Hello from Nila
During the week you’ll find me at Nila’s Burmese Cafe on 386 Third Avenue cooking up delicious freshly prepared home cooked Burmese & other Asian food.
I was born in Burma and moved away with my family to London when I was 5 years old. Food has always been central to our family life and still is now; not only Burmese food but any food, from anywhere! I have eaten the world over and cooked just about every cuisine known! My food & cooking is mainly Burmese, but now and again you will recognise influences, ingredients and tastes from around the world. I am self-taught and possess an array of cookery books. I have taken several short cookery courses for “non-professional” in areas such as bread making and patisserie, as well as basic french techniques (an intensive, immersive course at the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London)
Burma is bordered by China, India & Bangladesh in the north and Thailand and Laos to the east which lends Burmese food it’s unique style and identity like no other South East Asian cuisine. Dishes are lightly spiced and fragrant, chilli is often cooked to taste so the same dish can vary in heat considerably. Fish sauce or fish paste (ngapi) is used in many of its dishes. And coconut, lemongrass, cardamon and fresh herbs like coriander is common. There are several regional styles and flavours being a large country of many different ethnic groups.
A typical burmese dinner menu will consist of several dishes; there will be one or two meat curries, a couple of vegetable dishes, perhaps a fish curry, a salad, and there will always be a soup to accompany the dishes. Soups are sipped throughout the meal and the style of it will compliment the main dishes being eaten. It is not served as a separate starter course. As well, there will be several side dishes of condiments such as balachaung, dips and sauces of varying heat, saltiness & tastes, and steamed rice – all of which is shared amongst the diners who help themselves to a bit of everything.
I have an eclectic repertoire of cooking styles & techniques gleaned from hundreds (literally) of cookbooks I own and practised from. All I know in cooking has been self taught and learnt from watching others cook; mainly &most importantly my mother. (The best of them all but who’s not very good with measurements!). But All of us in the family are great home cooks and we are always comparing & sharing recipes from each other. Perhaps, it’s in the family genes!
All the food is freshly delivered, prepared and cooked in house by myself and my team of chefs. They are sourced from local suppliers wherever possible. Sometimes, when luck’s on my side they have been gathered straight from my very own small garden! In seasons some of the ingredients you find in the dishes may have been foraged, such as wild garlic.
I live locally and most of our suppliers are from the surrounding North West region. But once in a while, it’s worth going further afield to source an ingredient I know is worth the hike, such as asparagus in season from a top Scottish supplier in Perthshire.
We are a (very) small team of passionate chefs and we take pride in the quality of service and personal touch we provide. We are often able to prepare a dish adjusted to ones taste, if and where possible and with prior notice. Please contact us in advance.
Burmese cuisine includes dishes from various regions of the Southeast Asian country of Burma (now officially known as Myanmar). The diversity of Myanmar’s cuisine has also been contributed to by the myriad of local ethnic minorities. The Bamars are the most dominant group, but other groups including the Chin people also have distinct cuisines.
Burmese cuisine is characterized by extensive use of fish products like fish sauce and ngapi (fermented seafood). Owing to the geographic location of Myanmar, Burmese cuisine has been influenced by Chinese cuisine, Indian cuisine and Thai cuisine.
Mohinga is the traditional breakfast dish and is considered by many to be Burma’s national dish. Seafood is a common ingredient in coastal cities such as Sittwe, Kyaukpyu, Mawlamyaing(formerly Moulmein), Mergui (Myeik) and Dawei, while meat and poultry are more commonly used in landlocked cities like Mandalay. Freshwater fish and shrimp have been incorporated into inland cooking as a primary source of protein and are used in a variety of ways, fresh, salted whole or filleted, salted and dried, made into a salty paste, or fermented sour and pressed.
Burmese cuisine also includes a variety of salads (a thoke), centered on one major ingredient, ranging from starches like rice, wheat and rice noodles, glass noodles and vermicelli, to potato, ginger, tomato, kaffir lime, long bean, lahpet (pickled tea leaves), and ngapi (fish paste). These salads have always been popular as fast foods in Burmese cities.
Photo of Nila
(Levy Market – Manchester Evening News, 30th March 2014)