Friday, 30 December 2011

Burmese Fermented Green Tea Leaves Salad

'Lahpet' is Burmese for fermented or pickled tea. Myanmar is one of very few countries where tea is eaten as well as drunk . More interestingly Lahpet was an ancient symbolic peace offering between warring kingdoms in the history of Myanmar, and was exchanged and consumed after settling a dispute !
The fermenting process traditionally used is long and complicated . 

Young leaves are packed into bamboo vats set in pits and pressed by heavy weights; the fermentation process is checked at intervals and the pulp may occasionally require re-steaming. Today you buy the stuff ready made ( if you happen to be in Myanmar / Singapore areas ! ) or ferment the leaves at home with equally good results.

To ferment the leaves , take 5-6 tablespoons of green tea leaves ,cut them into half , wash and soak in hot water for 2-3 hours till they expand and are soft . Sqeeze out all water and marinade the leaves in 4 tablespoons of sesame oil (peanut oil also an option ) , 1 tablespoon each ginger and garlic paste , salt and juice of 1 lemon .For an extra bite - 2 Green chilies pounded cab be mixed into the tea leaves while marinating . Cover the dish tightly ( cling wrap ! ) and leave it to ferment 2 days in a closed space like a cupboard . The fermented leaves are ready to be used in your salad , or even eaten with boiled rice !

For The Salad
Fermented Green Tea Leaves ( with the oil / paste )
2/3d Large Head Cabbage ( cut 1 " long - and fine ).
3 Large Red Tomatoes ( remove seeds and cut like cabbage )
4 Tablespoons Roasted Peanuts.
4 Tablespoons Roasted And Then Fried Chickpeas.
4 Tablespoons Roasted Sesame Seeds.
10 Thick Garlic Pods ( sliced into thin discs and fried crisp ).
1/2 Cup Toasted Pumpkin Seeds ( Whole Foods in India sells them )
1/2 Cup Deep Fried Butter Beans ( Indian option is Sem / Lima Beans . If still not available increase the other nuts/seeds)

Mix all the above with the fermented teal leaves - adjust flavors and serve . Try NOT to assemble the salad in advance , but at the time of serving .

This is a fantastic combination of textures and flavors .The fermented leaves taste amazing. This slaw-type salad has slight crunch and a slightly sweet-sour taste. It can be mixed in with rice for a quick meal or used as a side at just about any meal.

In this vegetarian version I haven't used fish sauce , shrimp or shrimp paste and its pretty much what the original tasted like in Myanmar . You can make and keep the fermented green tea leaves for a long time , taking out batches as and when needed .


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