by Mike Sula
All summer long I've been wondering about the strange eggplant-tomato things that Pak Suan was growing. He's one of the Burmese farmers at Albany Park's Global Gardens Refugee Training Farm, which I wrote about last week. He has a lot of these plants, which he calls kyan ka, and says they are only eaten in Burma's western Chin state, although some of the Bhutanese farmers are growing something very similar they call something like "bee"—only it's purple. Furthermore, Friend of the Food Chain Leela Punyaratabandhu of SheSimmers reports that she's seen them for sale in the open market in Chiang Mai in northwest Thailand, most often sold by Yunnanese Muslims, and some Burmese. But the only Thai term she's heard used to refer to them is makhuea doi, or "eggplants (or tomatoes) from the mountain."
Pak Suan finally had them out for sale on Saturday morning, and I grabbed a pound or so. He described making sort of a dip with them, boiling them, chopping them up with chiles, and eating them with rice. That's pretty close to what Leela suggested—something like one of the many northern-style hot dips, or nam prik, in particular a roasted green chile variant often eaten in tandem with pork rinds.