Burmese cuisine is an exotic blend of flavourful ingredients that make up unique dishes that are an absolute must-try. It offers a plethora of authentic dishes from various regions of Myanmar. The dishes consist of a large plant or seafood-based ingredients and most of its flavors are subtle with a balance of sour, salty, bitter, and spicy, all in one go.
As people say, food is a very big part of one’s culture, you can learn so much from just observing what people eat! And why is that? There is more of a connection between food and culture than you may think. Because food is part of our daily life, we eat three meals a day and even many snacks in-between! Why do we love food so much? The first answer that comes into my mind is “we need it for survival” but is this everything? Food offers a variety of source that we need in our daily lives such as carbohydrates, vitamise, proteins as well as fats.
These enable our bodies to perform tasks we have to face regularly at work, school, or in our leisure. Aside from survival, some people choose their food based on an individual taste such as sweetness, sour, bitterness, spiciness, or just because it is yummy. Eating fruits might be more joyful because they are sweet, juicy, and healthy and similar is with vegetables, whereas others like to enjoy something meatier. On an individual level, we grow up eating the food of our cultures. It becomes a part of who each of us is. Many of us associate food from our childhood with warm feelings and good memories and it ties us to our families, holding a special and personal value for us. Food from our family often becomes the comfort food we seek as adults in times of frustration and stress.
On an individual level, we grow up eating the food of our cultures. It becomes a part of who each of us is. Many of us associate food from our childhood with warm feelings and good memories and it ties us to our families, holding a special and personal value for us. Food from our family often becomes the comfort food we seek as adults in times of frustration and stress.
Burmese cuisine is mainly an amalgam of cuisines from various regions of Myanmar. It has also been influenced by various cuisines of neighboring countries, in particular, China, India, and Thailand.
Modern Burmese cuisine comes in two general varieties: coastal and inland. The cuisine in the coastal areas, such as that in the main city Yangon, makes extensive use of fish and seafood-based products like fish sauce and ngapi (fermented seafood).
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The cuisine in inland regions, such as Upper Myanmar and hill regions, tends to use more meat and poultry although modern inland cooking too has incorporated freshwater fish and shrimp as a source of protein in several ways: fresh, salted whole or filleted, salted, and dried, made into a salty paste, or fermented sour and pressed.
A key attraction of Burmese food is its extensive use of fish products such as fish sauce and ngapi (a paste which is made using either fish or shrimps). Apart from this, rice or htamin as they call is their regional specialty. This fermented rice is one of the signature dishes which is relished and enjoyed by people of all age groups. If you ever happen to go to a Burmese restaurant, you will see that the main dish will always be followed with a side dish. It can either be soup or boiled vegetables and herbs. They are best enjoyed by pairing with dips ranging from ngapi (fish dip) to balachaung (a combination of chili, garlic, and dried shrimp fried in oil). Myanmar culture is influenced by British tea culture; hence they like to have tea with their breakfast. Burmese people love to drink tea. Going to the Burmese family to be a guest, the owner used to entertain guests with tea. They believe that tea needs to be tasted. Understanding the thoughts of the Burmese is as good as drinking tea. The best place to taste tea in Myanmar is the tea house, where people who like to express their opinions when drinking tea.
Tea shops are found in every city, town, and large villages. These establishments are important locales for social gatherings. Street stalls sell a variety of foods in the cities and towns. Relatively few restaurants serve Burmese food. The majority serve Indian or Chinese food, and English food is served in many hotels and guest houses.
Food plays a large role in a place’s culture, not only in the living styles of people from there but in foreigners’ perceptions of places as well. The exchange of food is the exchange of culture, and thus understanding a place’s food can be an incredible insight into their culture and lifestyle.
The countries that border Myanmar, especially India, China, and Thailand, have influenced Burmese cuisine. Indian influences are found in Burmese versions of dishes such as samosas and biryani, and Indian curries, spices, and bread such as naan and paratha. Southern Indian, especially Chettiar cuisine is also popular in cities. Chinese influences in Burmese cuisine are shown in the use of ingredients like bean curd and soya sauce, various noodles as well as in stir-frying techniques. As in neighboring Thailand and Laos, fried insects are eaten as snacks.
What’s the street food in Myanmar? Fried food is a famous food in Myanmar. Burmese people have a special liking for fried food. In fact, fried food can be seen anywhere in Myanmar. Most of the snacks that can be found on the street or in the teahouse in Myanmar—dumplings, spring rolls, fritters, desserts, bread, etc., are fried.
Burmese people have the habit of chewing betel nuts(betel quid) and sitting in teahouses during their leisure time. The usual snacks include palm sugar, cakes, and various fruits. Traditional Burmese families eat two meals a day at 9:00 in the morning and 5:00 in the afternoon. In the morning, Burmese just have a cup of coffee and eat a bit of snacks. Burmese people used to grab rice with their hands when they are eating. When traditional Burmese families eat, their parents sit in the main position. When the parents are absent, the children should also give up the main position. After the death of the father, the mother sits in the main position. When the parents are healthy, the mother sits on the left of the father, the eldest son is on the right side of the father, and the eldest daughter sits on the left side of the mother, etc.. Eating is done in order of generation. When the father is temporarily absent, the mother must put the good food into the dish prepared for the father, and then everyone can eat. When children have something to eat first, they must first leave food in advance for their parents.
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