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Thursday, August 11, 2022

A Burmese culinary custom is now receiving a lot of attention in Tulsa

It’s not hard to fall in love with the energising tastes of bawngsa kan, which is beef stir-fried with copious quantities of tamarind, ginger, and chilli peppers. However, it might be difficult to locate the dish at American dining establishments.

The Zomi people are an ethnic minority group having its origins predominantly in Myanmar (also known as Burma) and India. This dish is traditional to their diet. Many are refugees who fled their home nation to avoid authoritarian government and religious persecution in their native country because of their Christian beliefs.

According to Hau Suan Khai, the chairman of Zomi Innkuan Oklahoma, a local community group, there are between 7,000 and 9,000 Zomi people living in the city of Tulsa, making it the biggest Zomi population in the United States.

But even among Tulsa’s restaurants, finding Zomi dishes may be challenging since they are sometimes included as afterthoughts on the menus of Zomi-owned establishments that focus on other types of cuisine.

However, for many Zomi people who live here, the secondary purpose of the conference is to familiarise other attendees with their cuisine. They are members of a minority in Myanmar as well as in the United States, and they saw the event as a way to ensure that their culture and food will continue to exist.

The proprietor of Asian Star, Mr. Haunung, expressed his satisfaction with the way in which the conference prioritised the holding of sessions to explore ways in which to assist Zomi migrants. Tens of thousands of people are currently living in refugee camps in Malaysia, Thailand, and India, where they often do not have access to appropriate medical treatment or education.

The conference takes place at a time when Tulsa’s restaurant sector has expanded its variety of offerings and earned notoriety on a national scale. This year, the James Beard Foundation is honouring five area chefs with nominations for several honours.

Home cooking is something that is done by many Zomi people. However, Zomi restaurant owners may be hesitant to offer it since the cuisine is still relatively unknown in many parts of the United States.

She will be able to prepare meals at the conference in the same manner that she does at home. She remarked, “We have a right to display our identity and our culture, including the food.” This applies to both the cuisine and other aspects of culture.

Nuami Lam Tung, 20, a student at Oral Roberts University who will participate in the conference, said that she wanted to locate sabuti, a maize and meat porridge that her mother often prepares during the winter months. Nuami Lam Tung will be in attendance at the conference. She said that if they were in Myanmar, they would not be as impassioned as they are now.

After all, food is merely one aspect of a culture’s overall makeup. Co-owner Vung Cing proudly displays a framed photograph of a hornbill at Kai. The hornbill is the symbol of the Zomi people and their homeland. The walls of Zogam Cafe are adorned with photographs of Myanmar as well as the flag of Zomi, which is red, yellow, and green. In Tulsa, a cultural centre known as Zomi Innpi has been open for business for the last four years. The facility displays traditional relics like as clothes and musical instruments. In addition, the Jenks Public School District in Tulsa maintains a library collection of literature written in the Zomi language.

But Ms. Piang, who is working as a vendor at the festival that is taking place this weekend, has no intention of abandoning the culinary customs of her people.

She said that one day she will be too elderly to be responsible for preparing meals for herself. It’s possible that her daughter is clueless in the kitchen. In addition to this, she will be required to locate a restaurant that serves vaimim cim.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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