Daily Life :: Food

The typical Burmese meal consists of the staple rice with accompanying dishes such as soup with leafy greens, curry, cooked vegetables, lentils, spicy salad and chilli-hot condiment. For desserts, there are tropical fruits, semolina cakes flavored with coconut, or banana cake.

The meal is served on a low table with diners sitting on mats. Food is traditionally eaten with the fingers but the use of chopsticks, fork and spoon have become more widespread.

There are regional variations and specialities.
  • In the southern coast centered around the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) delta and Yangon, rice is the staple and fish is the main source of protein. Much of the fish and seafood are dried. A traditional favourite Burmese condiment "balachaung" is made from pounded dried shrimp, garlic, onions, vinegar and chilli.

  • In the central mountainous region centered around Mandalay, freshwater fish is supplemented with meat and poultry. Fermented beans and lentils are used as condiments.

  • In the extreme north, Shan State to the east and Chin State in the west where the people are generally poorer, their diet may include exotic ingredients such as insect larvae, ants and grasshoppers. As in the central region, fermented bean paste is used as seasoning and condiment.
Noodles are also eaten. Some of the favourites are ...
  • "Mohinga" - Widely considered as Myanmar's national dish, it consists of rice vermicelli in fish broth. Other ingredients may include boiled egg, simmered stem of the banana plant and fried fritter slices.

  • Mandalay "meeshay" - Rice noodles with pork and/or chicken, bean sprouts, fried fritter slices and pickled mustard greens.

  • "Kyauk swe" - Noodles with shredded chicken in curried coconut milk, served with slices of boiled egg, fried onions and lime. It is sometimes referred to as "Burmese laksa".
Burmese of all ages love to snack. Snack stalls along the streets and rowing street hawkers sell sweet and savoury snacks to satisfy their cravings.