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......


သားၾကီး November 14, 2009 at 2:14 AM  

စာလား?မဖတ္ပါဘူး ဖတ္မွမတတ္တာ

Ozoz November 18, 2009 at 4:37 AM  

Fantastic intro...especially with my love of food culture. Thanks and I do agree that food eaten with delicious...hmmm

Moulmein Thu November 18, 2009 at 7:17 AM  

ဒီက ထမင္း၀ိုင္းေလးမွာ ၀င္စားသြားေလ ကိုသားႀကီး :)

Thanks Ozoz :)

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