HOUSE OF THE WEEKmore
Street rice snacks a sticky lure for customers
(Volume 26, No. 507)
Daw Tin Tin Wai fries dried sticky rice discs in Yangon’s South Dagon township.
IN a large basket at the side of a street in Tarmwe township, Yangon, sit heaps of dried and fried sticky rice, one of the more popular snacks among Yangon’s street food aficionados.
“Fried dried sticky rice is popular, becoming one of the Myanmar people’s favourite snacks, going well with coffee or tea,” said snack seller Daw Than Than Htay, 45.
Every evening, she travels to South Dagon where she buys sticky rice with a little soda, which she leaves to soak overnight. At dawn she wakes up to steam the sticky rice and while it is still hot she moulds it into circular disks to leave under the sun for two days.
Each evening she fries the sticky rice disks, which she sells from 10am to 2:30pm daily.
“My regular customers are low earners and busy office workers. The snack is filling and cheap so if they eat two pieces in the morning, each costing K200, they can work the whole day without eating anything more,” she said.
Her husband works for a furniture business and earns K5000 per day while Daw Than Than Htay earns approximately K4000 a day from selling the rice.
“Each day I bring a bag containing disks of fried dried sticky rice equal to three pyi of rice, costing K9000 to make. I receive about K13000 if I sell the whole bag,” she said.
If stored in an airtight container the rice disks can last for three days.
“There are no [artificial] chemicals used in the food production to make them last days; it is a natural taste,” added Daw Than Than Htay.
Wholesale seller Daw Tin Tin Wai has been making the rice snack for the past 16 years. She sells to vendors near her home at Shwe Chin Thae bus stop in South Dagon.
“It is a money-making business. Four years ago I could buy a small piece of land in South Dagon and diamond earrings for my daughter by selling fried sticky rice here,” she said.
“Some people from downtown come to buy the rice and some people from Mandalay buy huge quantities of the snack, saying they like it very much,” she added.
Every day, she and her mother work to steam 30 pyi of sticky rice.
“We divide the work between us, my mother cooks 15 pyi of sticky rice and I cook 15 pyi, and my husband stuffs a bag with the snacks after we fry them,” she said.
“About ten customers bought from my shop before but when they saw how the business was flourishing they began making the snack themselves after asking how to cook them. In South Dagon the number of sellers who cook the snack has increased and you can even find packed fried sticky rice in supermarkets and shops in Yangon.
“I now have five customers but this does not affect my work. Everyday the vendors come and buy a pack of snacks each, earning me K10,000 after costs,” she said.
In the past, her elder sister sold them herself in Yangon’s downtown area. The popularity of the snacks led to an increase in the number of vendors although the snacks are less popular in the rainy season because they receive less sun while drying so customers do not like the taste as much. Instead, Daw Tin Tin Wai cooks other snacks.
“In the rainy season we fry gourd, slices of onion, banana and pounded peas.”