In Myanmar, every region, every town has its own specialities. For example, Pathein is popular for Halawar, Shan state has a lot of tasty Shan foods such as Shan noodles, Tofu and Shan sour rice salad. Mandalay is popular for Nan Kyi Thoke and Myee Shay. The following foods are generally accepted by the whole country.
Mohinga is the favorite food of Myanmar people. Mohinga in Myanmar is like “Spagatti” in Italy and “Sushi” in Japan. It is rice noodle eaten together with fish soup. Fish soup is cooked together with soft banana stems, onions, ginger, beans, lemon grass and other spicy things. Different region has different cooking style of Mohinga such as Rakhine Mohinga is known as Rakhine Monti, Myaung Mya Mohinga, Taungoo Mohinga, etc.
Ohn-noh-kauk-swel (Coconut Noodle)
Its soup is made of coconut milk, chicken, onions and beans and eaten up with flour noodle. In addition, people put fried beans, gourd fritter and boiled egg, chilli, lime in it and take it as they like.
(Both Mohinga and Ohn-noh-kauk-swel can be taken as breakfast. It can be served on some light occasions such as naming ceremony, donation ceremony, ground breaking ceremony.)
Kyar Zan Hin Khar
It is glass vermicelli soup cooked with chicken or pork including dried shrimp, dried mushrooms, egg, dried flowers and onions. The ingredients are put one by one in it. Some put chilli, lime and coriander leaves upon their liking. It is a good match to eat with Lime salad (Shauk Thee Thoke).
Nan Kyi Thoke
It is a big and round rice noodle salad with chicken curry, fried fish cake (nga hpe kyaw), onions, coriander, spring onions, duck egg, crushed dried chilli, dressed with fried crispy onion oil, fish sauce (Ngan pyar yay), lime and bean powder. Mandalay Nan Kyi Thoke is very popular.
Kauk Hnyin Paung
It is taken as breakfast together with fried dry/fish or gourd fritters. It is steamed sticky rice (sometimes together with beans). Kauk Hnyin Paung can be of two types- white color and brown color. Along highway trip, when you stop your car in a small town, you may see the Kyauk Hnyin Paung vendors among other snack vendors who are asking you to buy. If you fry Kauk Hnyin Paung with oil and a little bit of turmeric powder, it becomes “Si Htamin”.
Shwe Yin Aye
“Shwe Yin Aye” in Myanmar means literally “make the golden breast cool”. It is a cool sweet drink prepared of sago, gelatin, sugar and coconut milk. In addition, they put Kyauk-kyaw (Agar), bread, sticky rice, hmawl into the coconut milk and put some ice. Shwe Yin Aye sellers can make a lot of money especially in the summer season.
Kyauk-kyaw is made of agar. Agar is boiled with some sugar and needs thorough stirring on the stove for about 30 minutes. After that they make it cool to be congeal. They put some color for good appearance and coconut milk to get a nicer taste. Some people can make it 2 or 3 layers with different colors and is very attractive. On some occasions, it can be served as dessert.
Shwe-kyi (flour from the heart of wheat grain), coconut milk, sugar or jiggery are the main ingredients to make Sanyon Makin. Mix all those things and stir on the stove until it become thick. In addition, put some raisins and cashew nuts, butter in it. After that, pout in a wide and flat iron pan and bake with both upper and lower heat. Before pouring the paste, you need to put some oil first not to get sticky at the bottom part. It is a kind of pudding and a popular sweet dessert, too. There are so many kinds of Sanyon Makin. If you make with Shwe Kyi, it is called Shwe kyi Sanyon Makin. You can use bananas or potatoes or sweet potatoes or Yam or sticky rice instead of Shwe-kyi.
Hta-ma-nae is a popular Myanmar food made of glutinous rice and this festival falls in Tabotwe. Many hands are needed to make it. The rice is first soaked in water to get soft before they start cooking it. A group of women prepare the ingredients, such as peeling garlic, slicing coconuts, and heating up the peanuts. When everything is ready, a giant, concave iron put is placed over the fireplace and oil is put in it. When the oil becomes hot, ginger is the first to go in, second is the glutinous rice, and then two or three strong men, each with a huge wooden ladle, begin to stir the rice thoroughly. While they are stirring the rice, sliced coconuts, roasted peanuts, and salt are added, one by one. Sesame seeds are added last and the flavor of “Hta-ma-nae” depends on the sesame seeds. It needs not only strength, but also skill to have a good taste and a good mixture.