Food has always been an essential part of my travels. I love trying the local cuisines, street food and the authentic flavours of any new place I visit. My trip to Ladakh was no exception. Ladakh not only offers spectacular views and a rich cultural dip, but also lip smacking flavours that will leave you craving for more. Cuisines of Ladakh are perfectly designed to provide nutrition, taste and comfort in the extreme climate of the land.
Thukpa is a simple yet nutritious dish and is considered to be a complete meal. Originated in Tibet, it is a soupy noodle dish made with olive oil, hand-made noodles, assorted vegetables, minced chicken or mutton and chicken stock. The vegetarian version replaces chicken and chicken stock with noodle soup or vegetable stock. Ginger, garlic, green chillies and various aromatic spices are added to enhance the flavour and taste.
Khambir is a pan-shaped crispy bread made with wheat flour baked to perfection. It is an essential part of the daily meals in Ladakh. It goes as a side dish with most of their dishes. It can be consumed with butter tea, stews, soups and even with eggs and jam. Owing to its thickness and size, Khambir is a very filling bread.
3. Butter Tea
Now, this is a signature drink of Ladakh you must try. You may not find it available in restaurants. You can ask your hotel staff to arrange it for you. It is a drink made in every Ladakhi home and is an essential part of their daily routine. Butter tea is made by boiling pink tea leaves in water for a few hours and then adding salt to it. It is then mixed with milk and topped with butter. The mixture is stirred for long enough to achieve the consistency of a stew. The butter that is added to the tea is generally the Yak milk butter. Butter tea is a warm drink that helps regulate the body temperature. Butter protects the lips from getting chapped in the dry weather and the salt prevents you from altitude sickness.
Chahng is an indispensable part of the social life of the people of Ladakh. It is a barley based local alcoholic drink frequently use in their social gatherings. The process of making Chhang involves boiling, cooling and fermentation of barley. The liquid is then filtered and blended to perfection. Chhang contains 5 to 7% of alcohol. So, do try this local beverage and get a little high.
5. Apricot & Sea Buckthorn Juice
Apricot and Sea Buckthorn grow in abundance in Ladakh and their juice is readily available in bottles in almost all grocery shops and restaurants. The juice is locally produced and it tastes super fresh and delicious.
Tingmo is a bun-shaped steamed bread made from fermented wheat flour. It is spicy, soft, fluffy and delicate, and generally served with vegetarian or non-vegetarian stews. The spices in the bread helps maintain the body temperature in the chills of Ladakh.
Chhurpe is a yak milk cheese locally produced and consumed in abundance in Ladakh. It is available in soft and hard form. The soft cheese has sweet, plain and salty options, and it can be paired with Khambir or crispy crackers. The hard form of Chhurpe is chewed like a betel nut.
Have you ever tried any of these dishes? Please leave a comment below about your thoughts on this post. Thanks you for reading.