The food reflects the history and culture of a country and to get to know the unique historical heritage of Burma, Myanmar traditional food is a best way to do it. The main reason why Burmese food is much connected with culture is that the food is infused with all the three cultures of China, Thailand and India. The country lies amid the three states and has inherited their cuisine’s unique streak while, due to the presence of Thai minority in Mandalay region, Myanmar is known for authentic Thai food besides its very own Burmese cuisine.
The people of Myanmar love to eat and have tea, especially to have tea, they are skilled at preparing different dishes and tea with unique and rare ingredients. Other than drinking, Burmese people are the only civilization that, also, eats their tea. There are plenty of restaurants in Myanmar to try these traditional dishes.
Best 10 Myanmar Traditional Food
While in Myanmar, you can have all you want to eat, western, continental and traditional dishes, but as with every culture, there are some Myanmar Traditional Food, that should be on your ‘must-try’ list. All of the dishes included in this list are delicious, traditional and offers a great opportunity to experience the authentic and subtly infused Burmese culture.
Following is the top 10 must try traditional dishes in Myanmar:
Mohinga is the most famous traditional food of Myanmar and people love it so much, that they can have it any time of the day, breakfast, lunch, dinner and as an afternoon or evening snack also. Mohinga is a dish made with round rice noodles served with a fish based broth, usually a herbal fish or shallot or both, the dish is also served with the crispy pith of banana tree. Other than this, it is also served with slices of hard boiled egg, deep fried crunchy vegetables and lentil batter cakes, or discs. To season it, lime juice and chili flakes are popular choices.
2. Lephet or Tea Leaves Salad
Lephet is one of the most famous Myanmar traditional food that is made with fermented tea leaves. The tea, or tart, leaves are eaten as a standalone dessert, but it is also used to make Lephet thoke, a delicious pickled tea leaf salad. The dish is made by mixing shredded cabbage, deep fried beans, nuts and peas, sliced tomatoes and is spiced with garlic oil and sliced of chili and garlic. The dish can be eaten in a number of ways, an appetizer or a complete meal when served with rice.
3. Shan-Style Rice
Known by the traditional name of Nga Htamein, which means fish rice, Shan style cooked rice is both famous and delicious. The rice is cooked with turmeric and are spices and flavoured with garlic oil and flakes of freshwater fish. The dish becomes a tasty snack option when it is combined with leek roots, deep fried pork rind and pieces of raw garlic. Sanctum Inle Resort is a good place to try this dish.
4. Burmese Traditional Curries
Curry makes the basic part of Burmese cuisine as the people are skilled at making different kinds of curries and tourists and locals are overwhelmed with their variety and taste. Some of the notable sauces include Ngapi Ye, a fish sauce with watery consistency, Balachaung, a dry peppery mix of chilies, garlic and deep fried dried shrimp. This myriad of curries is served with dishes like fried rice, soups, fresh and parboiled vegetables, tart salad and stir fried vegetables. In case of a Muslim-owned curry spot, the soup can be a mix of lentils and vegetables and crispy pappadum as a side dish.
5. Deep Fried Food
Myanmar and deep fried food are synonymous as the people are in deep love with the fried food served in tea shops and roadside vendors. Some of their favourite deep fried dishes include samosas, salty and spicy fritters, breads, fried sweets, spring rolls while the noodle dishes are topped with crispy ingredients. One of the main specialities of Myanmar fried food is Buthi Kyaw, chunks of gourd are dipped in batter and deep-fried, these fried gourd fritters are served with a sweet and sour tamarind sauce that can be made spicy by adding bean powder.
6. Nangyi Thoke
Nangyi Thoke is one of the most delicious noodle dishes that are served as dry noodles combined with the soup and salad served alongside it. The dish comes in the form of rice noodles with slices of hard boiled eggs, boiled bean sprouts, chicken and thin segments of fish cake. These are all spiced with a mixture of roasted chickpea flour, chilli oil and turmeric, all added by hand and are served with a bowl of side soup.
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7. Burmese Sweet Snacks
Like tea, Myanmar has a strong sweet culture as the people like to have their sweet with tea either in the morning or afternoon, sometimes both. Unlike the Western style sweet, Burmese sweet is collectively called ‘mon’ and they are not eaten as an after meal thing but, as an appetizer. Interestingly, the sweets are not made entirely with sugar but they are making a delicious fusion of coconut, rice flour, tapioca, coconut milk and fruit. Some of the notable Burmese sweets are biscuits made of brittle semolina flour with raisins, coconut milk and butter that could be savory or sweet.
8. Papaya Salad (Let Thoke Sohn)
Papaya salad is a delicious dish and is equally pleasing to the eyes, the vendors can be found in different parts of the country and they are not at all difficult to spot. The traditional name for this salad is Let Thoke Sohn, hand tossing everything, and it is a Thai dish. The typical papaya salad, or Let Thoke Sohn, has raw papaya flavoured with salty fish sauce, hot chilies or dry shrimp. The vendors offer a number of flavours and you can choose yours for your spicy salad.
9. Burmese Noodle Soup (Meeshay)
Meeshay, Burmese noodle soup, is one of the traditional dishes in Myanmar, the soup is served with a side soup and is a delicious mix of rice noodles, meats and other additions offered with it. The soup is heavily influenced by a number of ethnic groups and cultures, but, usually, what you will get is a bowl filled with rice noodle, spicy meat toppings and is served with soup and other options like crispy bean sprouts, fried tasty Shan tofu fritters and crunchy spices of deep fried pork skin. To make it even better, mix some lime juice, fish sauce and chili in it.
10. Myanmar Tea Shops
Tea shops in Myanmar are good places to have tea as well as having brunch and crash type of meals, Burmese people are obsessed with tea and these tea shops are principle places to attract hoards of locals and tourists. An interesting thing about these tea shops is that the cuisine will be based on the owner’s ethnicity and choice, which means that you will get to have different types of cuisine. Shops owned by Burmese are good for traditional food like noodle or rice dishes, the one owned by a Muslim is a great place to have Asian Samosas and Poori and the Chinese tea shop will serve baked sweets, meaty steamed buns and other Chinese inspired dishes.
These are some of the best Myanmar traditional food to try on your trip. These food offer a great taste of Burmese cuisine which is one of the specialty of Myanmar. If you’re in Yangon, then you can try the above mentioned traditional dishes from one of the restaurant in Yangon.
Have you tried some other Myanmar traditional food than the ones we have in our list? Please let us know in your comments.