14 Vegan-Friendly Dishes to Try in Cambodia [Free Recipes & Translation Sheet]

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Vegan Food Cambodia

 

IN total I spent ten days recently travelling around Cambodia and was pleasantly surprised by the unbelievably tasty authentic Cambodian options for vegans, which I have outlined for you in the rest of this blog. Some of the dishes I have listed were taken straight from the Mondulkiri Province abundant in countryside and rainforests, and others are popular around the areas of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

 

Rushed for time? Download the free PDF of delicious vegan Cambodian recipes, as well as a helpful translation and pronunciation sheet for when you are out dining or trying to purchase street food (see 9-page preview below):

A little bit about Cambodian Cuisine…

Khmer cuisine is differentiated from other cuisines by its incorporation of local aromatic herbs and spices like lemongrass, ginger, mint, and kaffir lime leaves. Seasoning food with lots of black pepper, salt, and lime juice is also a longstanding tradition. Cambodian food is also well-known for dishes with contrasting flavours. Tropical national fruits such as mango and pineapple are often incorporated into savory dishes. There is no wonder I have fallen involve with the Cambodian Cuisine. With its mix of citrus, sweet, sour flavours and mild spices, it ticks all the right boxes!

As a free gift to you, I have created a Vegan Cambodian Recipe e-book containing a few of the famous dishes included in this blog post, which you can download using the link at either the beginning or the end of the post (all you need to do is subscribe to Vibrant Yogini and the instant download link will appear).

Subsequently, as a helpful additional bonus, I have also created a go-to translation sheet for both vegans and vegetarians with popular phrases to use when dining out. The sheet includes helpful word pronunciations too – especially useful if you are trying to explain what you can and can’t eat!

 

 

Local Cambodian Food Markets

Cambodian Food Market
PC: Dean Bennett Photography

During my travels around Cambodia, I immersed myself in the culture by visiting the crowded local food markets in the mornings, and only ever eating Cambodian cuisine for the entire trip. I witnessed locals visiting the food markets daily and getting stuck in to touching the produce by hand to meticulously choose their raw ingredients for the days meals.

Strolling through the night markets of Siem Reap in the evenings, and getting lost in the famous Russian market of Phnom Penh, I felt excited that there was an array of sweet treats and Cambodian snacks to try that were also vegan-friendly.

I even found mobile street stalls at the edge of countryside roads during our long trips out to the jungle and across the country. It was satisfying to see that vegans and vegetarians will not struggle to eat in Cambodia.

 

Jungle Life

Cambodian Jungle Hill Tribe Picnic

One of the highlights of my trip was learning about the jungle food survival way of life. Spending a few nights in the jungle of the Mondulkiri province, I learned from a native how traditional hill tribes survive from rainforest resources (keep an eye out for my future blog post on the Mondulkiri Project to learn more about jungle life and the fantastic work Mr. Tree is doing to save Cambodia’s natural rainforest and the Elephants). Life seemed very simple, tough and back to basics.

While sipping on a local Keffir Lime Leaf Tea in the nature tree lodge I was staying in, I watched as a local tribesman climbed to the treetops, holding a long rod with a wicker basket hanging from the end. He used this to knock avocados from the trees in to the basket. The same was done for limes, and most other ingredients available within the rainforest. I pondered whether people back in Europe really understand the extent of the struggles, sweat and efforts that are put in to sourcing their supermarket ‘fresh’ vegetables, fruit and spices…

On a walk through the jungle, a hill tribesman pointed out several plants and was in disbelief that us Westerner’s had no idea how to identify a Taro leaf within the thickness of the rainforest. He reminded us that the leaf was obviously used to wrap rice for cooking, and the root for soups and broths. I was in awe at how resourceful these rainforest inhabitants are.

 

 

Authentic Cambodian Dishes

Subscribers can use the free recipe ebook (available to download at either the beginning or the end of the post -all you need to do is subscribe to Vibrant Yogini and the instant download link will appear) to cook a few of the delicious Cambodian national dishes listed below.

 

APPETIZERS

1. Nime Chow (Fresh Cambodian Spring Rolls with Peanut Dressing)

Cambodian Fresh Spring Rolls

My absolute favourite snack of the trip! These nutrient packed spring rolls are prepared and served fresh rather than deep-fried like other types of spring rolls. Rice noodle paper wraps around shreds of lettuce, cucumber, mint, chive leaf, pineapple and basil. Traditionally, peanut dipping sauce is served on the side. Typically they use nam pla (fish sauce) in this dish, however you can use the free translation sheet to ask for no fish sauce and to explain that you are vegan.

 

2. Nyorm Kroit Tlong (Pomelo Salad)

Cambodian Pomelo Salad

Pomelo fruits are native to South East Asia and are in the same family as the grapefruit and orange. It has a refreshingly sweet and sour taste. The first time I tried it, I was addicted and have never left one drop left on my plate since, it is that tasty! The salad contains pomelo, long beans, abalone mushrooms, lotus root, peanuts, mint, lemon basil, toasted coconut, deep-fried shallots and beans tossed in Khmer dressing. I have included this dish in the free recipe e-book available for download. If there was one Cambodian dish to try, I would absolutely recommend the pomelo salad! What’s more, the pomelo fruit is rich in health benefits:

  • Contains lots of vitamin C: helping to fight infections and diseases, as well as being great for anti-aging.
  • Great source of potassium: promotes increased blood circulation, lowering the risk of heart problems. Also reduces muscle cramping to give you a speedy recovery from exercising.
  • Used to cure fever, treat coughs, relieve sore throats, and treat insomnia.
  • Contains a fat-burning enzyme that is not found in many foods: assisting weight loss.

 

3. Lotus Root Salad

Cambodian Cuisine Lotus Salad

When I first saw this dish on the menu, the incorporation of ‘lotus’ is so symbolic to yoga that it automatically won my heart over. However, it did seem very unusual for me to be eating part of a lotus plant, as the lotus is such an important flower in Buddhism. For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of tasting it, I will not give too much away, but it has a slightly bitter taste with a crispy texture when eaten raw in salads. Did you know that lotus root is exceptionally healthy too?:

  • High in vitamin C: boosts and strengthens the immune system and produces collagen for anti-aging.
  • Moderate level of vitamin B-6 -gives relief from headaches and stress and stimulates blood circulation.
  • Vitamin A content: improves the health of the skin, hair, and eyes; helps wounds heal faster; and clears up skin conditions and inflammation.

 

4. Cambodian Green Mango Salad

Cambodian Green Mango Salad

A crunchy, healthy salad with a naturally zesty flavour. This dish traditionally contains fish sauce, but you can use the free translation sheet to ask for soy sauce instead and explain that you are vegan. The salad contains lime, mango, tomatoes, shallots, cucumber, green onion, peppers and basil. Unlike the spicy Thai version, this mango salad is much more tastebud friendly being very mild. Sweet mangos are found everywhere in Cambodia and are also very good for your health:

  • Contains antioxidants that fight colon, breast, leukaemia and prostate cancers.
  • Rich in pre-biotic dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals which helps to aid digestion.
  • High in glutamine acid– an important protein for concentration and memory.

 

 

MAIN DISHES

5. Somlar Kari (Green Vegetable Curry)

Cambodian Green Curry

I absolutely love eating green curry, however I have always only ever tried the Thai version, which tastes slightly spicier. But, if I really have to choose, Khmer green curry has my winning vote with its gorgeous rich and creamy flavours oozing around the unique and mild Cambodian kroeung spices. The dish includes long bean, eggplant, pineapple, sweet potato, and basil in Khmer Khroeung and coconut cream. They usually serve this dish with a small portion of jasmine rice in Cambodian restaurants.

 

6. Eggplant with Sesame Dressing

Cambodian Cuisine Eggplant

A mixture of grilled eggplant, cression, cucumber, tomato, deep-fried shallots, bean sprouts with vermicelli noodles and peanut sesame dressing. When I arrived in Cambodia, the very first restaurant I ate lunch in had limited vegetarian options and I didnt yet know any Cambodian phrases to explain (hence my creation of the dining language translation sheet to help you out!). However, I was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful flavours that brought this quite ‘normal’ sounding dish to life. The spices Cambodian dishes use to pimp up a dish, in my experience, are particularly special.

 

7. Vegetable Amok

PC: Never Ending Voyage

The national dish of Cambodia, Amok is given special status and is highly treasured. Named after the banana leaves it was traditionally served in, Amok gets its signature flavor from kroeung, an aromatic curry paste made with lemongrass, galangal, fresh turmeric, shallots, garlic, and a little chili. The kroeung is mixed with coconut milk, which turns a beautiful golden yellow. Other additions to the dish include sweet potato, vegetables and kaffir lime leaves before it is steamed in banana leaf bowls above a stove. Traditionally Amok is also stewed with fish, however, the free translation guide can be used to ask for a vegan style Amok without fish. I have included a vegan friendly version of this dish in the free recipe e-book available for download.

 

8. Five Vegetable Stir-Fry

Cambodian Cuisine Stirfry

This was my go-to dish at a few places that were not so vegetarian-friendly. I really enjoy my vegetables, and I loved the flavours they stir-fry the vegetables in. The dish usually contains a combination of fried red peppers, onion, broccoli, carrots and red cabbage/ cauliflower. Again, the dish usually contains nam pla (fish sauce). However, you can simply ask for no fish sauce and explain that you are vegan by downloading the free translation sheet at the end of this blog. The dish is usually served with a portion of jasmine rice, as in the photo.

 

9. Cambodian Noodle Salad

Cambodian Cuisine Noodles
PC: Never Ending Voyage

A simple and light noodle salad with an addictive mix of spicy, sweet, sour, and salty flavours. Perfect for hot humid days! The dish traditionally contains fish sauce, but again, you can use the translation sheet to ask for it without. Soy sauce, chilli, lime juice and brown sugar are combined and then tossed with the noodles, cabbage, and mint. Not forgetting the peanut garnish!

 

10. Kho Manor Nung To Hu

Cambodian Cuisine Kho Manor Nung To Hu

Sweet flavours are mixed with savoury in this super delicious tasting concoction! Fresh pineapple is caramelised in sugar and then combined together with fried tofu, garlic, soy sauce, and scallions. Simple but decadent! I always felt like I was indulging when ordering this mouth watering dish.

 

 

DESSERTS

11. Domlong An / Noum Domlong Barang

Cambodian Domlong An / Noum Domlong Barang. photo credit: https://www.neverendingvoyage.com
PC: Never Ending Voyage

This was a street market food favourite of mine and a popular Cambodian treat. Quite simply it is grilled sweet potato and coconut patties. Extremely tasty!

 

12. Kralan

Cambodian Krulan photo credit: https://www.neverendingvoyage.com
PC: Never Ending Voyage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Cambodian street market food delicacy and perfect for fellow coconut lovers! The tasty treat is toasted bamboo tubes stuffed with sticky rice, red beans, grated coconut and coconut milk.

 

13. Tcheck An

Cambodian Fried Banana
PC: Dean Bennett Photography

Fried bananas on a stick could be found all over the Cambodian street markets. So simple, yet so popular. This one I am definitely taking away with me on my future travels. The bananas taste sweeter once fried. Naughty but nice!

 

14. Sugar Palm Sweets

Cambodian Sugar Cane
PC: Dean Bennett Photography

Not the healthiest of foods but it had to be included as Cambodia is home to a vast sugarpalm farming industry. The locals will collect palm water and pour it into a large cooking pan. It is then boiled and stirred until the paste turns white. Cut bamboo tubes are used to place the caramelised sugarpalm inside until it dries to form small sugarpalm sweets. I tried this on a roadside when travelling to the Kulen waterfall. The texture and taste is similar to a sweet biscuit.

 

BONUS TREAT!

15. Khmer Pancakes

Cambodian Pancakes

Strictly Vegetarian (sorry vegans!). This was a breakfast favourite of mine while staying at the Cambodian jungle tree lodge, but it makes a great dessert option too! Whole wheat pancakes with organic banana, yellow raisins, Mondulkiri honey, clove and cinnamon, all taken fresh from the rainforest! I have included a vegan friendly version of this dish in the free recipe e-book available to download below:

 

Connect with Vibrant Yogini

Have you tried any other delicious Cambodian vegan dishes or delicacies? Write your suggestions in the comments below.

Try out the vegan recipes in the free Cambodian recipe e-book. I would love to see your culinary skills! Or, if you are eating Cambodian cuisine I would love to see! Take a picture and post it to the Facebook Group or tag Vibrant Yogini on Instagram or Twitter!

Sign up to Vibrant Yogini and be kept in the loop with future news, blog posts, videos, offers and more:

 

Wishing you tasty and delicious travels!

Namaste

Vibrant Yogini Signature

P.S. Advice from a hill tribesman: if for any reason during your visit to Cambodia you suffer from an upset stomach, such as diarrhea, the most natural way of healing this is to find guava plant, boil the roots and leaves and then drink the water!

 


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54 thoughts on “14 Vegan-Friendly Dishes to Try in Cambodia [Free Recipes & Translation Sheet]”

  1. Wow! Vegetable amok looks like an Indian sauce. I love the green mango salad. It looks yummy. I have a friend there who is a soccer player, I would love to visit Cambodia.

    1. The spices are divine! I highly recommend a visit to Cambodia. Be sure not to miss the breathtaking ancient temples of Siem Reap and if you have time, visit the jungle in Mondulkiri and see the rescued elephants roaming in the wild. I really enjoyed by time in Cambodia and would definitely return! Namaste 🙂

  2. Thank you very much for sharing this informative compilation. I am not a vegan but there are some days when I take only vegetarian. This will come in handy!

  3. These dishes look so delicious!!! I cannot even pick a favorite. The pancakes look great and healthy even though they aren’t traditional Cambodian food. SPRING ROLLS ARE A DREAM AND ALL THE FRESH FOOD MARKETS ARE A DREAM OF MINE TO VISIT!

  4. The mango salad looks absolutely delicious, as do many of the other dishes as well, I will have to download and try some of these as I’m sure the ingredients can be found here in Indonesia 🙂 Love that you spent some time in the jungle learning about the traditional ways! #feetdotravel

  5. Wow! You definitely ate better than me in Cambodia! I was there for a bit over 2 weeks and I admit that Khmer food wasn’t my favorite. But the foods that you’ve selected here all look sooo good! Especially the sound of that pomelo salad! And what an amazing experience you had in the jungle!

  6. I am planning to visit Cambodia after my Vietnam trip, haven’t plan the date yet. Thanks for the food trail, gonna not for reference.

  7. mmm yummy, all the dishes looks super delicious. Thanks for the recipes! I will certainly try to make at least one or two of the dishes, if only I will be able to find all of the ingredients.

  8. Bad idea for me to read this so close to lunch time, especially since I have nothing that looks nearly this yummy!!

    Thanks for the food envy,

    Nadalie
    Nadalie, It’s All You Boo
    NEW POST: When You Just Don’t Feel Like It

  9. Fantastic post and recipes. So much amazing Cambodian food and I feel like I experienced only a fraction of it! Definitely need to go back and experience it properly. Thanks for sharing

  10. I am vegan and I love to read this kind of articles because I wanna través around the world and meer beautiful countries with delicious food, thanks a lot, Im gonna put it on my check list.

    1. Hi Cynthia, thank you for your comment. Yes I am completely pro the health benefits of the vegan diet. It is my aim to find all the most delicious and authentic vegan friendly foods I can while I travel the world to help others who want to enjoy staying on top of their health and diet while travelling 🙂 I will be writing more similar posts from different countries soon! So you will have plenty of choice for your next travels 🙂 Namaste!

  11. I am not vegan. Even actually really meat lover. But these dishes look so appetizing… Now i’m hungry lol.
    Seriously i should recommend this article for my veganed friends 😉

  12. I am not vegan, but I love my veggies and all of those dishes look incredible to me especially those banana pancakes- I am so going to make those! I love the lady in the first pic, who is dressed like a little watermelon. Delicious post 🙂

  13. Yum! I’m not strictly vegan, but trying to add more recipes to my rotation. Definitely adding a few of these 🙂

  14. I really love your photos! I’m not vegan but it’s always good to know there is meat-free food available, sometimes you don’t know what the food is… Thank you for sharing!

  15. Cambodian kitchen seems to be similar to Thai which I love ! They have the best food markets over there in SE Asia, the fruit are amazing! All those things you showed here makes me so hungry! I feel like green mango salad would be my favourite !

  16. Wow, such great information on Cambodia food for vegans and non-vegans. I wish I had the e-book and this article on my last trip to Cambodia. I am vegetarian and my favorite is the Khmer Pancakes. Love how you explained each dish. Great photos 🙂 #feetdotravel

  17. What an amazing post!!! I’m not vegan, but I do love eating vegan meals and sides all the time. I love the PDF you offer, too!!! What a great roundup of recipes. I can’t wait to try these and I love how you included some nutrition info as well (:

  18. I am not a full time vegan by any means. But occasionally I want to only eat vegan meals. Mostly in the summer because I want lighter faire. Cambodian recipes are definitely recipes I would try based on your explanation in this post. Thank you!

  19. Yum!! Everything looks SO good…and we’re not even vegetarian! Kralan is definitely one of our favorite snacks. There is a lot here that we haven’t tried, though, so we have lots to look forward to! Thanks for sharing!

  20. Wow, you certainly immersed yourself in the Cambodian food culture. Of the vegan dishes you photographed Green Mango Salad or Kymer Pancakes looked the most delicious, although I would love to try them all. You proved that Cambodia is a Vegan foodie heaven!

  21. Great post! Thanks for sharing it with us! We thought that we knew about Cambodian food but your post made us realised that we need to go back to Cambodia and try all the dishes that you listed! Thanks for sharing the recipes too! Very useful 🙂 Keep up the great work! Patrick and Cécile

  22. This post got our mouths watering! We love exploring the local markets and trying the different foods. Not visited Cambodia but would love to some day. Great photography too! Have pinned for future reference. #feetdotravel

  23. Khmer food is delicious! we loved it when we visited in November last year. Out of the dishes you’ve featured we tried the vegetable amok (which was everywhere) and the lotus root salad. Thanks for sharing, I wish we’d had your guide before we went! I feel hungry now 🙂

  24. Wow! I didn’t know Cambodia was vegan HEAVEN! I’m not vegan but these dishes all looked appetizing. I wonder how difficult it would be to find some of these ingredients in my area…

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