A Decade-Long Gastronomic Ode To Burma

The team picked from a wide culinary canvas, going beyond the Burmese dish best known to Indians, khow suey (though you’ll find three varieties of it on the menu). The cuisine of Burma’s eight major ethnic groups is varied and also draws from its migrant communities and neighbours, such as India, China, Thailand and Laos. Salads made from fresh noodles or fermented tea leaves, tofu made from chickpeas, small samosas deep-fried in curries or dunked in salads, rice cooked with coconut milk, pickled and fermented foods—even after eliminating the traditional fermented fish paste and meats, the variety of Burmese food is impressive. “A standard Burmese buffet comprises over 40 dishes, including meats, vegetables and salads, all served with white rice,” according to this lovely piece in Goya magazine. 

Gupta loved the sour influences of gooseberries and tamarind. “The Burmese plum and mango candies are my favourites. They have 16-17 varieties of fresh noodles and that they use to make a salad, soup or main. During the day, vendors sit on low stools and sell falooda, coconut jelly and many other goodies. Our fridges are stacked with these different foods every day,” he says. “Most mohinga and khow suey shops, that open as early as 4 a.m., have vegetarian options.” 

While the first menu at Burma Burma stuck to favourites you would likely find in capital Yangon, in subsequent years, the team went deeper into the country, exploring regional cuisines such as the Shiitake Pokchoy Ramen from Kayan state, the mustard soup from Kachin and the China Town noodles from the Chinese Muslim Panthay community. They’ve tracked the modern interpretations of Burmese cuisine too. “These days, there are more greens in the tea leaf salad, avocado was introduced in the last 15 years,” says Gupta. It’s worth trying their community Thingyan Festival menu that celebrates the Burmese New Year, on offer until May 19 across their restaurants. The flavours and techniques used will make you a fan of this Burmese ‘thali’.

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