15 Popular Traditional Burmese Desserts
Burmese desserts consist of sweet foods and beverages that vary regionally and seasonally and often take a lot of time and effort to prepare.
Some traditional Burmese desserts are available year-round, while others are available only during festival season. Most traditional Burmese desserts are sweet courses served at the end of a meal, but some are eaten as snacks. Let’s round-up some of the most popular local treats.
1. Htanyet (Toddy Palm Jaggery)
Htanyet, toddy palm jaggery, is a popular Burmese dessert due to its digestive properties and is served to guests in every Burmese house.
It is a sweet produced from the toddy palm and is eaten by children and adults alike, usually in the afternoon with a pot of green tea. There are several different flavors, such as coconut, plum and milk. Htanyet is also an essential ingredient in most other Burmese desserts.
2. Kyanthakar (Sugercane Jaggery)
Kyanthakar is another jaggery, made out of sugarcane juice, but it differs from toddy palm jaggery in production method and shape. It is a deeper gold in color, due to the darker color of the cane juice, and rectangular in shape, while Htanyet is round, white and translucent.
Sugarcane jaggery is healthier, richer in minerals and has a different taste with its slightly caramelized saltiness. It is popular throughout the country.
3. Shwe Kyi (Coconut Cake)
Shwe Kyi, also called Sanwin Makin depending on whether additional ingredients like walnuts or raisins have been added, is a Burmese must-eat dessert.
It is a popular cake with a strong coconut flavor and is traditionally served after lunch. Shwe Kyi is prepared by boiling coconut cream, semolina and sugar until thick. Eggs are then incorporated to aerate the mixture before it is baked.
When made with mashed red bananas, it is called Banana Shwe Kyi. It is typically sold by street vendors in large round pans.
4. Htoe Mont (Glutinous Rice Cake)
Htoe Mont is one of the most popular traditional Burmese desserts. It is considered a delicacy of Mandalay and is a popular souvenir from the city.
It is a glutinous rice cake cooked with raisins, cashews and coconut shavings and is consistently prodded during the cooking process. Its sticky structure and its flavor make the dessert more distinct in overall taste.
5. Pathein Halawa (Pathein Pudding)
Pathein Halawa is a traditional Burmese pudding that is made by cooking glutinous rice flour, rice flour, coconut, sugar, poppy seeds, butter and milk. It has two primary variants: wet and dry.
It is particularly popular in the Irrawaddy Delta town of Pathein, in lower Myanmar. It is considered a Pathein delicacy due to it first being sold in this town, and visitors traditionally purchase Pathein Halawa as a gift for relatives and friends when in Pathein.
6. Kyauk Kyaw (Jelly Dessert)
Kyauk Kyaw is a gelatin-free Burmese jelly dessert with two or more distinct layers: a white, creamy coconut layer and a transparent water layer, with optional additional colored layers.
The ingredients are coconut milk, agar-agar (strands or powder), water, sugar and salt. Coconut Kyauk Kyaw is a refreshing treat that is usually cut into square or diamond-shaped slices and enjoyed chilled on a hot day.
7. Mont Kywe Thae (Rice Cake Pudding)
Mont Kywe Thae, translated as ‘buffalo liver cake,’ is a traditional Burmese snack and a popular dessert. It is a rice cake pudding made from rice flour, jaggery, salt and alkaline limewater. After cooking, the pudding is served sliced, with the slices garnished with coconut shavings. It is often served after lunch.
8. Htanthi Mont (Toddy Fruit Cake)
Another seasonal dessert is Htanthi Mont, one of the most popular traditional Burmese desserts. It is a steamed rice cake made with pulverized cooked rice or rice flour, coconut milk, baking soda, sugar and the kernels of ripe toddy fruits.
This dessert is in high demand when the toddy fruits are ripe in the central area of Myanmar. Among toddy fruit cakes, Yesagyo Htanthi Mont is the most famous and a delicacy of the Bagan area.
9. Mont Let Kauk (Chewy Rice Snack)
Mont Let Kauk, translated as ‘bracelet snack,’ is often compared to the doughnut because of its shape and the basic concept of being sweet and chewy. But the big difference is that Mont Let Kauk is made using rice flour and glutinous rice flour, which makes it very chewy.
The sweetness comes from toddy jaggery syrup, which is used as a sauce. Without this sweet syrup, the Mont Let Kauk would just taste glutinous.
10. Mont Si Kyaw (Toddy Palm Jaggery Pancake)
Mont Si Kyaw is a sweet and sticky rice pancake flavored with toddy palm jaggery, peanuts, sesame and coconut. It is chewy in the middle but crisp around the edges.
It’s eaten throughout the year, but especially during the Waso festival, Full Moon Day, which usually takes place in July and marks the beginning of Wasso, Buddhist lent.
11. Kayaykayar (Sticky Rice and Syrup Dessert)
Kayaykayar is a popular dessert made of sticky rice flour mixed with toddy palm or sugar syrup. It is available at pagoda festivals throughout the country. It is not only served to friends and relatives who visit from other places, but it is also given as a homecoming gift.
12. Pauk Pauk Sote (Popped Rice Balls)
This dessert snack, usually served in every Burmese household during festivals, is a popular but seasonal product of the central dry zone of Myanmar. It is also served at donation ceremonies and pagoda festivals.
It is made by forming into a ball popped rice and white toddy jaggery. Both children and adults love this snack, which is sometimes served together with Kayaykayar (#11 on this list).
13. Nga Pyaw Baung (Banana Pudding)
Nga Pyaw Baung, banana pudding, is a traditional dessert and snack of Myanmar and consists of local fresh bananas stewed in milk, coconut milk and sugar, then garnished with sesame seeds or poppy seeds. This dessert is easy and quick to make, and is mostly served at ceremonies and other special occasions.
14. Shwe Yin Aye (Rice and Jelly Dessert)
Shwe Yin Aye, translated as ‘golden heart cooler,’ is a traditional and very popular cold dessert, with its name hinting at its refreshing nature.
It is loved particularly for its refreshing taste during the hot summer season. Sweet, creamy and rich, this specialty is made by combining steamed sticky rice, sago or tapioca pearls, tapioca sticks, cendol jelly noodles, agar-agar powder, sugar syrup and chilled coconut milk.
15. Mont Let Saung (Coconut Milk Drink)
Mont Let Saung is a popular dessert drink made with sago, coconut milk, toddy palm jaggery syrup and optional tapioca. It is a favorite drink amongst all ages in both rural and urban areas because the syrup is both sweet and surprisingly refreshing. It is served at the annual water festival, and you will also find it being sold by vendors on every street corner during the summer season.
In Myanmar, there is a large variety of desserts, and you will never forget how delicious they are even if you taste them just once. Reading this article, you might have noticed that most of the desserts are based on rice and toddy jaggery. This is because Myanmar is a rice-eating country with plenty of toddy palm trees in the central dry zone.
Although some of the desserts are difficult and time consuming to prepare, there are many food places that serve traditional, freshly prepared desserts that will satisfy any sweet tooth. Traditional desserts can also be purchased in grocery stores.
Related: Most Popular Burmese Foods