Snacking through Myanmar

Snacking through Myanmar

Myanmar is the land of snacks, sweet snacks, crunchy snacks, Indian snacks and fried snacks.  You get the idea.  Every meal seemed to consist of many different small snacks and each time you sit down at a teashop you are served several plates of snacks to pick from.  While Myanmar’s food may never become as popular as Thai or Vietnamese cuisine it is definitely tasty and will keep you well fed during your visit.  Below is a photo journal of the many tastes of Myanmar.

While almost every guesthouse in Myanmar includes breakfast, which is typically a very poor rendition of eggs and toast we enjoyed eating at the teashops each morning.  With our tea and coffee we could pick between fried chapatti (pictured on the left), crispy and blistered, with boiled peas or Htat taya “a hundred layers”, fried flaky multilayered paratha (pictured on the right) with a sprinkle of sugar.

What the teashops were really known for were their sweets, which went perfectly with tea and coffee.  Our favorite was the fried dough with sugar and shredded coconut in the middle (top).  The sweet cakes (bottom) were also excellent and made for great bus ride treats.  These cakes are called Sanwin makin and are made with semolina and often have some or all of the following; raisins, peanuts, walnuts and poppy seeds.

I love the salty snacks, which are available in the late afternoon at street stalls.  They are almost always fried and unidentifiable, but tasty (on the right).  The shrimp, lentil and fried onion “cakes” were delicious and only about 20 cents a piece (on the left).

Laphet or pickled tea leaves (below) with a dash of oil served with sesame seeds, fried garlic and roasted peanuts, is another popular snack typical of Myanmar.  Anytime we were invited into someone’s home for tea we were also served laphet, even when we were kindly invited into a monastery where the monks abstain from eating past 11 a.m. we were offered tea and laphet.

One of my favorite lunch items was a delicious chicken broth with samusas, Burmese-style samosa with mutton and onions, chili and potatoes in it served with fresh mint, green chilli, onions and lime.  While soup seems like the last thing you would want to eat on a hot day, this is so good that I had it several days even when the temperature soared to well over 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

As much as I loved all the tastes in Myanmar my absolute favorite was palata, Burmese style paratha with egg, mutton or chicken.  It is delicious made fresh and served hot.  We ate at the same palata street stall in Inle Lake (below) four nights in a row because we just couldn’t get enough.

Mainstream Myanmar cuisine represents a blend of Bamar, Mon, Indian and Chinese influences.  T’amin (rice), also written as htamin, is the core of any Myanmar meal, to be eaten with a choice of hin (curry dishes), most commonly  fish, chicken, prawns or mutton.  Very little beef or pork is eaten by people in Myanmar- beef because it is considered offensive to most Buddhists, and pork because the nat (spirits) disapprove.

With the variety of food available in Myanmar one thing is for certain, you won’t go hungry.

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» Mom A :
Jun 17, 2011

You made my mouth water and I wonder if I could ever find any of these things in Minnesota?!

LOCAVORista Reply:

Mom, you may not be able to find all the same foods at home, but Indian food is pretty darn close. You can buy “Roti Pratha” at the grocery store in the frozen food section and then cook it in a hot pan on the stove. Otherwise you can always go to India Palace with the Chuas they love that place

» bka :
Jun 21, 2011

as you know, your mother gets all the credit for your “give it too mickey, he’ll eat anything” mentality …..i am a bit surprised that Matt also is a good little eater, given his affliction for big macs…..but then, when in Myanmar do as the Burmese would…….be safe…….peace……dad

LOCAVORista Reply:

Dad, we loved the food in Myanmar and now that we are in Japan we’re really missing the prices of the food in Myanmar.

» Jackie :
Jun 22, 2011

Erica, the guy rolling out the dough made me think of my mother making German strudels, or at least the German-Russian version. You stretch dough super thin, roll it up, then cut it into two-inch chunks and steam it in an electric fry pan with onions, potatoes, salt and pepper. Amazingly good! And it’s making me a little homesick. I haven’t had strudels in 20 years…

LOCAVORista Reply:

Jackie, mmm…German strudel sounds delicious, especially the savory version you describe. I like seeing your food updates on facebook, makes my mouth water.

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About the Author

LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.

About the Author
LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.


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