Htamane

The Htamane (glutinous rice) cooking festival is a traditional event in Myanmar that occurs around the Full Moon Day of the lunar month of Tabodwe. which usually falls in late January or early February. During the festival. glutinous rice is crushed and kneaded before it is mixed with other ingredients in huge iron vats using big paddles. The first portion of this delicacy is offered to Lord Buddha and Buddhist monks. while participants in the ceremony and onlookers share what is left over. In some areas of the country. a dobat (traditional drum music) troupe performs to encourage the htamane makers.

The tools required to make glutinous rice include a huge. wide-rimmed iron bowl. two long-handled stirring paddles. three bricks for the makeshift fireplace and firewood.

Ingredients
  • pyis (5 litres) glutinous rice
  • l viss (1.63 kilograms) peanut oil
  • I/2 grated coconut
  • 0.6 viss (I kg) peanuts (without husks)
  • Sliced ginger
  • Salt
Preparation

The glutinous rice is cleaned and soaked in water for about two hours. Meanwhile. a makeshift fireplace is built by placing the bricks in a triangle on a cleared plot of ground.The firewood is lit under the bricks and the large iron bowl is placed on top.

The peanut oil is then poured into the bowl and allowed to heat. The grated coconut is fried in the oil. with care taken not to overcook it. When the coconut is finished. it is removed from the bowl and the oil is drained from it. Then the peanuts and sliced ginger are fried. and the oil is drained from them as well. All the fried ingredients are placed on a plate and set aside. Half the cooking oil used to fry the ingredients is removed from the iron bowl and set aside. The soaked glutinous rice is placed into the iron bowl with the remaining cooking oil.

At this point. two strong young men wearing loincloths step forward with their paddles and begin kneading. crushing and stirring the htamane with great vigour. encouraged by the shouts and cheers of onlookers. Salt is sprinkled over the rice during this process. which is overseen by the head chef. who directs the men with the paddles to ensure that the rice is well-crushed and the oil and salt are spread throughout the mixture.

After about 30 minutes of stirring. most of the fried coconut. peanuts and ginger are added to the mix. However. a small amount of the fried ingredients is kept to the side to be sprinkled over the htamane before eating. When the glutinous rice has been thoroughly mixed and cooked. the giant iron bowl is removed from the fire. The big lump of htamane is placed on a wood or metal tray covered with banana leaves that have been rubbed with edible oil. and allowed to cool. Then the delicacy is served on the banana leaves and enjoyed by all.

Meanwhile. the festivities are continued by placing the iron bowl back on the fire so that the next team of cooks and stirrers can make a new batch.

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