The Indian states of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh are north of Myanmar. Myanmar’s political relationship with its neighbor was once strained; partly due to a dispute regarding the Coco Islands.
But it has significantly improved since trade between them increased 1993. This is because of the India’s investments into Myanmar, which is after all, a gateway to East Asia. To the food traveler, this is good news. There’s more to taste. And it is certainly true that Burmese food is the gateway to East. The proof is on your tastebuds.
Here are the top three Indian-inspired Burmese dishes, and then some:
1. You can’t say you’ve eaten Indian-Burmese cuisine without eating Penpyoke nanbya or beans and naan. It’s a popular and cheap breakfast there. Naan bread is of course, a flat bread made by mixing yogurt, water, flour, sea salt and fennel and nigella seeds.
A sure sign of naan bread is the presence of a wood-fire oven where they are baked. The beans are made of chickpeas and are boiled and mashed a little for a a creamy and savory consistency. The beans are usually topped with fried onions and other local spices. The beans can also be eaten with chapati, which is the same flat bread but fried. Penpyoke nanbya is usually served in teashops. And because it is a breakfast food, this dish is quite hard to find it at any other time of the day.
2. Biryani, as many food travelers know, is an Indian dish that mixes basmati rice, chicken or mutton, vegetables like tomatoes and potatoes, yogurt and spices and aromatics like onions, garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, mint, saffron, cardamom, cinammon and oil or ghee. It is really a full meal in itself.
Now, Myanmar has a version of this dish called Danbauk, Ambrosia Biryani or simply Burmese Biryani. It is generally prepared the same way except, it has a side serving of pickled mangoes, fresh mint, and chilli. These make the Burmese version more sour, sweeter and hotter. It’s like having a festival in every bite.
3. In terms of dessert, there’s hpaluda or the strawberry domino, which is the Burmese faluda. It’s a sweet cool drink made with rosewater, strawberries, milk, coconut flavored agar-agar jello, coconut shavings, custard, palm sugar, and ice cream. This is very sweet, very pink and very refreshing. You can find it in A-eh seins or cold drink shops.
There are always runners up to these things as there’s always room for more food. Try these other Indian-Burmese dishes:
Samusas are Burmese samosas. They can be filled with mutton, onions, fresh mint, green chillies and lime. Dosas Samusa thohk is a salad with onions, cabbage, fresh mint, potatoes, masala, chilli powder, salt lime, and curry. Dosas are potato-filled cakes and are a popular vegetarian or thatalo snack. Htawbat htamin is basically rice with ghee. It is usually eaten with curry like the Burmese chicken curry Kyet Thar Sipyan.
If you happen to visit Yangon, I would like to recommend you this awesome Indian Restaurant name Golden City. You can check it out more details in this awesome forum about Travel to Myanmar.
They say that street food expresses the true heart and soul of a country. In Myanmar, this is no exception. The destination of choice for this is Yangon. It is also known as Rangoon, which means “The End of Strife” It’s the country’s former capital and largest city. Originally named Dagon in the 17th century, it was once a small fishing village in Lower Myanmar.
Today, it’s gridlike streets have taken more nationalistic names and it is the center for media, commerce and of course, food. To get to the food, you should go Downtown where the market is. The markets are open air and you’ll see vendors selling fresh produce and hawking the best street food the country has to offer.
Here are the top three streetfoods you shouldn’t miss in Myanmar:
1. Mohinga is a definitive Mon breakfast.The Mon are an ethnic people in Myanmar. Mohinga is a popular fish soup with garlic, ginger and lemon grass. Chunks of fish meat and rice noodles are added. Sometimes, it is clear and other times, it is red with curry and tomatoes. One thing is constant though, the soup is poured over vegetable fritters ad boiled eggs. Based on the ingredients alone, you can guess that it’s a very fragrant broth. The vegetable fritters can vary but, on the streets, its usually potatoes. And it makes for a healthy and filling meal. Thankfully, it is also served at other times of the day.
2. Yangon streets are also filled with vendors selling fritters or Ah kyaw. Deep frying is a popular cooking method there and they do it with almost anything – from vegetables to seafoods. Hawkers can sell them in plastic of paper bags that you can carry around and munch on while walking through the city.
The batter for the fritters is usually made with a mix of rice flour, chickpea flour, salt and water. Peanut oil is used for frying. There are savory vegetable fritters like squash, potatoes and broccoli. Pakora is a fritter made with a mix of cauliflower, spinach, onions, tomatoes and chillies. There are shrimp fritters too. There’s a also a deep fried tofu stuffed with cabbages and chillies. the sweet side, there’s yam and banana fritters with palm sugar, mon-lon-gyi, which is a rice dumpling, and mok-si-kyo or coconut fritters.
3. Another popular street food in Myanmar is coconut noodle soup or Ohn No Kauk Swe. It’s a vermicelli and egg noodle soup with coconut milk and chicken. The use of coconut milk in savory dishes is rare in Myanmar. The soup is flavored with fish sauce, ginger, onions, turmeric, chillies, chickpea flour, lemon juice, stock and coconut cream. Hawkers serve them in bowls which you can slurp up on the curbs. The egg noodles provide a jelly texture.
You’ll also see stalls with boiled corn or Byon Bu. 19th Street between Mahabandoola and Anawrahta is also popular for its barbecue skewers. Choose your raw meats and veggies and have the people there grill for you.
When you visit Myanmar and eat Burmese food, you will realize that the country’s cuisine has some Chinese influences. This is especially evident in Burmese noodle soups and even in the presence of the Chinese wok for stir-frying in kitchens in Myanmar. Ingredients like bean curd, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and onion also show such influence.
This isn’t surprising since China is just a stone’s throw away up North—through the Irrawady River trade route to the Yunnan province. Politically, too, Myanmar was the first non-Communist country to recognize the Communist China. The two countries also trade oil, steel, textiles, raw rubber and raw wood.
Indeed, these two countries are quite inseperable, and one of the best ways to learn how they intermingle is through their food. Here are the top three Chinese-Inspired Burmese dishes that make for delicious lessons in history and diplomatic relations:
1. Pausi are the Burmese version of steamed-buns. In China, they are called siopao or baozi and are filled with barbecued chicken, fish, or pork. Some baozi have vegetable fillings or sweet lotus seed paste fillings.While there are buns like these in Myanmar, the truly Burmese buns are those filled with curry chicken, boiled eggs, coconut meat or red beans. The dough is generally the same, being made of flour, sugar, vegertable oil, active dry yeast, sugar, salt and water.
2. Seejet khao swè is a dry noodle dish with chopped chicken, crispy duck or minced pork and eggs in a soy sauce. Nothing could be more Sino-Burmese. This dish can’t actually be found elsewhere. The boiled noodles are topped with the meat, fresh spring onions and garlic that’s been deep friend into crispy chips. This is all mixed in a hot wok. Bean sprouts and carrots are also added.
The sauce is made with soy sauce and fish paste and a raw egg that is cooked as you continue to stir things in. Some say this an early form of Thailand’s famous Pad Thai.
3. There’s also A sein jaw, a mix of vegetables stir-fried with a squid ink sauce. The veggies can include cabbage, baby corn, cauliflower, tomatoes and green beans. They are cooked in a wok where oil has been flavored with ginger and spring onions.
Jaw, refers to seafood. In this case, the seafood is squid ink that is thickened with a tapioca flour. Black pepper is then added to season the dish for a mixture sweet and spicy and salty. This is great with steamed rice.
And if you’re done trying these top three Sino-Burmese treats, try these other dishes: Kaw yay khauk swè, another wheat noodle dish that has a curry soup. There’s also Mi swun, which is a vermicelli noodle soup with chicken broth. You’ll also encounter San byoke, a rice congee with either fish, chicken, duck or pork. This dish is often served in soup kitchens. If you want more meat, take a bite out of Chakha su lun, a deep fried chicken with a sweet jaggery glaze.
In Myanmar, people only normally have dessert when there are guests. These sweet treats, often made with glutinous rice are certainly something you can look forward to as a traveler to the country.
These top 3 desserts are indeed are a perfect way to say “Welcome to Burma!”
1. Sticky rice balls with jaggery are definitely a favorite Burmese dessert. The principle behind making the balls is generally the same in Asia: Mix water, glutinous rice flour and roll with your palm-oiled hands into small pieces of dough. But, it’s the sweet filling that makes it unique to the country. Jaggery is an unrefined sugar concentrate that is taken from date juice, cane juice or palm sap. It is chopped up and its bits are put in the middle of the rice flour dough, which are then rolled into balls.
The balls are boiled in water until they float to the top of the pot – an indication of being cooked. Once cooked, grated coconut meat is sprinkled on the balls. In general, though, they are white and soft, and sticky on the outside whilst crunchy form the bits of jaggery inside. Enjoy them with a cup of sweet lapea yea tea.
2. Another famous Burmese dessert is Kyak Kyaw or seaweed jelly. Locals and tourists love this because of its texture and simplicity. Also, because it is very cool and refreshing. The particular seaweed used is known as agar-agar and is often bought dried. To make this dessert, pre-soak the seaweed in water for 2 hours. This will make it swell and get that famous texture. Cook coconut cream in a pot with water that’s twice as much in volume as the seaweed. Add the seaweed and sugar and boil until dissolved. Set in a tray, let cool and refrigerate.
For added effect, people often set aside a fourth of the mixture and let it set and cool as a white jelly. The rest have food coloring added. They are often also cut into diamond shapes and have cool coconut cream poured over when served.
3. Shwe Yin Aye is a coconut sherbet. The name literary means “To make the golden heart cool.” It is reminiscent of a Japanese Kakigori or a Philippine Halo-halo. The difference is that in Burma, soaked agar-agar strips, boiled tapioca or sago, rice flour balls, and even some green rice flakes, candied chendol or ash gourd, or durian are added to the base sherbet. Some people also like to add bread with the crusts removed for more texture. To make the sherbet, mix coconut cream with jaggery and pour over crushed ice.
Other notable Burmese desserts that didn’t make it to the top 3 of this list are mango cake ( a custard cake with mangoes), wrapped bananas or Kauknyintok and Sanwinmakin, a rich semolina cake with raisins and, poppy seeds, butter or ghee and, of course, coconut cream.
Enjoy these sweet snacks from roadside vendors or while people-watching in a tea shop in Burma.
With the number of ethnic minorities in Myanmar, it is no surprise that its culture, as well as its cuisine is distinct, diverse, and perpetually interesting. Just when you think you know everything about Burmese food, you land in a state that has a totally different set of taste buds. This is how Shan food will make you feel.
The Shan people are part of a Tai ethnic group in Myanmar and their culture, as well as their cuisine, is quite different from the ethnic Burmese people. For one thing, the Shan people do not like using a lot of oil in their cooking; they’re not a big fan of fish sauce or nam paa either.
While the Shan people don’t like fish sauce as much as the rest of the ethnic Burmese, they do have a love affair with dry, fermented soy bean or hto nao. Almost every Shan dish has hto nao. If not, is typically served as a spicy relish called nam hpit.
They also tend to eat more vegetables than the ethnic Burmese. In fact, most houses in Shan-populated states have vegetable gardens. And when they eat, there’s usually a serving of fresh leafy green vegetables.
If you want to get a true sense of Burmese cuisine, it won’t be complete until you get a sampling of Shan specialties. These three wonderful dishes would help you get started:
1. Htamin Jin
Htamin jin is a Shan specialty. This dish is typically eaten for breakfast or lunch. It’s made of either fresh or fermented rice, boiled fish, tomato paste, mashed potatoes, garlic chive roots, garlic oil, and crispy garlic garnish. It is then served with chili flakes in oil as a condiment. The rice typically used for this dish is typically Highland Shan rice.
2. Maak Lahng Goh
Maak Lahng Goh is a jackfruit salad. It’s made with boiled jackfruit, cabbage, shelled roasted peanuts, roasted sesame seeds, cooked onion and tomato, turmeric, coriander, and a bit of oil.
3. Khao Hsen
Khao Hsen is a kind of noodle soup native to Shan. It’s a heavy meal that’s typically eaten during breakfast. This dish has native Shan rice noodles, ground pork, tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, soy sauce and hto nao powder. It’s served with the following condiments and garnish: boiled eggs,coriander, lemon wedges, dried chili powder, crushed roasted sesame, and pork rind.
These three dishes are a very small sampling of what the Shan people have to offer in terms of cuisine. If you find yourself in Myanmar, do take the time to indulge in Shan cuisine. Many of the ingredients used in quite a lot of Shan dishes aren’t available in many parts of the world; and are very like unavailable in the West. The manual cooking methods utilized by their ethnic group also add to the full flavor of the dishes they make. To fully experience a Shan dish, it is not to try it an exotic restaurant. Head to Shan and discover the difference!