Tabodowe, the eleventh month of the traditional Burmese calendar, typically in February, is the occasion of this harvest festival. (Yes, harvest; the rhythms of the seasons in Brooklyn and in Burma are very different.) One customary festival activity is the communal preparation of the namesake htamane (tah-mih-Nay), a concoction of "glutinous rice, coconut slices, sesame seeds, peanuts and a generous amount of cooking oil."
Preparing htamane is very labor-intensive. In addition to oversized woks, the most notable tools are paddle-like ladles used to stir-fry shredded ginger, then to mix it with soaked glutinous rice. The real muscle work begins, however, when a given batch (this was the sixth of twelve) has thickened enough to be removed from direct heat. The wok is moved to a relatively shimmy-free location, in this case atop an old automobile tire resting on the floor, and held fast by several gloved hands. What was vigorous paddling becomes even more concerted as coconut, peanuts, and ultimately sesame seeds are combined into the increasingly coagulated mass. Typically, more strong hands hold each ladle near the business end, both to guide it and for extra leverage.
The resulting savory snack, shown with a fork but commonly eaten with fingers, is then portioned out; most will be eaten on the day of the celebration itself, or afterward. It's not appreciably better warm than cool, with one exception — the slightly burnt scrapings from the wok (not shown) are "the best part," several of the htamane crew told me. I don't disagree. Though I can't provide the transliteration of its Burmese name into English, should you ever find yourself at a htamane-making event, ask for "joe."
At the America Burma Buddhist Association and Meditation Center
619 Bergen St. (Vanderbilt-Carlton Aves.), Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
(The 2014 celebration, held a day after these preparations, was on March 2)