If you are planning a trip to Tibet, you are more likely to witness magnificent monasteries, quaint villages, prayer halls of chanting monks, jaw-dropping views of the world's highest mountains and super welcoming and hospitable people. But, if you are a true foodie, just like us, the highlight of your trip would be its different yet delicious food items. The Tibetan food culture is heavily influenced by its neighbours - majorly Indian and Nepalese - so the food you would be eating will not be so unfamiliar. However, the food in Tibet has a unique, nomadic character, which makes it even more special for gourmets who love special food. Here are the top 5 Tibetan dishes every food lover must try:
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2. Tibetan Momo
You ask about Tibetan food, the first thing people will tell you to try is tsampa (pronounced as 'sampa'). Unique in character, tsampa is flour with a nutty taste, which is made from roasted barley. It is an integral part of Tibetan culture, which is why it gets a special place in the menu during many Buddhist festivals. At the time of festive feast, tsampa is traditionally thrown into the air as an offering to the animistic gods to seek blessings. In Tibetan Buddhist tradition today, the tsampa throwing is a mark of joy and celebration.
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Tibetan momo, also known as Tibetan dumpling, is yet another contender for the title of 'Unofficial National Dish' of Tibet. Even though the dish can be seen in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and Darjeeling in India, its origin is Tibet. Tibetan momos are usually steamed with a filling made of meat or vegetables. The most common form of Tibetan momo is steamed, however, you can find other varieties of these yummy delights like fried momos or momos cooked in soup. In Tibet, momos are family gastronomic treat, which are cooked and eaten together in the family kitchen. Tibetans like to pair their momos with a dipping sauce called achhar, which is made with tomato as the base ingredient.
3. Yak Meat
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Yaks are one of the most common animals found in the Tibetan Plateau. You will see them in rural side of Tibet against a picturesque background of mountains, lakes and plains. Yak meat is one of the staple foods of Tibetan cuisine. Yak meat is a naturally lean, high-protein meat with a great balance of fatty acids.
4. Tibetan Yogurt
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Tibetan yogurt, also known as "sho", is very different from the regular yogurt. Made from yak milk, Tibetan yogurt is much creamier than cow yogurt. Since its flavour is strong, you can add some sugar to it. The locals relish it with brown sugar, with warm steamed rice, or boiled wild sweet potato root with garlic, chili powder and salt, or with tsampa dough.
5. Tibetan Noodles
In Tibet, rice is grown in lower regions in very limited amounts; therefore, the Tibetan cuisine is heavily dependent on noodles. Noodles are as popular as tsampa in Tibet. The most popular Tibetan noodle dish is thukpa. Thukpa is not a specific dish name but a word that defines any soup or stew combined with noodles. Another common noodle dish is laping, which is a street food eaten during summer time. Laping is seasoned with red chili peppers, chili oil, cilantro, scallions, and a great amount of garlic.
To get enough protein and energy to be able to survive the harsh weather on the mountains, Tibetans prefer to eat yak or sheep. So try these dishes and make the most of the Tibetan cuisine.