In Burma, biryani (dan pauk) is king. It’s the Burmese equivalent of McDonald’s in America. Yangon, the country’s biggest city, is literally is dotted with biryani shops dominated by a few famous chains, among them Kyet Shar Soon (ကြက်လျှာစွန်း), Nilar (နီလာ), and Shwe Nyaung Bin (ရွှေညောင်ပင်). Sadly, I only had biryani once during the trip, at the downtown branch of Nilar.
Making dan pauk (ဒံပေါက်) is a very arduous process that normal people can’t undertake everyday. My mom doesn’t even know how to make dan pauk by scratch and instead resorts to ready-made spice mixes (bought in Artesia’s Little India) or calls up Dan Pauk Mg Mg, a Burmese Indian guy renowned in the community for his biryani. (He’s the nephew of the founder of Burma’s largest biryani chain). I think Indians know their stuff when it comes to cooking biryani. They make the best sweetmeats too!
Unfortunately, by the time we got there, the mutton biryani, hseik-tha dan pauk (ဆိပ်သားဒံပေါက်) had run out so all of us settled for chicken biryani, which is still good and generously sized, for $2 USD a plate. The chicken was tender, almost fat free (not like the hormone-infested American chickens), and very flavorful. As with all heavy meals, the biryani came with side dishes including roselle leaf soup (very sour, might I add), fried chili paste and cabbage zested in lemon juice. All of these are given to balance out the richness of the oil-laden biryani.
In America, my mom tends to be the quieter one outside the home, but in Burma, she’s a completely different person. Without any language barriers, she and my auntie were able to convince the owner to give us durian ice cream for free. I love durian! 🙂
Address: No. 216, Anawrahta Street, Pabedan Township, Yangon