A blog about food in Thailand
and elsewhere.

Daw Than Kyi

Posted date:  August 6, 2013


I can be rather difficult to find Shan food in Myanmar’s Shan State.

At least it can do in the bigger cities or in the western part of the state, which seem to be dominated by ethnic Burmese. In Taunggyi, the administrative capital of Shan State, I only heard one person speaking Shan, and it was a day or two before I discovered any Shan food, in a stall in the city’s night market.


Daw Than Kyi serves what the Burmese call nga htamin, ‘fish rice’, long-grain rice kneaded with turmeric and topped with flakes of freshwater fish (in Shan/Tai, the dish is known as khao som, ‘sour rice’). The warm rice is kept in a cooler and to order is squashed into a thin disk, topped with the fish, drizzled with chili and turmeric oil, and sprinkled with crumbled deep-fried noodles and green onions. It’s distinctly oily and savoury, but supplemented with sides of a small dish of pickled vegetables and a very Burmese side of dhal (lentil soup), as well as optional sides of pork rinds, tiny cloves of raw garlic, chives and peppery leek roots, it becomes a dish that runs the gamut of tastes and textures.


The flavours were authentic, and the dish was even tastier than versions I’ve encountered in Mae Hong Son, Thailand, and in the more traditionally Tai areas of eastern Shan State, and other similar dishes available at the stall include wet tha chin, a meatier version involving rice steamed with chunks of fatty pork and blood in a banana leaf packet, and one with chicken.

Daw Than Kyi
Tabin Shwe Htee St, Taunggyi, Shan State

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2 Comments for Daw Than Kyi

How could you tell whether a person is Burmese or Shan ??? The way you think is funny. Most people whether a Burmese or a Shan wear a sarong (women wear ‘htamain’). You could be mistaken saying Shan or not by looking how they wear. Mostly they speak common language and they are not ethnically different.

Hi Austin! Actually, the Burmese also call the dish “htamin jin” ie “sour rice ” – a direct translation from the Shan. There are two types – with fish and with potato. Some people use both, like I do. Those that do use fish will sometimes specify and call it “nga htamin jin” – if they’re referring to it as just “nga htamin”, they’re being lazy 🙂

You can here me talking about it on BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme here (I’m right at the end of the show) http://www.meemalee.com/2013/02/burmese-food-on-bbc-radio-4-programme.html

Btw, the commenter above is sort of right. Most Shan won’t wear their own national dress these days and they tend to be bilingual. I’m part Shan – my gran spoke both Shan and Burmese but Burmese was more useful to her.

If you do see ethnically dressed people in the markets of Taunggyi, they tend to be Pa-Oh and Palaung.

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