Every country has its own preferences when it comes to preparing food. Myanmar's cuisine is particularly shaped by its geographical location and the influence of the country's numerous ethnic groups: the Myanmar's favorite dishes could hardly be more varied. Here you can discover the 10 most common dishes that can be found throughout Myanmar.
1. Mohinga - A fish soup as a national dish
Mohinga is the national dish that defines excellence in Myanmar. The fish soup is definitely one of the dishes you should not miss on your culinary journey. Mohinga is typically eaten by the locals for breakfast, but it is now also available at other times of the day: especially in the traditional restaurants and tea houses. There are countless variations of the yellowish fish soup. The recipe always changes a little, depending on the region you are in and the family recipe behind it.
The basic ingredients of mohinga are vermicelli or rice noodles, fish (catfish is usually preferred), the stem of a banana plant and various spices. Usually garlic, ginger and lemongrass are used.
Other spices also make an appearance, depending on the instructions: Some of the common extra ingredients are eggs, spring onions, chicken and beans.
2. Shan Noodles - the popular sticky rice noodles
Shan Noodles are absolutely one of the favorites on the menu for Myanmar people. The sticky rice noodles have become popular throughout Myanmar, but originate from the eastern Shan region on Inle Lake.
They are typically served as a main course. Shan noodles can be eaten as a soup or as a salad. Tomato paste, peanut, chili sauce and meat are essential ingredients for Shan noodles. Without meat it turns into a vegetarian dish and it is often served with some pickled vegetables and soup on the side.
3. Laphet Thoke - the popular salad with tea leaves
Laphet Thoke is a traditional salad made from tea leaves and is considered a symbol of peace in Myanmar. To reconcile after a quarrel, a tea leaf salad was usually eaten together. The base consists of tea leaves, cabbage, roasted peanuts, chili, tomatoes and fried beans.
The dressing is a mixture of oil, garlic, salt and lemon. Popular additional ingredients are shrimps or sesame seeds. This refined combination is particularly tasty and refreshing. Especially in the summer months, Laphet Thoke is a successful dish that you can find practically everywhere in restaurants, tea shops or street markets. Read more about the fascinating street food in Myanmar here.
Read more about the fascinating street food in Myanmar hier.
4. Curry - A classic in Myanmar cuisine
Curries are popular throughout Myanmar and are much less spicy compared to Indian curry. Especially in the coastal regions of Myanmar, curry is particularly popular with tiger prawns, but many other fresh ingredients like tomato, chili, onion and basil contribute in making the curry have a unique taste.
The rice is usually cooked and prepared in the morning together with vegetables, meat or fish or seafood and various spices. Sesame or peanut oil form the basis. Depending on the individual recipe, Myanmar curries also contain turmeric, cumin, cloves and aniseed. Shallots, chili, ginger and garlic are also popular.
Curries are basically eaten at any time of day and are sold practically everywhere food is available.
5. Street Food - the coveted barbecue on the roadside
Street Food is one of the must-try culinary experiences in Myanmar. The Yangon region is particularly popular for street food delights. The numerous barbecue stands of the street vendors and the freshly prepared barbecue are particularly sought after.
Various skewers, meat, fish and corn on the cob are the main items on the grill. You choose the meat or vegetable yourself directly on site and can then watch how your desired dish is prepared directly on the barbecue fire. It is served with special sauces that differ at each shop and it can be eaten with rice for a more complete meal.
Here, the unique taste of Myanmar street food is combined with the on-site preparation and the extraordinary atmosphere of the small street stalls to complete the experience.
6. Sticky Rice - The Basis of Numerous Specialties
Not only are the sticky Shan noodles a highlight in Myanmar, but also the sticky rice. It is impossible to imagine Myanmar cuisine without rice and noodles. They can be found on the plate at any time of the day - either as a side dish or as the base for the main course. Glutinous rice is very often the base for Myanmar's culinary specialties.
For example, small rice balls are formed together with meat, fish or both in combination and served as a delicious appetizer. Also in demand are the sweet rice cakes that are usually topped with fruits, which are offered as a dessert. Sticky rice cakes are especially popular in traditional teahouses.
7. Pyin Oo Lwin - the Myanmar version of fondue
Pyin Oo Lwin is a paradise for hot pot of pork organs and apart from its unique taste, it is also very popular in Myanmar due to its cheap price.
The classic dish consists of a pot of hot water and skewers. On these are various internal organs and pieces of meat from the pig. It is typically enjoyed like a fondue: The skewers are taken out of the pot, dipped in mostly spicy tasty sauce and then eaten.
If desired, noodles or rice can be ordered as well. You only pay a small amount per skewer and do not have to wait too long making it a much desired late night snack.
8. Exotic fruits - a healthy and tasty snack
Myanmar's tropical fruits are an essential part of the culinary tradition. They are especially popular as a snack. Myanmar is home to so many exotic fruits that it is a real treat to discover and taste the different delicacies.
Especially at one of the numerous markets in Myanmar, you can find a large selection of fruits. They are not only a real treat for the palate, but also healthy. Here is a small selection of the fresh fruits: bananas, papaya, mango, avocado, rose apples, jackfruit, pineapple, mangosteen, passion fruit, guava, dragon fruit and pomegranates.
9. Falooda - Probably the most famous dessert in Myanmar
It can get quite warm in Myanmar, especially in summer. A cool refreshment in the form of ice cream certainly comes in handy: It is not without reason that falooda is probably the most widespread dessert in Myanmar. The balanced mixture of ice cream, sweet syrup, jelly, basil and milk promises an explosion of sweetness and cools down your body at the same time.
Falooda can be found in restaurants, street stalls and tea houses.
10. Cuppa Tea - The national drink of Myanmar
Tea may not be a national dish, but it is Myanmar's national drink which is equivalent to greatness. Cuppa Tea means nothing other than "cup of tea". The Myanmar people love black tea, green tea and also spiced tea, and it is an indispensable part of everyday life. Just like the convivial get-togethers in the country's typical tea houses. There is also a sweet tea which is similar to coffee but it’s a lot heavier and sweeter. You can choose to put condensed milk in it and it is often paired up with breakfast at traditional shops.
The culinary voyage of discovery through Myanmar is particularly varied and has the great advantage of not being too spicy. This means that even those with a European palate will get their money's worth. Many dishes can be switched up to accommodate vegetarians as well.
Myanmar cuisine is a great mix of fresh vegetables, rice, noodles and spices. If you are open to new taste experiences, you are sure to find some personal highlights in Myanmar. Essential stops on a tour of Myanmar's culinary diversity includes Myanmar teahouses and street food from the vendors.