ALMOST everywhere you go in
These street vendors are preparing bu thee gyaw or crispy gourd fritters, a popular
The dish consists of gourd strips dipped in a rice flour batter and deep-fried in smoking-hot oil.
This snack is most frequently sold on the street, at intersections, bus stops and markets, but can also be ordered in restaurants.
By far the most authentic way to enjoy this snack, however, is at small roadside teashops that are found all over
While waiting for the oil to heat, the vendor prepares the fritters. A young tender gourd is cut into finger-like strips before being soaked in the batter. When wisps of smoke start to rise from the surface of the oil, the gourd fingers are dropped in and are not taken out until they turn golden brown.
Small tables nearby bear a couple of tea cups, a pot of plain tea, a plate of lettuce, coriander leaves, and a small dish of sauce. Low stools stand around the tables waiting for customers to fill them.
The sauce served with bu thee gyaw is a concoction of hot chilli pulp, garlic and tamarind juice.
While you wait for your snack to be prepared you can drink tea, which is on the house, and watch the gourd fritters swimming in the oil while the fire underneath crackles and blazes.
At last the bu thee gyaw come out of the sizzling oil and are placed on your table. They are usually eaten with lettuce, coriander leaves and the spicy chilli, garlic and tamarind sauce, with hot tea as a chaser.
For lazy cooks, it is a great makeshift meal. You dip a bite-sized fritter in the sauce, add a morsel of steamed rice and top it with a lettuce leaf for a complete meal. It also makes an easy, quick and cheap appetiser for those times when guests drop by unexpectedly.
So some people say “At least once a week we cannot help eating bu thee gyaw”.
This simple food was even the preferred snack of the
If you would like to try making your own gourd fritters, here's the recipe:
one large young gourd
200 grams of rice flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sodium bicarbonate
½ litre water
½ litre oil for frying
Slice the gourd into thin fingers. Mix the rice flour, salt, sodium bicarbonate and water to make a runny batter. Heat the oil. Once the oil starts to smoke, dip the gourd fingers into the batter and fry until golden brown. And then, enjoy!