Burmese cuisine

Cuisines of Asia and Oceania
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Burmese cuisine reflects the history, ethnic and climatic diversity of Myanmar. Less well known than the neighbouring cuisines of China, India and Thailand due to a smaller diaspora and reclusive government in modern times, the cuisine of Myanmar shares many features with its neighbours but is full of unique dishes and flavours as well.




  • Rice is the staple of Burmese cuisine and makes up the core of every meal. Paw hsan hmwe or "pearl rice" is a prized variety of fragrant rice cultivated in the Irrawaddy delta region and famous for its aroma and fluffiness.
  • Ngapi is fermanted fish/shrimp paste, a major ingredient in the southern and coastal regions of Myanmar, and is used both as a condiment and additive to dishes such as soups and curries. There are regional variations with the ngapi of the Irrawaddy Delta being made out of freshwater fish and high amounts of salt while the version eaten in Rakhine State uses marine fish and little salt.
  • The marian plum is a juicy fruit native to Myanmar, and tastes like a mix of persimmon, mango and apricot.


A serving of lahpet thoke before mixing.
  • Mohinga is a homely and fragrant fish and rice noodle soup. Usually regarded as the national dish of Myanmar, it is made with river catfish.
  • Lahpet thoke is pickled tea leaf salad. Myanmar has one of the few culinary traditions where tea leaves are eaten and are not just infused into a drink. To make the salad, the pickled tea leaves are mixed with peas, toasted sesame seeds, peanuts, dried shrimp, tomatoes, cabbage, oil, fish sauce and lime juice. Offering lahpet to houseguests is a symbol of hospitality in Burmese culture.
  • Khow suey is an egg noodle soup with a coconut milk base which is infused with aromatic herbs and spices and topped with meat, tofu, fried garlic, coriander leaves and onions.





When eating at home, the custom is to not drink with meals. A light, soupy broth is the usual liquid accompaniment to meals.

Elders are always served first; when there are no elders present, a pot of rice is set aside as a mark of respect to them in a custom called u cha (first serve).

Cutlery such as forks and spoon have become more common but many still eat with their hands, specifically right hand and only the five fingers are used (i.e. don't let your palm touch the food). Knives are not really necessary for the diners as the meat is already chopped into small pieces.

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