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Wednesday, 25th November 2015

How to indulge a sweet tooth in Burma

When thinking of Burma your mind might not necessarily associate this gem of Southeast Asia with chocolate or sweet treats. Although much of the country's cuisine is based around savoury rice dishes there are several ways for you to indulge your sweet tooth when you're travelling around Burma.

Various areas have their own sweet delicacies, but you should be able to find most of the treats we've mentioned here in any part of the country.

Tea houses

Tea houses are extremely popular in Burma and it's advised that you go to one at least once for breakfast to indulge in large cups of milky sweet tea.

From Yangon to small villages, tea houses are local institutions and for something delicious to have with your sweet tea try a Charkway. This is a Chinese-style doughnut, sometimes dipped in sugar and it makes for an excellent accompaniment to breakfast.


This sweet is a notorious addiction for all of those who live and travel in Burma and although it's delicious, your dentist won't thank you for it. Jaggery consists of small caramel-coloured lumps made from boiled toddy palm sap and it's often referred to as Burmese chocolate.

You can enjoy this sweetie on its own or flavoured with coconut shreds or sesame seeds for some extra texture. Be warned, it's delightfully addictive!


A typical day-to-day pudding you can enjoy in any restaurant and Burmese home is tapioca, which is often sweetened with jaggery and enriched with coconut. The official name for this tapioca pudding is Thagu or Thagu Byin and is a comforting end to a meal.

At feasts rich and creamy semolina pudding is served to guests, so this one will be more difficult for you to find. However another more popular dessert is Kyauk Kyaw or a seaweed jelly, which is served with a coconut layer on the top.

Getting cakey

If you're a fan of cake-shaped treats then you'll love Hsa Nwin Ma Kin, which are small cakes made with crumbly semolina flour, coconut milk, ghee and sometimes raisins.

Keep a look-out for Bein Moun and Moun Pyit Thalet, which are Burmese-style pancakes that look similar to a British crumpet. These can be served sweet or savoury so make sure you stipulate your preference for sugar.

Cold beverages

Although falooda is originally from Persia and is drunk widely in India, it's also a popular cold drink in Southeast Asia. Burmese falooda is usually made from rose syrup, vermicelli or agar agar jelly, basil seeds and sago or tapioca pearls - similar to the ones you would find in Chinese 'bubble tea'.

You can get quite basic falooda from street-sellers, which will contain the above ingredients, but a speciality cafe or restaurant will add more decadence with ice cream, milk or water and some ice.

Popular after dinner, this drink is a great way to satisfy your sweet cravings and cool you off in one fell swoop.