Burmese food refers to food from the cuisine of Burma, also called Myanmar, a country in South East Asia. It consists of a variety of meats, seafood and fish. Fish sauce and ngapi are fish products extensively used here. Burmese also use a number of fruits and vegetables as ingredients in their food.
Burmese food, though having a distinct taste and flavor, has influences of its neighboring countries like India, China and Thailand. Influences of local tribes are also seen in Burmese food. Religious influences also have an impact on Burmese cuisine recipes. The Buddhists avoid beef while the Muslims avoid pork.
Commonly Used Ingredients
White rice or htamin is the most common staple Burmese food. The accompanying meat dishes are called hin. Paw hsan hmwe is fragrant aroma rice which his very popular in Burmese food, and is considered equivalent to Thai fragrant rice or Basmati rice. Glutinous rice, called kauk hnyin is also popular. Rice cultivation is also a common agricultural activity in Burma, and rice is also exported.
Seafood forms a significant part of Burmese food, especially in the coastal cities of Sittwe, Kyaukpyu, Mawlamyaing, etc.Meat and poultry are more common to Burmese cuisine recipes of the landlocked region, owing to their availability there.Freshwater fish are widely eaten in different forms. They are used in various forms, like fresh, salted, salted and dried, salted and made into a paste, or fermented sour.
A variety of salads are also popular in Burma. These salads are usually centered around a principal ingredient like rice, wheat or rice noodles, glass noodles, vermicelli and even potato, ginger, tomato, ngapi (fish paste), lahpet (pickled tea), kaffir lime, etc. They are a popular form of fast food in Burma.
A range of fruits are used in Burmese food, including durain and guava (served as desserts), and also strawberries, mango, banana, jackfruit, plum, lychee, pomegranate, mangosteen, sugar-apple, papaya, pomelo, water melon, and rambutan.
Ngapi or fish paste is considered an essential element in Burmese cuisine recipes. It can be used in Burmese food items like salads, main dishes, as a soup base, and also in condiments.
Commonly used condiments in Burmese food include picked mango, balachaung (shrimp and ngapi floss) and ngapi gyaw (fried ngapi).
Burmese meals consist of steamed rice, along with curried freshwater fish or curries meat or poultry. Along with this is a light soup called hin gyo, boiled vegetables and a curried sauce of pickled fish (ngapi yayjo). The dishes are served more or less at the same time.
Burmese food is eaten on low tables, sitting on bamboo mats laid out on the floor. The eldest people are served first, as a mark of respect. Even if elders are not present, a scoop of the Burmese food is first taken out and set aside for one’s parents, and then the rest are served. Burmese eat food with their right hand, and eat rice with the help of their finger tips, making a ball of a small amount and popping it into their mouths. They use chopsticks or Chinese style spoons for eating noodles. Noodle salads are eaten with a spoon. Knives and forks are not usually found in homes, but available in restaurants.
Here are some of the popular Burmese food dishes-
- Shwe yin - a popular and refreshing dessert
- Gyin thohk- ginger salad with sesame seeds
- Khauk swè thohk - wheat noodle salad with dried shrimps, cabbage and carrots, garnished with fried peanut oil, fish sauce and lime
- Kat kyi hnyat- rice noodles with a variety of seafood, land meats, raw bean sprouts, beans and fried eggs
- Kyay oh - vermicelli noodles immersed in soup with pork offal and greens
- Mohinga - a dish of rice vermicelli in fish broth. This is the unofficial national dish of Burma.
- Malaing lohn - Burmese-style gulab jamun
- Nan bya - Burmese style naan
- Palata -Burmese style paratha
Nutritive Facts about Burmese Food
Burmese cuisine is rich in a wide variety of meats, fish, seafood, rice and fruits and seasonings. By virtue of these ingredients, it is known to be rich in proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Meat is a good source of protein and phosphorus, while fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals and disease fighting antioxidants.