Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A brief introduction of Myanmar culinary customs

Traditional Myanmar(Burma) dishes are influenced by two culinary giants, India and China. Indian spices such as chilli powder, turmeric powder, cumin, cinnamon and coriander are used to flavour Myanmar curry dishes. China influence is also noticeable, especially the use of noodles. An example would be stir-fried noodles served in the bustling street cafes and restaurants. Although it incorporates certain elements from the cooking of these neighbouring countries, i do feel that Myanmar cuisine has its own special identity. The flavours usually consist of sour, salty, spicy and bitter.

Typical lunch and dinner
In Myanmar(Burma), typical lunch and dinner would be of rice, one main dish such as chicken curry, pork curry, fish curry or prawns curry, a side dish consists of a salad or fried vegetables, and a soup. Plain water or Burmese tea is usually served with a meal. As in the rest of South-east Asia, rice is the staple food of the Burmese. The names of many Myanmar dishes denote the cooking style or the ingredients used in the dish. For example, wet thar hmyint chin hin, a dish refers to pork(wet thar)cooked with fermented bamboo shoots(hmyint chin).

Rice cooking technique
In many households (mostly in rural areas), a large pot is used to cook rice. First rinse the rice with water before adding water to the rice pot to boil. The charcoal cooker is commonly used to cook rice and other dishes. The rice is par-boiled and drained. Then the rice is left to steam in the pot until it is soft and fluffy. So you can see, this is definitely not as straightforward as using rice-cooker.

Burmese etiquette

Generally the traditional custom of eating with the fingers still persists. Ofcourse, there are fancy restaurants in Myanmar where they introduce Western-style with plates and cutlery. Only the right hand is used to scoop up the rice and other ingredients. Rice and curries are customarily blended so each mouthful is unique.

The left hand is used for passing a plate of food. If not, your left hand should rest on the table or your lap. The left hand is strictly reserved for other functions (toilet related). However, it is alright to use the left hand for other activities like writing and cooking. I am a lefty and do things with my left hand most of the time. But i have no problem using my right hand to eat.

Food tastes best when eaten with your fingers. So do enjoy this cultural experience of getting intimate with your food after washing your hands.

Hopefully, this post will give you some ideas of Myanmar culinary customs which is probably one of the least well-known of all Asian culinary customs. Thanks for visiting and have a pleasant day! See ya......


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stuffed eggplant with peanuts, dried shrimps and spices

My mother cooks this eggplant curry at home quite often. I like the rich taste of this eggplant stuffed with peanuts, dried shrimps and spices. Recently, i tried out this simple recipe in my own kitchen.
Not bad :)

I have a feeling that I will be making this eggplant curry fairly often in the future.

For my this recipe, let me just eye balls things as i never like to measure.
I guess it runs in the genes.
Whenever i asked my mum how to prepare certain dishes, she would just say, " Well, you need to add this and that ingredient.....".
That's why, i often ended up cooking many dishes with no proper recipes.
To be honest, i prefer it this way too :)
Why not?
In fact, it makes my time in the kitchen more challenging and exciting.


Pounded dried shrimps

Pounded peanuts

Mixture of chilli powder, red onions and garlic


Cooking oil
Seasons to taste


Mix all the ingredients thoroughly in the pan.

Wash the eggplants. Slit the eggplants as shown in the picture below.

Stuff the eggplants.

Add 1/4 cup of water and let this cook on medium heat until all the eggplants are well cooked.

note: During cooking process, add warm water as needed and gently turning the eggplants so that all the sides are equally cooked.
Serve this with rice.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bottle gourd fritter(Bu Thi Kyaw)

Bu Thi Kyaw is a popular and versatile snack in Myanmar. Burmese like to add this delicious snack in Mont Hin Gar (thin rice noodles in thick fish soup) for more satisfying taste. Not only that, you also can made bu thi kyaw thoke (bottle gourd fritter salad). Another quick and easy recipe. I will post this recipe another time, ok :)

Serves : 2

Preparation Time : 10-15 mins

Ingredients for bottle gourd fritters

270 g bottle gourd

1 packet tempura flour

1 cup cold water

1. Slice the bottle gourd

2. Pour tempura flour in a big bowl.

3. Add 1 cup of cold water and stir to make a paste.

4. Mix the bottle gourd pieces with the tempura flour paste.

5. Add the bottle gourd pieces into the hot oil to fry until golden brown on all sides.

6. Serve hot!

How to prepare the dipping sauce?

2 garlic cloves, crushed and coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons fish sauce

4 tablespoons tamarind juice

Seasons to taste

note: Coarsely chopped green chilli can be added if you like it to be spicy. If you just want a little bit of spiciness, then remove some of the seeds, and it will give a nice, but not too spicy flavour. You also can add a bit of roasted chickpeas powder to the dipping sauce to thicken the sauce and give it a more flavour. In fact, i prefer my dipping sauce with a bit of roasted chickpeas powder added in it. Now, that reminds me of the tasty bu thi kyaw that i had in Mudon with my aunts :):)

Have a nice day and thanks for your visit Hi-ya!

Do come back again for more of my humble recipes and articles on Myanmar culture.

Coming Soon........!!!!!!


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Pe pyote with shredded bamboo shoots

As i said before, pe pyote is one versatile ingredient that can make many dishes. So here we go.....another side dish, pe pyote with shredded bamboo shoots!!!!
Serves : 2
Cooking Time : 6-8 minutes
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 packet shredded bamboo shoots
1/2 packet pe pyote
1 tablespoon oil
seasons to taste
  1. Heat oil in the saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and fry until it turned reddish brown. Remove onions from the oil.
  3. Add shredded bamboo shoots to the remaining oil and stir. Cook this for about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add pe pyote and give it a quick stir. Cook this on low heat for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add fried onions and stir.
  6. Seasons to taste.
    note: You can buy pe pyote(boiled yellow beans) from any of the Burmese shops in Singapore, not sure of other countries. I do not know how to make pe pyote as it involves quite a few complicated steps before boiling the yellow beans. I promise, i will post about it once i have learnt the trade ;)


Thursday, October 01, 2009

Pe Pyote from a cheerful street vendor

Yesterday, i went to one of the Burmese shops to buy 1 packet of boiled yellow beans (pe pyote) as i was yearning for the Burmese breakfast which is rice with pe pyote . Pe pyote is one versatile ingredient that can make many types of dishes, such as fried rice and salad. You also can have pe pyote with paratha or with Nan. These are popular breakfast items in Myanmar and people usually have these with sweet milky tea or coffee. I do not like milky tea or coffee. I usually would have these with hot burmese tea (chinese green-tea).

Ok with that aside, i recalled one of my fond memories, pleasant and sing-song voices of pe pyote vendors calling out " Pe......Pyote " in the early morning in Yangon. So this is how i came to an idea of writing up my today blog post with the illustration of a cheerful pe pyote vendor :):)

Please excuse me for my lousy drawing :)
I can't draw but i also can't stop myself from wanting to illustrate these cheerful, resilient and generous Burmese street vendors. So here is my drawing as you can witness my very much limited talent :D

They are the wake-up call vendors with heavy basket or tray balanced on their head as they walk many miles to sell off their stuff early in the morning. With such a heavy load on their head, sweat streaming down from their forehead, most of them never fail to put on a genuine smile even when customers tried to bargain or asked for extra portions. Usually, you would see two large strips over the cheeks of women vendors. That is Burmese make-up which is also known as ta-na-ka. It acts as a sun-block. Well, maybe next time i will blog about ta-na-ka so do remember to visit my blog again, ok :) Thanks!

Rice with pe pyote in crispy garlic and oil
Step 1: Sprinkle salt, add 1 tablespoon of crispy garlic and oil to the rice.

Step 2: Add 2 tablespoons of pe pyote.

Step 3: Mix well!



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