Smithsonian Institution
Join Our Email Mailing List
Festival Radio
Support the Festival

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Burmese Recipes

Savory Matrimonial Cakes and Sweet Rice Crepes
Recipe by Sunda Khin
A sweet Burmese snack and savory Burmese treat for special occasions

  • 2 cups rice powder
  • 1 cup glutinous rice powder
  • 2 cups cold water
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp raw sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame seed, ground
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup watana beans, cooked
  • 3 stalks scallions, sliced
  • 7 fresh quail eggs
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 1 cup jaggery/cane sugar syrup
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

Matrimonial cakes: Mix rice powder, glutinous rice powder, cold water, baking soda, salt and sugar together into a thin batter. Pound together the sesame seeds and salt. Heat oil over low heat in each section of a pan with divisions or cups. When the oil is hot, ladle 1 tbsp of the batter into each section. As the batter cooks ladle 1 tbsp of the cooked watana beans and sprinkle scallion on it. When crust appears on the sides, scoop out one cake and top onto another cake, turn it over until it becomes crisp. Take out of the pan and sprinkle sesame mixture on top. Serve warm.

With quail eggs: In the same pan with sections/cups, heat ½ tsp oil in each section. Pour the same batter into each cup and cook until crisp at the edges. Into each break one quail egg. When the egg is cooked, with a small spoon carefully remove the cake onto a serving plate. Sprinkle the sesame mixture on top if desired. Serve warm.

Crepes: Using the same batter, ladle onto a previously oiled non-stick pan. As the batter cooks, add 1 tbsp of jaggery/cane sugar syrup and coconut flakes. Let the crepe cook for about 2 minutes. Fold the crepe in half and cook for 1 minute more. The underside of the crepe should be brown and slightly crisp at the edges. Serve warm.



Green Papaya Salad
Recipe by Sunda Khin
This dish is an example of Burmese thoke (salads), common dishes in daily Burmese life

  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 tbsp fried onion
  • 2 cups green papaya, shredded
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp roasted pea powder
  • 2 tsp dried shrimp powder
  • 2 pieces green chili, sliced
  • Salt
  • Cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in the pan and deep fry the onion until crisp. Remove and set aside, retain the oil. Place all the ingredients, including the chili flakes, in a bowl and mix thoroughly.



Hand-Tossed Vegetable and Rice Salad
Recipe by Sunda Khin
This dish is an example of a Burmese thoke (salad), common dishes in daily Burmese life

  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1 cup rice vermicelli, boiled and drained
  • 1 cup bean thread noodles, boiled and drained
  • 4 potatoes, boiled and sliced
  • 1 cup bean sprouts, blanched
  • 1 cup fried bean curd, sliced
  • 1 cup green papaya, shredded
  • ½ cup cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • ½ cup cabbage, shredded
  • ½ cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp powder
  • 1 tbsp roasted chick pea powder
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp fried onion
  • 4 sprigs cilantro, chopped
  • 1 packet dried seaweed, soaked and drained

Heat oil in a pan and fry the sliced shallots till crisp. Drain the oil into a bowl and set the shallots aside. Put about 2 tbsp of each kind of noodle in a plate or large bowl. Do the same for rice, bean curd, and each vegetable, one on top of the other. On top, sprinkle 1 tsp of each of the flavorings. Add cooked oil. Toss all the ingredients together like a salad and serve at room temperature.



Green Papaya Salad (Serves 6-8)
Recipe by John Tin Pe
This dish is an example of Burmese thoke (salads), common dishes in daily Burmese life

  • 2 oz green papaya
  • 2 oz carrots, julienned
  • 2 oz white onions, sliced
  • 2 oz green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup lime juice
  • 2 tbsp crispy garlic slices
  • 2 tbsp chick pea flour, roasted
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 tbsp peanuts, ground and roasted
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil, pre-heated
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp powder
  • 1 tbsp fresh green peppers

Prepare all ingredients. Roast garlic, peanuts and sesame seeds. Mix all ingredients, pound in a stone pestle and mortar. Serve at room temperature.



Green Lethok (Rice and Noodle) Salad (Serves 8)
Recipe by John Tin Pe
This dish is an example of Burmese thoke (salads), common dishes in daily Burmese life

  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 boiled potatoes, sliced
  • 2 cups carrots, julienned
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups green cabbage, shredded
  • 2 tbsp hot red chili
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • ½ lb bean thread noodles, boiled and drained in cold water
  • ½ lb egg noodles, boiled and drained in cold water
  • 1 lb rice vermicelli noodles, boiled and drained in cold water
  • 2 oz green papaya
  • 2 oz white onions, sliced
  • 1 cup lime juice
  • 2 tbsp crispy garlic slices
  • 2 tbsp roasted chick pea flour
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp ground and roasted peanuts
  • 2 tbsp pre-heated vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp powder
  • 1 tbsp fresh green peppers

Toss all ingredients in large salad bowl. Serve at room temperature.

Click to enlarge

Matrimonial Cakes and Sweet Rice Crepes

Click to enlarge

John Tin Pe