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 foods and drinks 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. Another Shan dish worth seeking out is ngà t’ămìn jin, ‘kneaded fish rice’, a turmeric-tinged rice dish.