Along with food, you'll find history, culture and arresting photographs in "The Burma Cookbook: Recipes from the Land of a Million Pagodas" (River Books) by Robert Carmack and Morrison Polkinghorne.
The two authors live in Sydney, Australia but were in Los Angeles for a launch party at the home of Anne Willan, founder of La Varenne, the cooking school in France. In the photo above, Willan is flanked by Carmack, left, and Polkinghorne.
The party was great fun, and the food was so good that it was not possible to leave without a copy of the book. Beautifully designed, it's a work of art as well as a cookbook. Read more about it, and about the party, in this post for L.A. Weekly's Squid Ink.
All the food was delicious, but the dessert won my heart--a nutty, rich semolina cake (top photo) studded with tiny Burmese flags. Here is the recipe:
RICH SEMOLINA CAKE
From "The Burma Cookbook: Recipes from the Land of a Million Pagodas"
2 cups semolina, coarse or fine
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup butter or oil
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup finely chopped toasted cashews
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, well beaten
1 tablespoon poppy seeds, preferably white
Toast the semolina on a baking tray in a hot oven for about 10 minutes. Stir or shake occasionally so it browns evenly.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine coconut milk, butter or oil and sugar, stirring until dissolved. Slowly add the semolina, stirring constantly so that lumps do not form, about 5 minutes. Keep stirring until the mixture just begins to bubble. Add raisins, cashews and salt.
Lower heat slightly and keep stirring for another 10 minutes. This mixture gets very stiff, but not unmanageably so; the batter will come away from the pan sides.
Remove from heat, quickly beat in eggs, mixing well, and transfer to a buttered, deep 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes, or until set. Insert a knife or toothpick in the center to test if it is done; the knife should emerge clean.
Cool in pan for several hours or overnight. Serve at room temperature. Cut with a sharp knife into small squares, diamonds or wedges. If desired, top with coconut flakes or raisins soaked in sugar syrup. Makes 8 to 12 servings.
Note: The photos for this post were taken by Yakir Levy.