Not a foodies guide to Manipur

I wasn’t there long enough to find the best places to eat. With the curfew, we had to be back at the guest house at dusk (5pm in January) for security reasons, so evening dining was out of the question. There was one fast food restaurant which looked like it had been sponsored by an American church group, which served western meals – burgers, fruit smoothies, chipped potatoes. Manipur is a dry state, so no wine or beer with your meals, either.

Here is a scene at the market in CCpur. Mystery meat on sale, with dog looking on wistfully. He hasn’t a hope.

Making a special dosa (rice flour pancake) during Pongal celebrations.

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Steaming rice cakes called “idlis”

The markets contained some excellent fresh vegetables. Look at the size of those brocoli. I didn’t feel confident enough to sample the mussels, though.

I am not sure that naming an establishment “Three Star Hotel” will pull in the punters. The saloon doesn’t serve alcohol, but you can check out the poultry hanging outside the kitchen area.

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Or you could try your luck at this interesting restaurant.

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This is how you make stuffed parathas. Take a ball of dough, make an impression using your thumb and fill it with spicy potato and coriander. Fold it back up, then flap it back and forth between your hands to make a thick pancake which is fried. Delicious.

This is a plain breakfast paratha, with spicy relish on the side, eaten for breakfast in the clinic, accompanied by sweet masala chai.

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Some road side snacks – eat on the pavement. No one could tell me what the green sludge was in the large pot – Burmese tea leaf salad? There is rice stew, offal stew with lungs, aorta, liver and other stuff requiring a veterinary anatomy degree to decipher and finally, black pudding sausages. These were very tasty indeed.

You could cook your own food, of course. Here is a row of indeterminate chunks of meat hanging on hooks at a butcher’s shop. The easy way to pluck a chicken (“ploat” is what I wrote at first. Is it a real word, or is it just Geordie slang?) quickly, using a blow torch. It also gets the cooking process started, I suppose.

For snacks, you can buy fried strands of dough. And for dessert, there’s always candy floss (cotton candy). With chillies.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Three

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French cheroute, ultimately from Tamil curruṭṭu, from curi, to be spiral.

This lady was having a smoke following a wedding in a village just outside Mandalay, Myanmar.
Photograph taken in January 2013.

Myawaddy Market

These photographs were taken when I had to renew my Thai visa in January by walking over the Friendship Bridge to the small Burmese town of Myawaddy. You hand over your passport to a very friendly immigration officer, who will sign the entry and exit stamps so you can get back into Thailand for another 30 days. A snip at just US$10. It is always a good idea to look smart, be polite, chat about how poorly Manchester United are faring under Moyes and smile a lot. You can then step out of the airconditioned office into the Burmese sunshine and walk around the town for a few hours, before returning to Thailand. I went to the market and took some photographs:

One Direction promoting tamarind paste
One Direction promoting tamarind paste

I am not sure if One Direction are very popular in rural Myanmar. I doubt they are being paid royalties for this endorsement. Does Harry hanker after tamarind paste? We will probably never know.

Soap that washes whiter than white for the whole family.
Soap that washes whiter than white for the whole family.

Maybe I am being harsh. Perhaps the sun has bleached the skins of the family in the photograph.

Cute Rabbit, in lime green
Cute Rabbit, in lime green
Pink party dress
Pink party dress

Fancy frock
Fancy frock

How do you attract the ladies to your stall to buy clothing or material? Play Thai radio pop songs through loudspeakers? Or play your own chilled out guitar music, like this man?

Joe Strummer, in front of the latest Yangon fashions
Joe Strummer, in front of the latest Yangon fashions

Lunghis are wrap-around skirts used by both men and women. Men usually wear dark or solid colours; women favour more colourful designs and patterns.

Colourful lunghi material, on coathangers
Colourful lunghi material, on coathangers

While I was checking out the textiles, a troop of smiling children dressed in smart uniforms paraded past me.

The Children's Buddhist Association
The Children’s Buddhist Association

And if all this shopping makes you hungry, you can always stop for a Burmese tea leaf salad, sticky rice pudding and cakes, or slowly stewed pork, skin included.

Once you have bought your new glad rags, you can go clubbing in the capital. Here is a poster advertising a fabulous night spot. It is a bit pricey at £3 – £6 per ticket, but style doesn’t come cheap.

Yangon Dream World, featuring the Hotly Girl Band Dancers
Yangon Dream World, featuring the Hotly Girl Band Dancers

Note the acronyms KNU/KNLA in the headline – Karen National Union and its military wing, the Karen National Liberation Army. They have been at peace with the military government in Myanmar since 2012. Perhaps Yangon Dream World is a political fundraiser.