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Myanmar Cuisine and Recipes

Myanmar Recipes and cooking

Cooking by Country - September 2004



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Go to:-   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.




Ancient 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.

Current 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.


Click here for lots of Myanmar Recipes

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