Leave it to me to find a salad where the majority of the ingredients are deep fried! As salads go, this is my absolute favourite, because I grew up eating this Burmese Green Mango Salad or ThaYat Thee Thoke. My grandmother called it Lethoke, and it’s her version and I wouldn’t change it one bit!
A little family history….
I don’t know how many of you know this, but part of my family are immigrants from Burma. Indian origin, yes, but Burmese citizens nevertheless. Sometime after the trauma of World War II, came the Burmese Independence. Which was then followed by the post-independence conflict which lasted for 14 years. Having had enough of the war, my grandparents finally decided to move the family back to India. My father was 17 then.
So needless to say, I grew up with a lot of Burmese influence. My grandmother and father would speak in Burmese when they did not want me or my brother to know what they were talking about. And we ate a lot of Burmese food.
My grandmother was a very vibrant, colorful woman. I loved her to no end. Still do. It’s been 11 years since we lost her, and not a day goes by that I do not miss that woman. After my parents left to work, she’d regale my brother and I with stories of her childhood in Burma, accompanied by coffee and toast. Coffee and toast has since become a food trigger tied to her memory. Although some of the stories were almost unbelievable, even the impossible seems possible when it comes from a grandmother. I have a theory that when they transition from parent to grandparent, in that little time, they become magically imbibed with special qualities, where it becomes nearly impossible to ever doubt them.
What’s a Thoke?
Salads or Thoke are an integral part of the Burmese cuisine. But unlike the western world salads, they come with deep-fried elements like onions, garlic or dry chillis. They are spicy, tangy, sweet and just incredible. This green mango salad is my favourite. For a brief insight into what it tastes like, it is tangy from the raw mango, crunchy and nutty with peanuts, sesame seeds, and raw onions, bitter-sweet from the fried onions, spicy from the red chilies and garlicky sweet. So many flavours in every bite.
And I know this sounds weird, but it is a great accompaniment with rice. Try a little fusion and have this along with drumstick sambar rice. You’ll know what I’m talking about.
Here are somethings you need to keep ready. Some of these, I always keep in stock – call it tradition, so assembling this salad is just a matter of 10 minutes.
Roasted split Chickpea powder
You can find these in Indian groceries under the name ‘daliya’. You could substitute with besan, but just remember to dry roast it until the raw smell dissipates.
This is what will bind the salad ingredients together, and give it a nutty-creamy taste. I absolutely love it!
Shallots are traditionally used, but if you can’t find it, simply use onions. Slice them finely and fry them over medium-low heat until browned and crisp. I love to make extra and use them in salads, noodles and fried rice. It adds a beautiful, deep bitter-sweet flavour and when used sparingly, can give quite a boost to your plate.
The flavour of fried garlic varies from raw garlic. It somehow becomes nuttier, and sweet and yet, garlicky. And crisp, oh yeah!
Roasted peanuts are a pantry staple for me. Every dish could use a little nuttiness, don’t you think? Just make sure to crush them coarsely, I use my handy mortar and pestle for better control.
This is just raw mango, before it ripens. It has a beautiful tangy-sweetness, and sort of a crisp bite, if you picked a good one. Find one that is green, and super hard. Hold in your hand and press to make sure there is no softness to the flesh. The harder and firmer it is, the crisper your salad will be.
Once you have all the ingredients, putting them together is just a matter to combining everything together, tasting as you go. I like mine super spicy, with lots of onions. Find out how you like it best!
When you make these (which I really think you SHOULD!), be sure to SHARE YOUR PHOTOS with me through Facebook, Instagram (@loveisinmytummy) or Twitter (@loveisinmytummy). I’d love to see what you cook from here and will share it with pride on my social media feeds.