I say, Cow Sway!

My list of top 5 all-time favourite foods includes only one firangi dish.  The rest are all desi, mostly aamchi a.k.a konkani preparations, lovingly made at home by my mother. I won’t go into what all those are as this blog is meant to be about the firangi one, but you can be assured that Rajma Chawal (or as my cousins and I used to chant ‘…rice-dahi-rajma, rice-dahi-rajma…’ as we pigged out on it as kids..absolute gluttons we were) easily tops the list.

I’m referring to Khow Suey, a Burmese delicacy that’s a one-pot noodle-soup wonder! I vividly remember the second time I ate Khow Suey with all the works (the first time I was too little to remember anything)….my stomach experienced gastronomic nirvana! The year was 2003. Our boisterous college gang was over at our friend Divya’s Gurgaon home.  Who says gossip & endless giggling doesn’t work up an appetite. There we were at the dining table when lunch was announced. Silence fell over as we gazed upon the spread. Divya’s mother had made Khow Suey and it was the tastiest meal, replete with silky noodles, succulent vegetables in a smooth, creamy coconut milk-based curry and a rich assortment of the choicest garnishings! Bookmarked as it clearly was in this foodie’s memory, I was compelled by forces beyond my control (read: a nagging stomach) to write to Divya after all these years and fervently request her to ask Aunty for the recipe.  Both of them obliged….words cannot express my gratitude.

This is how Aunty’s recipe reads….

To begin, you will need…

200 g noodles
1.5 cups chopped vegetables (french beans, carrots, cauliflower, peas… I’m biased towards broccoli as it’s one of the surest ways to
lower your risk of almost all cancers)
10 cloves garlic
1 inch piece of ginger
1 finely chopped onion
4 tsp dhaniya seeds
2 tsp jeera seeds
12 red whole kashmiri chillies
1 finely chopped onion
2 chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp oil
3 tetrapacks of coconut milk
4 level tbsp besan
2 tsp tamarind paste
Salt to taste

(Will come to the garnishing later, it’s my favourite part of the meal)

1. First, boil 200 gms noodles and keep aside.
2. Also, boil one and half  cups of the vegetables separately and keep them aside too
3. Next, grind the garlic, ginger, dhaniya & jeera seeds and kashmiri chillies to a paste and keep aside.
4. In a kadai, heat 3 tablespoons of oil and add a finely chopped onion.  Let it cook for 3 mins and then add in the ground paste.  Fry it for another 3 mins before adding the chopped tomatoes. Cook this till the tomatoes turn soft.
5. You need to keep this aside and cool it down to room temperature before blending it in your mixer to make a smooth paste.
6. Put it back on a lit stove and add in the coconut milk, besan (make sure these are 4 level tablespoons) , boiled vegetables and tamarind paste.  Add salt and cook on for 15 mins. To get the consistency right, you could add some water
Khow Suey is almost ready.

Noodles+ Veggies in coconut curry + toppings = Khow Suey

To serve, put a helping of the noodles in individual bowls and pour the gravy generously over the noodles.  But hold it, put yr spoon down. You can’t eat this without the garnishing, that in my opinion would be an absolute injustice. It’s also what adds a customised element to the whole affair, making it all the more delightful.

You can add some or a sum of all these toppings:  Chopped spring onions, fried onions, red chilli flakes, finely chopped cucumber, coriander leaves. Divya’s mother also served good ol’ Sev as another topping (I’m sure the Burmese would salute this Indian improvisation).  All these garnishings compliment the curry beautifully. For me, it’s the slices of  hard-boiled eggs that take the Khow Suey to a whole new level. Don’t forget to add a dash of lime.  The tangier the better! Dig in!

Some trivia as you savour your bowl: Khow Suey means noodles in Burmese, or more literally “fold pull” i.e. a method of making noodles. Given that the dish travelled to Burma’s neighbouring countries like Laos, Thailand and India thanks to migrants during World War II, it took on many forms, flavours, spellings and pronounciations. The original khao swè.  Khao soi. Khao sway. Khauk swe. Khaot swe. And my favourite Cow Sway! ‘Moo’t point, eh? Ha ha..
(A big thank you to Divya’s mother for sharing her recipe and spreading the joy)
(All the pictures are courtesy, my friend, Google)

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bani
    Sep 24, 2011 @ 23:30:14

    oh my god namz-You’re on a roll! Khaw Suey is fancy stuff and I love it too! I might be inspired to try it out sometime soon:-)


  2. Ravindra
    Sep 25, 2011 @ 15:27:02

    Very well written and sounds great ! Thanks !


  3. Divya
    Sep 27, 2011 @ 17:46:37

    What a great read Namz!!! Though technically i deserve no credit, happy to see my name repeatedly in the blog 🙂


  4. madhumita
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 09:31:39

    wowww!!! I am home and going to make it one of these days! thanks for the recipe!!!


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