Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Traditional food

Myanmar food has its own special identity. Although it draws on its' neighbors, it is neither as hot as Thai, as spicy as Indian nor does it resemble Chinese cooking much except in the stir-fry vegetables. Nowadays various kinds of Myanmar food and snacks are available in the street stalls, market stalls and local restaurants. Also most of hotels in different destinations offer Myanmar set menus, which allows visitors to try the taste of the Myanmar cuisine.

Myanmar dining tables are round and low-footed. Family members sit on the mat around the table to have meals. Unlike the Western kitchen, food is not served in courses. Dishes with different items are spread out on the table for people to take themselves form onto their plates. Food is eaten with the fingers of the right hand. Homes in cities and towns have dining tables and chairs, some people eat with fork and spoon.

Traditional Myanmar Breakfast
It can be all sorts of food. Most of Myanmar families have fried rice and peas for breakfast. A pot of plain tea is a must on the dining table. Also Mohingar, Nangyi thoat, Ohn No Kauk Swe, noodle and vermicelli salad with sauce, steamed sticky rice and deep-fried vegetables with creamy rice powder are breakfast items. Some have Myanmar traditional snacks such as bain mont and mont sein baung.

All Myanmar snacks are made of rice or sticky rice powder. Some snacks of rice powder are mixed with jaggery and baked, steamed or fried.

Bain Mont : Baked creamy rice powder mixing with jaggery liquid. Sliced peanuts, coconut and poppy seeds are spread over it during baking. It has a form of pan cakes and the taste is sweet.

Mont Sein Baung : Steamed creamy rice-powder with jaggery liquid. It includes two layers, the upper white one is just steamed creamy rice-powder and the lower brown part is steamed rice powder mixed with liquid jaggery. Thin sliced coconut and pounded sesame seeds are added when served.

Mont Hin Gar : Well known Myanmar cuisine which most of Yangon's people have every morning as breakfast. It is a mixing of the thick fish soup and thin rice noodles. Roasted Chilly powder, a squeezed lemon, fish sauce and coriander are added for more appetite.

Ohn Nok Kauk Swe : Noodles with chicken and coconut soup. Slices of onion, yellowish fried rice cracker, a squeeze of lemon and roasted chilly powder are added for more taste.

Typical Lunch or Dinner
The meal is arranged around rice with accompanying curry as main dish with a side dish and soup.

The main dish features pork, beef, mutton, chicken, duck, fish or prawn, eggs cooked in onions, and a gravy that is based on garlic, ginger, saffron powder, shrimp sauce or soy sauce, salt and a little bit of chilly powder. The meat can be fried, stewed, steamed or roasted.

Side dishes are usually a salad or fried vegetables. A salad is normally made with vegetables combined with onion slices, pounded peanuts, pounded dried-shrimp, salt or shrimp sauce and oil. Pickled tealeaf or ginger salads are eaten often after meals or as afternoon snacks.

Soups may be clear, refreshingly tart or creamy. They are mostly with vegetables, sometimes with meat, fish or prawns create different tastes. Sour soup made with roselle-leaves, bamboo shoot and fish is a popular and common soup of the Myanmar cuisine.

Fresh fruits are served after the meals. Myanmar is very rich on tasty tropical fruits in their many varieties, pineapple, papaya, mango, melons, banana, orange, etc.

Ngapi means pressed fish. Fish paste and shrimp paste are two kinds of Ngapi. Shrimp paste is shrimps crushed with salt into fairly dry paste. It is used in most dishes, especially in rosella soup. Another common side dish is fried Ngapi (Balachaung). It is fried shrimp paste with pounded dried shrimp, crushed garlic and onions and chilies. Another shrimp paste dish is roasted shrimp paste with peanut oil and a squeezed lemon.

Ngapi Yae Kyo : It is also a popular Myanmar side dish, which can be made from a kind of fish paste including big pieces of fish. The fish paste is boiling with saffron until it becomes thick. Pounded dried shrimp or crashed cooked fish, pounded garlic, roasted crashed tomatoes and chilies are combined with it. It is eaten with a variety of vegetables either raw or boiled (called toh-sayar).


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