Burmese cuisine is heavily influenced by Chinese, Indian and Thai cuisine – if you look at a map of the region, you will see that these countries are close neighbors of Myanmar. Aside from these major flavor influences, Burmese cuisine is also diversified by the number of ethnic minorities in the country.
If there is a characteristic that can easily point out to the diner that Burmese food is served, it is the extensive use of fish sauce and ngapi, or seafood that has been fermented. Coastal cities such as Mawlamyaing, Kyaukupu, Dawei, Mergui, and Sittwe are popular for seafood dishes, while meat and poultry dishes are more common in landlocked cities such as Mandalay.
In Myanmar, most of the dishes are prepared with rice, boodles, pickled tea leaves, kaffir lime, fish sauce, and fish paste.
How to Eat in Burma
The Burmese are very polite people, and the dining table is one of the places where this politeness and courteousness applies. When eating in Myanmar, make sure to eat with your right hand. Form the rice into small balls and mix with the other ingredients using only your fingertips.
Lephet, or a dish made with fermented tea leaves, is one of the most popular Burmese dishes. This dish is typically served as a dessert, but it can also be served with cabbage, tomatoes, beans, nuts, peas, chili, and garlic as a salad, which is known as a lephet thoke. This salad can be eaten on its own or with rice.
Mohinga, or rice noodles with fish paste, is the national dish of Myanmar. This dish is typically served everywhere as breakfast. Almost every chef, cook, or housewife in Myanmar has his or her own recipe, and it is the variety and improvisation that makes this dish truly interesting.
Originally invented and prepared by the Buddhist Shans, the nga htamin (or fish rice) is a dish made with turmeric-infused rice topped with fish flakes and garlic oil. This dish is often served with raw garlic cloves, fried pork rind, and leek roots.
Myanmar also has its version of the curry, which often includes fish, shrimp, pork, beef, and mutton as a main ingredient. However, Burmese curry is unique because there is plenty of side dishes, soups, and dips that will be served with the curry itself.
Sweets are very popular in Myanmar, but often, they are consumed with morning or afternoon tea. Collectively known as the moun, Burmese sweets are flavored with natural ingredients such as coconut meat and milk, tapioca, fruit, and rice flour.
The people of Myanmar also liked their deep-fried foods – if you want to eat healthy and oil-free, then you might want to steer away from snacks sold in tea shops and on the street. Typically, spring rolls, fritters (both sweet and savory), breads, and samosas are deep-fried and served with a tamarind-based dip.
TNK Travel Team