There is a set of kitchen equipment which the Myanmar housewife can not do without. It is the set of pestle and mortar for the pounding of food. The pestle and mortar come made of three different materials. The basic set used in heavy work when the ingredient has to be thoroughly pounded is the granite pestle and mortar. The set used when heavy force need not be applied is made of clay. An alternate set is made of wood.
The pestle and mortar is used to treat various types of ingredients which go into main dishes and side dishes. But there are also dedicated dishes where the activity of pounding is carried in the name of the dishes. These pounded dishes add zest to a meal and often a meal is enjoyed heartily because of them.
Ngapi-daung (Pounded fish paste)
Place half a cup of shrimp paste or fish paste on to a wooden ladle or inside the lid of a clay pot. The paste will stick to the ladle or lid. Make a few holes in the paste by poking with the forefinger. This is to provide regular application of heat. Roast the paste on moderate heat. Pound into powder dried prawns to get 1/8 cup of smooth dried prawns powder. Pound 5-7 cloves of garlic till it becomes smooth. Take green chili, roast slightly and pound. Also pound roasted dry chili and add. This is optional. Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly with a spoon. Sprinkle some sesamum oil on the paste. Squeeze a lemon on the paste. Make it into a ball. This will last for a long time.
Magyi-thee daung (Pounded tamarind)
Take 10-12 pods of fresh, green tamarind, peel, remove seeds, cut into small pieces and pound. Take roasted shrimp paste and pound to make 1/8 cup. Pound 7 cloves of garlic. Put all into a bowl, and sprinkle sesamum oil. If dried shrimps pounded to powder to make 1/8 cup is added, the whole tastes better.
Zeebjuthee daung (Pounded myrobalam)
Take 10 myrobalan fruits, remove seeds and pound. Add seven cloves garlic pounded. Add 5 green chilies roasted and pounded. Add shrimp paste, roasted and pounded. Salt may be used in place of shrimp paste. Sprinkle sesamum oil.
Ngayoke thee daung (Pounded chili)
Take dried chili, roasted and pounded to make 3 tsp.
Add garlic pounded to make 3 tsp.
Add pounded onions to make 3 tsp.
Sprinkle 1 Tbs sesamum oil.
Add salt to taste.
Optional: add pounded green chili (not roasted).