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‘The Burma Cookbook’

‘The Burma Cookbook’

Whether you know it as colonial Burma or modern-but-ancient Myanmar, the Land of a Million Pagodas is ripe for adventure. Robert Carmack and Morrison Polkinghorne organise and host culinary tours to South-East Asia, but their heart belongs to Burma. Over 15 years, they delved into the region’s little known cuisine, intrigued by a culinary tradition that spans gilded ancient empire, Victorian tradition and tiffin, and vibrant regional specialities.

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The result is ‘The Burma Cookbook’, a collection of 175 recipes that journeys beyond the colonial memory into the Burma of forgotten kingdoms. Although styled with Edwardian splendour, ‘The Burma Cookbook’ focuses on recipes that are loved in the present, as well as in the past, from Burmese traditions and techniques to Scotch eggs and kedgeree, all with easy-to-follow instructions and a comprehensive glossary.

The cuisine of Burma is unique, infused with onion, garlic and ginger from flavoured oils and rarely employing the use of dry spice. India, China and Thailand have all influenced its culinary tradition, and for much of its colonial history, Burmese food was incorrectly seen as derived from Indian cuisine. Carmack and Polkinghorne’s guide redresses this misconception, lovingly detailing the preparations of rice and traditional desserts.

A cultural history of Burma weaves among the recipes, tied together with articles on tea houses, markets, etiquette and the famous pagodas, and enhanced with photographs of Burma, both past and present. Compiling the archival images alone is worthy of a book; scouring the country for recipes and stories as well makes ‘The Burma Cookbook’ a truly extraordinary addition to any food-lover’s bookshelf.