how the temple decor was creating decoration on its own. Suddenly fellow surrounding tourists turn their cameras the same direction, as if I were taking a photo of a crucial part of the temple that they simply had to have on their memory cards too. When in reality, it's just a shadow play.

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Friday afternoon meant beer Mandalay and cigarettes, before going to see the comedy show of The Moustache Brothers. The original trio have made themselves known for their satirical critisism of the military regimen in the country. Their show has sent part of the group to jail, and now a days the remains of the group are only allowed to perform in front of foreigners, inside the garage of their family home.

One of the jokes I can recall is about having to go to the dentist in Thailand and it goes something like:

"Why don't you go to the dentist in your own country?" 

"Because I'm not allowed to open my mouth!"

Inle lake.

From Bagan we came to Myanmar's second largest lake - Inle. Cold and windy in the Burmese winter, we seeked shelter indoors; drinking avocado lassi's until our bellies ached and tap beer as the only women at the local pub.

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The compulsory thing to do as a tourist is of course to cross the lake! The Burmese fishermen have a very special technique of using their feet to row.

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We were floating by floating gardens... ... a range of handcraft workshops...

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... a range of handcraft workshops...

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... and some ladies rolling cigarettes; using a mix of tobacco, honey, tamarind, brown sugar, banana, alcohol, salt and aniseed. This lady we spoke to was très cool, posing in front of the camera with such a satisfied look on her face. Quality check.

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The business card of our boat driver. This is my #1 thing I love about this continent --> "you will happy".

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  Another day we spent on land. We went cycling, passing small schools and wide fields of tiny suns as pictured above - and eventually ending up in a small village where we tried To hpu, the Burmese version of Tofu, made from chickpea flour rather than of soy beans. Delicious.

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Coffee, guacamole and The World's Largest Cracker. Too big to fit into a standard instagram square. 

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And with these chillin' cows we say good bye Inle! < 3

BAGAN (+briefly on budget)

Just as you think you've survived the worst of possible bus ride scenarios (I mean, by now we had covered the emergency diarrhea, the tyre-exploding in the middle of nowhere, the 26hrs full volume non-stop Lao karaoke and the top bunk in a Vietnamese over night bus) This one, from Yangon to Bagan, takes the prize.

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I had actually read that the AC is sometimes an issue on the Burmese buses, but packing two double layered sweaters in the hand luggage seemed like over-doing it. I mean, we are in South East Asia after all. So I figured one sweater would do. Silly me. (At least that's better than a certain Finnish lady who entered the bus wearing a thin dress and a cardigan.)

So the bus starts rolling and quite immediately we realize that Oh dear, we should have brought more clothes. When the AC goes on, I don't think I have ever been so cold in my life. I mean, -30 in the Swedish winter seems humble in comparison to this. Sitting straight under the fan. The full speed fan. That is non-stoppable despite the "push the curtain inside it"-trick à la middle school bus trips. At the mid-way stop I manage to, via charades, ask the bus driver whether we can have "some things" (oh, you know, just half our packing) from our bags. Luckily, we can and we also have some warming Mohinga and comforting cigarettes at the roadside restaurant.

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When we arrive in Bagan it's still pitch dark. We await dawn whilst having hot chocolate at the bus station. A local strikes up conversation and is later on kind enough to offer us a lift to our guesthouse. (This time we have used a landline phone to book in advance. Not making the same mistake as in Yangon!)  Our room is yet not ready for check-in, so as the morning sun approaches, we climb up one of the many temple sites and watch hot air balloons lift from the ground with a bunch of strangers.

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The days to follow we spend pedaling around on those sand covered roads on our no gear bikes (quite the work out I tell you!). It struck me how familiar it was. Or was, rather how familiar it smelt. It smelt just like a late summer's night in Sweden. Come to think of it, this was probably the freshest air we had been breathing for months.

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Time was short when we were in Myanmar. Unfortunately. As we had read online before going the prices weren't really within the means of our budget, especially not after we both had decided to go to Australia on a Working Holiday. So we had a total of 12 days in the country, covering The Big 4 of the tourist essentials (Bagan, Yangon, Mandalay and Inle Lake.)

To clarify: In terms of accommodation; yes, Myanmar is a lot more expensive than your average SEA backpacker accommodation. However, I feel it evened out in terms of food and transportation prices. On average we spent about 15'000 kyat a day, and that includes all food, drinks, buses, bike rentals and the occasional (ok, quite a bit of) beer and cigarettes. 15'000 kyat is about 12 euros and you could definitely do it a lot cheaper than that.