You can now get a traditional Burmese breakfast at the narrow bylanes of Sastri Nagar in Vyasarpadi, a Chennai suburb.
A community of Burmese repatriates in Vyasarpadi uphold their tradition by cooking and selling a breakfast of Kavuni or black rice porridge, mopeto, and babio.
Since 1992, Selvi and her husband, M David have been running a Burmese grocery shop stocking kavuni rice, Burmese green tea, cane hand fans, chinlone (cane balls), velvet slippers and more. In 2019, Selvi started offering a Burmese breakfast as well.
Her day begins at 5.30am when she pressure cooks black rice that has been soaked overnight. She then steams white Burmese rice in an idli pot and makes black rice porridge. Demand is high, and she usually sells out in an hour.
Breakfast here is competitively priced between ₹15 and ₹30 per item. Selvi’s menu offers mopeto, which is a black or white rice flour dough stuffed with grated coconut and country sugar, then wrapped in banana leaf and steamed. Then there is black sticky rice, which is pressure-cooked with lobia beans and served with a topping of grated coconut and country sugar; kavuni rice porridge and babio, which consists of white peas soaked overnight, then cooked with salt.
What is the story behind these repatriates from Myanmar, and how did they re-start their lives in India?
Reporting: Chitradeepa Anantharam, Ananyaa Desikan
Production: Ananyaa Desikan, Johan Sathyadas
Videos: Johan Sathyadas, Thamodharan Bharath
Photos: B. Jothi Ramalingam, The Hindu Archives