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Burmese tofu kebat

A Kebat is a stir-fried dish usually served at home. The origins of the dish are clouded in mystery and some theories claim this is a Muslim dish that arose from grill cooking. along the way, the skewers were dropped and the dish took on a few more spices and ingredients. Today Kebat is a classic Burmese home dish that is barely seen in restaurants and this dish highlights the classic stir-fry cooking of Myanmar.

This is a very simple dish at its core. the tofu is first coated with the Kebat spice mix and shallow fried to infuse the flavour, and some texture, into the dish. The dish is then cooked again with onions, chillies and tomatoes. Simple and elegant and with delicate flavours, this is a lovely dish that will take a front seat on any Asian dinner. I like to serve a 2-inch piece as an appetizer during a curated meal, it serves to bring a simple bang of flavour in a simple style.

Burma Superstar is a fabulous restaurant, one that I have enjoyed many a meal at, and this recipe is no exception. The recipesre authentic, vibrant and delicious, it is literally like bringing the restaurant home. This is a wonderful cookbook for Burmese cuisine.

For more recipes from this wonderful cookbook, click here.

10 oz. extra-firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes

Kebat spice mix

2 + 2 tablespoons oil

1 cup onion, thinly sliced

4-5 garlic cloves, minced

3-4 green chillies, thinly sliced into rounds

1 tablespoon ginger paste

Salt, to taste

20 cherry tomatoes, halved horizontally

Cilantro leaves, minced, for garnish

For the Kebat spice mix:

3 green cardamom pods

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon peppercorns

1/4-inch piece cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Dry roast all the whole spices for the Kebat mix individually on a dry frying pan till aromatic and lightly toasted. Cool completely. Add all the spices to a spice mill and blitz to a smooth powder. Set aside.

Toss the tofu with half the Kebat spice mix. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wide frying pan and fry the tofu on medium heat till it is browned and the outer skin has toughened. Remove and cool.

In the same pan, add more oil if needed. Add the onion and sauté for 1 minute till white but the onion still has some crunch. Add the garlic, green chillies, ginger and salt and cook for 1 more minute. Add the tomatoes and toss well. Add the fried tofu and cook gently till the tofu is heated through. Remove onto a shallow bowl and scatter the onions, chillies and tomatoes onto the tofu. garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.

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