Myanmar is a food haven for thut thut luh aka vegetarians. Burmese cuisine offers an array of dishes that are meat-free and entirely delicious. International traveler and plant-based eater Miss Filatelista details some of her favorite veg dishes she discovered while traveling throughout Myanmar’s diverse states. Remember teh ta loo la means is this vegetarian and atha ma sa bu tells the food vendor that you don’t eat meat.
My introduction to vegetarian-friendly foods in Myanmar began when I went on the Sa Ba Street Food Tours in Yangon. My local guide, Mi Mi, graciously checked with vendors to make sure dishes didn’t contain any animal by-products for me and explained which dishes traditionally contained meat. By learning the ropes of the local specialties from a local I was able to set off on a satisfying journey eating my way around Myanmar.
Burmese salads are unlike anything you’ve ever had before! The most common is lahpet thoke, or tea leaf salad. Myanmar is one of the only countries in the world where tea leaves are eaten. Serving sizes are typically small making this more of a snack than a meal. It consists of picked tea leaves, fried mung beans, garlic, sesame seeds, and tomatoes tossed in peanut oil.
Other tasty slaw renditions to try are tohu (tofu), myin kwa yuet (pennywort), gin (ginger, lime, butter fruit (avocado), or karyanchintheet (tomato). These are on the menu at most tea shops and restaurants serving Burmese dishes. Be sure to ask for no fish sauce and no tiny fried shrimps. There are so many varieties you could easily survive on thoke alone, but luckily, you don’t have to!
Noodle dishes can be devoured throughout the country and are prepared in endless variations of dry, fried, or wet. Most are prepared to order, especially at street stalls, so you can customize your dish to avoid any meat and add in your favorite toppings of fried garlic, sesame, cilantro, chili, tofu, spring onions, and more.
Shan noodles are especially delicious as they’re topped with a soft yellow tofu that is made from peas, not soybeans! Another great rendition is a noodle dish served in a sweet and spicy coconut cream broth.
There are many Burmese snacks that will satisfy the cravings of any vegetarian. My favorite indulgence is the deep fried tofu chips that are doused in a spicy tamarind sauce. Other fried goodies are dote htoe–skewers of fried tofu, bean paste, okra, potatoes, and more served with a sweet chili sauce. Samosas are typically always vegetarian in Myanmar and can be consumed chopped up as a wet or dry salad.
Lann ta ye mont is similar to an Indian dosa–it’s a thin crepe topped with chickpeas, onions, veggies, and garlic. Moh lin mya is made with similar ingredients but served in small rounds cut in half, hence the name husband and wife. Then there’s motepyitsalet, also made of rice flour and chickpeas and typically eaten for breakfast. The white pancake is savory and the red is sweetened with locally produced palm sugar.
What vegetable dishes have you tried in Myanmar? Tell us your favorites in the comments!