Author Of The Absolutely True Story Of A Part-Time Indian Burmese Cuisine And What It Really Is Or Not Is

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Burmese Cuisine And What It Really Is Or Not Is

At first glance it seems clear what Burmese cuisine is, what Burmese people are cooking. But a closer look reveals that things are not as clear as they seem as there is widespread ignorance of the exact meaning of the word inside and outside Burma.

Burma is a country of great diversity in many ways. There are various ethnic groups like Mon, Shan, Kachin, Chin, Karen, Rakhine, Bamar etc. The total number of officially recognized ethnic groups is 135 but there are many more as many are not recognized. And as diverse as the country’s ethnicity is its cuisine. In other words, ‘Burmese (Myanmar)’ food is just a catch-all term. What is called ‘Burmese’ cuisine is actually an amalgamation of various local cuisines and people do not know more or less arbitrarily drawn boundaries for the cuisines of the bordering countries Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand.

Depending on what kind of agricultural products are available, as well as local and regional flora and fauna offering many foods not only different, but also different in taste depending on the region concerned, even though they have the same name. Is it a coastal area, is the natural environment mountainous or flat, are there rivers, is it dry and arid or swampy and humid, is it hot, is it temperate, is it cool, is the soil sandy or rocky, what? Soil quality, how much water is available for irrigation? These and other factors determine what the respective local cuisine offers and what it tastes like.

As mentioned earlier, there are foods that go by the same name and are available and preferred across the country. But again, they taste different depending on whether you’re eating in Yangon, Mon State, Mandalay, Shan State or Rakhine State. A good example of this is the ‘unofficial Burmese national breakfast dish’ Mohinga. Mohinga, a hearty fish soup made mainly from fish broth (preferably) catfish, fish and shrimp paste, banana palm stem or flower, onion, ginger, garlic, lemongrass and chili, thickened with chickpea flowers and served with rice noodles , is boiled hard. Egg and lemon, or lime wedges, originate from the Mon kingdom and are preferred in large parts of Burma but not very popular in the tribal areas bordering Burma and Thailand. Other examples are coconut noodles (o nu kaukswe), pickled tea leaf salad (lahpet) and fish or chicken broth (mont de).

To be sure, Burmese cuisine is very tasty and has many delicious dishes, which I learned to cook from my wife and of course love to eat and share with family and friends. But where do these recipes originate? Again and again locals are proudly talking and writing about ‘traditional Burmese food’ and ‘authentic Burmese and not hybrid food’. Authentic Burmese? Traditional Burmese? Not a hybrid? What does traditional or original or authentic Burmese food really mean? Does it mean originating in the country named Burma by the British or does it mean originating from Bamar (Burmese) who are the majority of Burma’s population and never tire of saying ‘their cuisine’? And how genuine or authentically ‘Burmese’ is Burmese food anyway? I have lived in Burma for 25 years and know a lot about Burmese food but still I did some research focusing on these questions to get it right. While I initially thought it would be a cake walk to find the answers to these questions, it turns out to be quite a difficult task when it comes to Bama’s food.

It was with some surprise that I soon encountered a real problem because I found myself trying to find out about Bamar cuisine (which is apparently what Bamar meant by ‘pure Burmese’ cuisine) about which nothing was really known. In other words, there is no historical record of what the Bamars ate which makes it impossible to say what and to what extent the Bamars actually contributed to what is today called ‘Burmese’ cuisine.

The Bamars (consisting of 9 different ethnic groups) were the last ethnic groups to arrive in areas that had long before their presence been inhabited by the Pyu (Arakanese), Mons, Kachins, Kayahs, Shans, Chins and (except Mons). They have many subgroups. What these ethnic groups have contributed to what is called ‘Burmese’ cuisine is evident from the fact that their traditional cuisines exist and it can be assumed that they have largely remained the same to this day. But what and where Bama cooks? In other words, while it is proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the Pyu, Som, Shan etc. have made major contributions to ‘Burmese’ cuisine it is completely unclear what the contribution of the Bammers/Burmese (notably, not the Burmese) is. Either way it seems to me that the Bamars have taken pre-existing cuisines and made their own by ‘Burmanising’ the original names and calling the whole thing ‘Burmese’ cuisine. Surely, the Bamars must have eaten something and subsequently, brought some traditional Bamar (note, not Burmese!) recipes / dishes with them from where they came from. However, since there are no documents such as recipes written for personal use or published in the form of cookbooks, the answer to this question gives any information about what is original or traditional Bamar cooking. Please note that what I am writing about bama food is my personal conclusion after extensive and thorough research. Other people’s research may have different results depending on what sources are available. I have read and heard about a royal palace book titled ‘Sâ-do-Hce’-Cân’ which was – so it is said – written on palm leaves in 1866 during the reign of King Mindon Min (1853 to 1878) and allegedly contains recipes. Tried to get a copy of the book transcribed and published by Hanthawaddy Press in 1965 but was not successful in finding one. It is said that this book contains 89 recipes but nothing is said about the type and origin of these recipes. But I doubt that all (if any) of these recipes are recipes of authentic Bama origin.

Below are the answers to all the questions I will answer in this introduction. Not only that, but it’s also a fatal (but, alas, often done) Burmese and Bamar (Burman) are the same when it comes to ‘Burmese’ food, because it’s definitely not. Burma is a country and the Burmese are one of the ethnic groups living in Burma. Since the Bamars – also called Burmans – form the largest ethnic group in the country, the British named Burma after them; And citizens of Burma are Burmese. But not every Burmese is a Bamar. Only members of the Bamar, one of Burma’s ethnic groups, are the Bamar. Subsequently, we must distinguish between the country Burma, its citizens Burmese, and members of an ethnic group in Burma, the Bamar. This means a Burmese cuisine (country cuisine) and a Bamar cuisine (ethnic group cuisine) but these two cuisines are not the same. The problem with original or traditional Bama cuisine is that no one knows what foods it contains. The main problem with this is that no one knows exactly where the bummers are coming from. If it was known beyond a reasonable doubt, we also knew what their cuisine was.

The next question I had to find out was how much ‘Burmese’ cuisine is influenced by the cuisine of neighboring countries. This was particularly important to me because many Burmese and especially Bamars never tire of fervently claiming that ‘their cooking?’ Remains traditional and unique. However, my research results say otherwise. It is undeniably clear that ‘Burmese’ cuisine is largely influenced by Indian and Chinese cuisine; And this is not only in the border region, but throughout the country and not just a little, but quite a lot. For example, ‘Danbauk Hatmin’ (rice with chicken or mutton) considered a delicacy by the Burmese is actually an Indian dish whose original name is Biryani. In fact some Indian foods and dishes such as the very popular Burmese breakfast dish Hatamin Kyaw (fried rice) or Chin Tha Ye Thi (mango pickle) or Halawa (glutinous rice with butter and coconut milk) have been assimilated into ‘Burmese’. ‘ cuisine to such an extent that many Burmese do not even know that they are of Indian origin and instead believe that they are the original Burmese, which of course is wrong. However, Indian cuisine is not the only whole food introduction to Burmese cuisine. It has given an Indian touch to the traditional Burmese cooking style by Burmese women and the chefs using Indian spices such as masala (curry powder) that are not traditionally used in Burma. And the story doesn’t end there, the prevalence of milk, butter and dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and sour milk as well as drinking black tea with milk and sugar (surprise?) are additional ways that have influenced Indians. Burmese food.

The Chinese have confirmed their presence in Burmese cuisine in two ways. One way was to introduce previously unknown Chinese-style cooking into Burmese households and restaurants, using less-used or differently combined vegetables such as celery and Chinese cabbage, fungi such as Chinese mushrooms, sauces such as oyster sauce, and other items such as beans. Yogurt (tofu). Chinese dishes such as peking-baigin (Peking duck), kaupian-kyao (spring rolls) and poussi (Chinese dumplings) have also made their place in Burmese cuisine. Chinese cooking style, Chinese vegetables etc. and dishes have become an integral part of Burmese cuisine.

I believe it is clear from my writing that ‘Burmese’ cuisine does not mean ‘Bamar’ food and nothing conclusive is known about the latter. And even if the Burmese contributed a few recipes (which I believe they have) to what is known as ‘Burmese’ cuisine, they have no part of all the other ethnic foods and cuisines that had already existed for centuries (indeed for many centuries) when they were present-day Burma. Came to (Myanmar).

Boiled (not steamed!) rice (hatmin) always takes center stage in a traditional Burmese dish. Rice is accompanied by fish (nga) or shrimp (pajun sek) or shrimp (pajun a-hotok) or pork (weza-tha) or beef (ame-tha) or chicken curry (hin). kyet), clear broth (hincho) and/or clear soup (hinga), vegetables such as cauliflower (kao-fi-ban), cabbage (kao-fi-htoke) or egg plant (kha-yan-thi), salad ( athoke ) such as onions (kayet-tun-ni) made with tomatoes (kha-yan-chin-thee) or cucumbers (tha-kwa-thee), seasonal fruits such as apples (pan-thee), bananas (nga-pyo)-thee ), mango (tha-et-thei), and/or pineapple (nar-nat-thee), etc. and/or desserts such as semolina cake (sa-nowin-ma-kin). Unlike non-Asian countries where meals are traditionally served in Burma (appetizer, soup, main course and desert) all are served at once so diners can choose for themselves what to eat first and what to finish.

Burmese family life traditionally takes place on the floor. Chairs and beds are known and exist in homes but are mostly used by older people, especially for Burma’s large rural population.

Since eating is an integral part of life, subsequently, food is placed on the floor and food is rarely placed on round tables while diners sit on the floor. Burmese people usually eat with their fingers. Only the soup is eaten with a small Chinese spoon and in the case of noodle soup the noodles are eaten with chopsticks. Bowls with water and lemon slices are provided for washing hands and fingers, as well as small towels on the table.

I hope you found my article on Burmese cuisine and related topics interesting and educational.

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