|Spicy Shan Cauliflower and Carrot Pickle|
Pickling is in my blood. As you know, I'm Burmese, but Burma aka Myanmar is made up of over 100 ethnic groups. A large part of me is Shan, one of the more prominent of these ethnic groups, who primarily live in a rural, hilly region in Burma known as the Shan State.
Traditionally tall and fair, and cousins to the Dai people in Thailand, the Shan are rather fond of pickles (and noodles, and pork - often the three in combination).
|All manner of Shan pickles for sale in Mandalay|
The classic Shan pickle is mohnyin-tjin, but as wonderful as this is, it takes a little effort and patience to make (by patience, I mean at least a week, kimchi-style).
This recipe is for one of my favourite overnight pickles, using cauliflower and carrot, both of which are hard to come by in lower Burma, but plentiful in the Shan State.
Though of course carrots and cauliflowers aren't rare in the UK, you may not find the pickling spice Shan hnan ("Shan sesame") in this country - although if someone can look at the photo below and let me know if you can get it here and what it's called, that would be brilliant.
I find however that black mustard seed is an excellent substitute in terms of both texture and flavour.
|Shan hnan ("Shan sesame")|
The vinegar that's traditionally used is a sweetish by-product from palm toddy-making, but malt vinegar works well instead.
Shan Cauliflower and Carrot Pickle
Shan Hbun-Mohnlar Kar-Jet-Oo A Tchin
- 1 large cauliflower, broken into florets
- 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into thin half moons
- 1 heaped tbsp caster sugar
- Malt vinegar
- 1 inch knob of fresh ginger root, skin on
- 6 cloves of garlic, skin on
- Groundnut or other neutral oil
- 1 heaped tbsp chilli powder
- Large handful of black mustard seeds
Put the cauliflower and carrots in a large non-reactive bowl with the sugar and just enough vinegar to moisten ie as if you're dressing a salad.
Mix everything well, cover and leave overnight in the fridge.
|Carrots and cauliflower pickling in sugar and vinegar|
Remove the bowl of carrots and cauliflower from the fridge and have it ready next to the hob.
Chop the garlic and ginger roughly, leaving the skin on. Part of the flavour of this pickle comes from the skin - you can pick the bits out afterwards.
|Chopped garlic and ginger with the skin left on deliberately|
Heat a few millimetres depth of oil in a large frying pan on high till it sizzles, and add the ginger and garlic.
Fry for a minute, and then add the chilli powder and the mustard seeds and stir-fry for another minute.
|Garlic and ginger sizzling in hot oil|
At this point the seeds should start to pop and dance in the pan a little bit, and everything should smell fragrant.
Pick up the frying pan with both hands and pour the sizzling oil and all the bits in it onto the cauliflower and carrot.
|Mustard seeds popping in the hot oil|
Mix thoroughly to "cook" the pickled vegetables.
Your spicy Shan cauliflower and carrot pickle is immediately ready to eat. It will keep in a jar or sealed Tupperware for a couple of days, but then will lose its crunch.
This Shan pickle is traditionally eaten in Burma with noodles and rice, but it also works in sandwiches and with hot and cold meats.
Think of it as a type of piccalilli or relish - you can have it as part of a ploughman's lunch, with a pork pie, on a hot dog, in a burger ...
|Doesn't last long in my house|