Myanmar (Burma)

Our second stop on this food adventure is Myanmar or for the more old-fashioned, Burma.

A country known for its politics, rather than its cuisine, which we didn’t know very much about. It is bordered by several ‘food giants’ like India, Thailand and China but we discover that a whole new very interesting cuisine.

From what we have read in recipes and been told it is those three countries that have an influence on Burmese cuisine. It might be easiest to describe this style of food as a fusion of another three cuisines however, having tasted and cooked a wide array of Burmese dishes, our impression of Burmese food has really changed. It really feels like a unique style to us now, although we are all likely to have ‘met’ the spices used in other national dishes.

During a Myanmar meal, all the dishes are usually served simultaneously rather than course by course. Tables are usually small enough to ensure that all the food is within everyone’s reach and water or tea are usually drunk during a meal rather than alcohol.

At the  Myanmar restaurant that was recommended to us,  the menu was so diverse it was very hard to choose what we wanted to eat. Most items felt familiar but each had a twist or ingredient which we did not expect.

Our meal consisted of  1)  a portion of mixed fritters. We had eaten fritters before but only as a dessert in Chinese restaurants.

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These fritters were savory and combined coated bean sprouts and shrimps, spinach leaves and long marrows. What a pleasant but subtle start to a meal. We found the consistency very comforting and the accompanying spicy tamarind soya sauce, which left a little tingle on the tongue added more flavour and intrigue to the dish.

Alongside the fritters pictured above 2)  a fresh raw papaya salad was served with crunchy onions and zesty lime. A very moreish dish. Our first thought, of course, was that the salad would be the same as a Thai papaya salad but nothing other than the papaya and lime was the same.

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The Burmese version we tried crunched with raw red cabbage and red onion (rather than spring onion) with a hint of mint and lime.

Our host was very helpful and friendly. He was obviously very proud of his national cuisine and chatted away about food with an infectious passion, which only made it harder to decide.

He explained that whilst seafood was very tasty, it was more of a specialty in restaurants, which cooked dishes from coastal areas. We selected a staple rice dish (basmati but fried with shrimps and soy sauce) and two meat dishes more commonly seen in the big inland cities (unless it’s Buddhist lent). Interestingly as well as rice, noodles and soups were also described to be very traditional.

The dishes that followed (Lamb and Chicken) were very intensely coloured, like Indian curries can be, however, they smelt fresh and zesty with a distinct hint of lemongrass and fresh herbs.

3) Country Lamb:

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4) Rice:

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5) Chicken in tomato sauce:

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An eye-opening and wondrous experience all round.

We can’t wait to get cooking !

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