When you think of Tibet, you tend to think of the Dalai Lama and the political conflicts of the region. However, Tibet is a beautiful place to travel too! And there’s one aspect which makes the travel there more interesting – that’s right – the food! Tibetan cuisine has unique flavours and a taste that stays with you. As it is situated between India and Nepal, some of its dishes are inspired by India and Nepal. However, it also has some unique dishes of its own as well. The reason for this uniqueness is the rough terrain and the food grains and meat available in Tibet. So, let’s dive headfirst into the world of Tibetan cuisine!
What are the common products used to make Tibetan cuisine?
One of the reasons for the characteristic flavours of Tibetan cuisine is the ingredients used in it. The most common grain used to make the bread is barley. Barley has a very distinct taste for those of us used to wheat based products. Therefore, it really is a rich new flavour to experience. Flour milled from Barley is called tsampa, and is a staple food of Tibetans. Milk, yak’s and goat meat is used quite a bit in making the dishes. The cheese, yoghurt and other milk products made from these dishes are quite famous for their different taste.
Tibetan Cuisine has sweet dishes too which again are very different from what you might be used to. The sweet flavour is given with the help of dry fruits and brown sugar. Mustard seeds are also commonly used to prepare the food.
Some famous dishes of Tibetan Cuisine
Let’s start with what you may already have heard of and even eaten: Momos. Well, there’s a Tibetan version of momos which is twice the size, with a thicker covering and hotter sauces! It’s called Thaipo. If you’re a beverage person, you should try the famous butter tea. This tea helped Tibetans keep up stamina for centuries in those high altitudes. It is even famous with hikers today. It helps them recover after a long and arduous trail. The regular tea made with yak milk is also quite tasty and worth trying. For alcoholic beverages, you may want to try the beer and wine locally brewed from barley and other grains.
If you are the daring type, you can try the blood sausage which contains a melange of yak and sheep blood. There are also some famous roasted rat dishes. If you want to stay within a normal range of food, there’s air-dried beef which is also known as beef jerky. Staple Tibetan food includes porridge and some chicken in the pot soup. For the vegans, some famous vegetarian options are bean noodles, wheat and pea dishes too,
Of course, who can forget Desserts!
The desserts are tempting too. Tu is a cheesecake pastry. Massan is a pastry made with tsampa and cheese curd. Dre-si is a sweet dish of the Tibetan cuisine using rice. This is especially used in the new year celebrations. Khapsey is Tibetan biscuits or cookies that are deep-fried. They are also used for special occasions.
One really interesting dish or mouth-freshener is Churpi. Made from Yak milk, Churpi is usually available in two variants – hard and soft – depending on how much it has been dried. Additionally, It helps to the mouth and body warm. It is quite rich in nutrients and is great for the gums and teeth!
These are just a few handpicked dishes, but Tibetan cuisine is full of other culinary surprises. The best way to get a taste of it all is to visit Tibet itself. Not only is the food a great treat, but also, the scenic beauty is quite breathtaking! If you have been there or tasted any Tibetan cuisine worth mention, do let us know in the comments!
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