Eating in Burma is a wonderful experience. While Burmese food can be somewhat oily, and lacks the diversity and firy spicing of cuisine in neighbouring Thailand, with a bit of advice and background knowledge we’re confident you’ll return from Myanmar having savoured some truly tasty and memorable meals.
A Burmese meal
T’ămìn (rice), also written as htamin, is the core of any Burmese meal. Rice is served with a variety of dishes that characterise Burmese cuisine, a unique blend, Mon, Indian and Chinese influences. These dishes use a variety of local, largely plant- and seafood-based ingredients, and as with other Southeast Asian cuisines, an effort is made to balance the four primary flavours: sour, salty, spicy and bitter.
One of the culinary highlights of food is undoubtedly ăthouq – light, tart and spicy salads made with raw vegetables or fruit tossed with lime juice, onions, peanuts, roasted chickpea powder and chillies. Among the most exquisite are maji-yweq thouq, made with tender young tamarind leaves, and shauq-thi dhouq, made with a type of indigenous lemon. In fact, the Burmese will make just about anything into a salad, as t’ămìn dhouq a savoury salad made with rice, and nangyi dhouq, a salad made with thick rice noodles, prove.
Regional & Ethnic Variations of food
Local cuisine can be broadly broken down into dishes found in ‘lower Myanmar’ (roughly Yangon and the delta), with more fish pastes and sour foods; and ‘upper Myanmar’ (centred at Mandalay), with more sesame, nuts and beans used in dishes.
Shàn k’auq-swèh (Shan-style noodle soup), thin rice noodles in a light broth with chunks of chilli-marinated chicken or pork, is a favourite all over Myanmar, but is most common in Mandalay and Shan State. A variation popular in Mandalay, called myi shay, is made with rice noodles and is often served with pork.