Myanmar Cuisine and Recipes
Myanmar Recipes and cooking
by Country - September 2004
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Myanmar Speciality Dish
Myanmar Featured Ingredient
Cooking by Country Main Page
Myanmar (formerly called Burma) is situated in
south eastern Asia. It has borders with India, Bangladesh, China, Laos
and Thailand and a 1,930 km coastline on the Andaman Sea and the Bay of
Bengal. Most of Myanmar has a tropical, monsoon climate although the
area around Mandalay is the so-called Dry Zone and Shan Plateau
temperatures are moderate. The terrain is central lowlands surrounded by
steep, rugged highlands.
Times, History and Influences on Myanmar Cooking
There is archaeological evidence that Myanmar's
history dates back over 5,000 years ago. The first inhabitants are thought to
have been a mixture of peoples from Cambodia, the eastern Himalayas and northern
Thai tribes and between 1st and 10th centuries AD several kingdoms and been
established through the country.
The presence of three major rivers , the Irrawaddy, the Chindwin and the Salween
River, has been an important source of irrigation throughout the central portion
of Burma where rice cultivation has been practised for centuries and was a
staple for early settlers. These rivers together with the costal areas also
provided fish and shellfish as important protein in the early diets.
However in the forested highlands where the climate is dry with little arable
land, people traditionally relied on a mixture of hunting, gathering, and
dry-rice farming and practiced "slash-and-burn" cultivation.
In the mid-19th century the British colonised Burma and made it part of British
India. Indians and Chinese arrived at the same time and although there’s not
much of a European influence in the cuisine, the Indians and Chinese established
firm culinary traditions in the area which are evident today in the use of
noodles and soy sauce and in the making of curries although Burmese curries are
not as highly spiced as Indian ones. Thai influences can be seen in the use of
lemongrass, fish sauce and coconut.
Day Myanmar Cuisine
Myanmar food is probably best described as a
cross between Chinese and Thai food with Indian influences. It’s richer than
Chinese but not as spicy as Thai or Indian. Today, the country’s major
agricultural staple is still rice which is served, usually boiled, at every
meal. Beans, pulses and noodles are also frequently served. The cuisine uses
lots of garlic, ginger, turmeric, chillies and onions and shrimp paste is a
common ingredient used to give extra flavour.
Fried rice with peas is often eaten for breakfast and a dish called Mohingar is
also popular for breakfast as well as lunch (see the speciality dish section).
Lunch or dinner often consists of a main dish, often a meat, poultry or fish
curry, plus vegetable side dishes which is often a salad of vegetables with
meat, fish or prawns or stir-fried green with or without meat, a soup and
boiled rice. Many families will serve 2 or 3 main dishes in addition
to the side ones. All the dishes are placed on the table at the same time and
diners help themselves. Fresh fruit such as pineapple, papaya, mango, melons and
bananas is often the preferred choice for dessert.
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