Once we talk about the culture of a country, we always wonder how and what they eat. Indians are known for their curries, Chinese for noodle dishes and dim sum, Japanese for sushi, etc. Myanmar has its unique cuisines which are cooked with peanut oil and fish sauce.
Burmese cuisines are unique in its own way. Rice is the staple food and most of the Burmese cuisines are prepared in a way to go along with rice. Usually, there will be meat/fish curry, soup, salad (a-thoke) or fried vege, and fermented sauce of preserved fish with dipping veges. It is said to be a little bit salty and oily. I have introduced the cuisines to many of my non-Burmese friends and they generally love to eat again.
Rice – is served steamed. A typical Burmese guy can eat at least 3 cups of cooked rice (i.e. 1 cup of uncooked) in each meal. Wow… right? Don’t be surprised… even the girls can. (Tbh, I am barely 40 kg and I can also eat that amount for each meal. shhh…:P)
Curries – Any meat, fish or seafood can be served in curries as main dish. But you can’t find the curry powders anywhere. The curries are freshly prepared using onions, garlic, ginger, and chili.
Salad (a-thoke) – This is not the healthy salad you have been imagining. This is the reason I put a-thoke in brackets. Cooked garlic/onion oil and fish sauce are the compulsory ingredients. Any green vege, boiled vege, meat or seafood are mixed with thinly sliced onion, cooked garlic/onion oil, fish sauce, chickpea powder and condiments for taste. A strong sour, salty and spicy taste is the most popular option.
Fried Vege – This is the same as the fried vege from other Asian countries. Just fry the vege with a bit of oil. That’s all.
Fermented sauce of preserved fish– Yes preserved fish is fermented. You can imagine the strong stinky smell (different smell from stinky tofu of Taiwan :D). This is said to be national cuisine (like Kimchi from Korea). Burmese people can even enjoy rice with this one dish only. Dipping veges are usually served together. These can be boiled or just fresh un-cooked.
Just like many Asian cultures, family gathers for lunch and dinners as much as they can. Oh yes…the traditional way is to use your hand as utensil for your food. Don’t worry, spoons are there for the dishes and a big bowl of water will be beside your table to wash your hand. Don’t confused it with drinking water, k? 😛 Now you worry about your first experience to eat with hand? Chill… Restaurants provides spoon and fork for your rice as well.
Jaggery is usually eaten after meals since it helps your digestion. And enjoy it with your tea.
Hope this gives you a rough idea of what you can expect from a Burmese lunch/dinner table. Please subscribe to follow and get to know more about Myanmar. See ya!