The cuisine of Myanmar has been influenced by Chinese and Indian cooking, but it has its own distinct flavour. The staple food is rice (htamin) served with mild curries (hin) made with vegetables, chicken, fish or seafood. Ngapi, a sharp-tasting, salty paste made with fermented fish, shrimp or prawns, is used to flavour many dishes. Mohinga, a popular dish, combines rice noodles and a yellow fish soup. Another favourite is thok (fruit and vegetable salad). Magyi-ywet thok is made with tamarind leaves and shauk-thi thok is made with pomelos, a fruit similar to grapefruit.

Different dishes are popular in different areas. Khauk-swe (wheat noodles in a broth made with chili-marinated chicken) is typical of Shan cuisine. Other Shan dishes include htamin chin, a rice salad made with turmeric, and khauk sen, rice noodles with fish. Mon food usually contains chilis and curry. Rakhines enjoy spicy curries, like those served in India or Bangladesh. Seafood is popular in the coastal areas. Talapo is a Karen dish made of rice and bamboo shoots, lemon grass and fish paste.

In most rural homes, people sit on stools or reed mats around a low table to eat. The food is not served in courses. Dishes are spread out on the table and people help themselves. Food is eaten with the fingers of the right hand. Urban homes usually have dining tables and chairs, and people usually eat with a fork (hkyin) and a spoon (zun). Noodles may be eaten with chopsticks (tu).

People drink green tea, fruit juice, water-buffalo milk and Mandalay beer. Htan yay (the juice from toddy palms) is popular in rural areas. Although it is sweet and non-alcoholic in the morning, it ferments by mid-afternoon. 

A popular finish to a meal is the betel chew. The dried areca nut is wrapped in the betel leaf with a lime paste. Sometimes tobacco, peppermint or other spices are added.

  Did you know?
Most Buddhists do not eat beef or pork. During the Waso or three-month fasting season in summer, most people observe a "fire-free" vegetarian diet of uncooked vegetables and fruit.
  Chicken Curry 

2 onions
5 cloves garlic
2 tbsp fresh ginger
2 stems lemon grass 
1 or 2 red chilis
1 tbsp fish stock
1 tsp turmeric
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1.5 kg chicken, cut into 12 pieces
4 green cardamom pods, seeded and crushed
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves 


 Blend the first 7 ingredients to a smooth paste in a food processor. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add paste and stir until it begins to brown and all the moisture has evaporated. Add the chicken and stir well to coat all the pieces. Cover tightly and simmer for 35 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the chicken is cooked, fold in cardamom and coriander. Serve with rice.