Burmese cuisine

Burmese cuisine includes dishes from various regions of the Southeast Asian country of Burma (now officially known as Myanmar). The diversity of Myanmar’s cuisine has also been contributed to by the myriad of local ethnic minorities. The Bamars are the most dominant group, but other groups including the Chin people also have distinct cuisines. Burmese cuisine is characterized by extensive use of fish products like fish sauce and ngapi (fermented seafood). Owing to the geographic location of Myanmar, Burmese cuisine has been influenced by Chinese cuisine, Indian cuisine and Thai cuisine. Mohinga is the traditional breakfast dish and is considered by many to be Burma’s national dish. Seafood is a common ingredient in coastal cities such as Sittwe, Kyaukpyu, Mawlamyaing (formerly Moulmein), Mergui (Myeik) and Dawei, while meat and poultry are more commonly used in landlocked cities like Mandalay. Freshwater fish and shrimp have been incorporated into inland cooking as a primary source of protein and are used in a variety of ways, fresh, salted whole or filleted, salted and dried, made into a salty paste, or fermented sour and pressed. Burmese cuisine also includes a variety of salads (a thoke), centered on one major ingredient, ranging from starches like rice, wheat and rice noodles, glass noodles and vermicelli, to potato, ginger, tomato, kaffir lime, long bean, lahpet (pickled tea leaves), and ngapi (fish paste). These salads have always been popular as fast foods in Burmese cities. A popular Burmese rhyme sums up the traditional favourites: “A thee ma, thayet; a thar ma, wet; a ywet ma, lahpet” (), translated as “Of all the fruit, the mango’s the best; of all the meat, the pork’s the best; and of all the leaves, lahpet’s the best”.