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Historically, Burma (now referred to as Myanmar) has never been a very large country. However, what it lacked in size, it made up for with the diversity and variety of its cuisine. Being home to approximately 125 ethnic groups, with their own distinct and unique cultures certainly contributed to the wide variations found in our famous Burmese cuisine.

In Burma, everyone, from rich to the poor is a big fan of rice, as it makes up a common staple in their diet. The land in Burma is fertile and is excellent for growing rice, which makes it abundant and it may be considered the centerpiece of every meal. Paw hsan hmwe, fragrant aroma rice, is our most popular breed of rice. While rice is the backbone of Burmese cuisine, ngapi is the blood. Ngapi is a generic term for pungent pastes resulting from fermentation. Like blood, ngapihas many varieties as well.

In the region rich with lakes, Ayeyarwady, the majority of ngapi is produced from freshwater fish and usually contains a lot of added salt. In the coastal region, Rakhine State, the majority of ngapi is prepared with marine fish and contains little or even no added salt. In the hilly-plateau region, Shan State, ngapi is more often not made from fish, but with fermented beans.

Burmese cuisine is also heavily shaped by neighboring countries, namely China (North and Northeast), India (East), and Thailand (Southwest) due to their geographic proximity and shared aspects of culture. It is also slightly influenced by Britain due to its more recent colonial heritage. Rangoon, the traditional capital, is also full of architecture made in the British 19th century style, complementing the traditional Burmese temples and pagodas from centuries ago. Like Britons, it is also common for Burmese to have milk tea with their breakfast.

Bean curd, soy sauce and various rice noodles are commonly found in Burmese cooking, which are of Chinese origin. Our favorite breads, palate and nan bya, are adopted from India. Burmese cuisine is famous for its spicy and sour tastes, which are shared with Thailand.

Burmese foods are often stir-fried, salad-based, fried and grilled, which is likely the result of the typical simple Burmese kitchen which does not have electricity or conventional ovens. Fried and grilled food are easy to store, while salad-based food does not require further heating. Burmese turns simple natural ingredients into tasty dishes with simple cooking methods. Curry of many types is also common as are deliciously spiced beef, fish and fowl.

Although Burmese food is not as common in the West as Chinese or Indian cuisine, try some of these recipes and I am sure you will find they are not only delicious, but will remind you of some of the Eastern dishes that you may already be accustomed to. My intention of the website is to share the enjoyment of our scrumptious Burmese cuisine. A lot of time and effort has gone into translating and compiling this internet cooking resource so that we could share our culture and favorite dishes with you. The recipes here are a true representation of the lifestyle and richness of our Burmese culture.

Enjoy!

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