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Written by Raima Raj
23 Mar, 2023
To embark on a journey like a true traveler means to explore the culture of a place in all its depth and food is that indispensable part of the journey that lets you peek right into it. Much lesser in spice but brimming with flavors, Ladakhi Cuisine is largely different from other types of Indian cuisine. For every traveler who is also a foodie, we have prepared a brief guide that gives you an intriguing insight into the Famous Foods of Ladakh.
Being one of the highest inhabited lands in India, the scope for vegetation is scarce and so the people rely on tsampa i.e Barley Flour. It is the basic ingredient for most of the dishes savored here. Sharing a major chunk of its border with Tibet in the east the people of Ladakh have long been influenced by the Tibetan culture and that perfectly reflects in the soulful dishes the place has to offer. A trip to Ladakh is incomplete without indulging in its delectable cuisine and this guide will help you do so with ease!
One of the most commonly available and preferred dishes in the region, a bowl of Thukpa directly hits the soul! Derived from the word ‘ heart’ (Thuk) itself, it is basically a noodle soup served with an assortment of boiled veggies like carrot, cabbage, beans, etc, or finely chopped meat, mostly chicken. To enhance the taste of the same a side of red chili paste is given that perfectly adds to it a tangy sweet flavor.
Thukpa is of many types like Thenthuk – flat cut noodles, Pathug – hand rolled bow tie shaped pasta, or Gyathuk also known as Chinese noodles. Being one of the most wholesome local dishes of Ladakh, it is freshly and commonly available in most restaurants and cafes.
Where to find: Tenzin Dickey Tibetan Restaurant
Momos are a classic delight all over India but undoubtedly taste best from where it has gained popularity! They are basically modestly flavored fillings of veggies or minced meat wrapped in a thin layer of dough and boiled in ‘Motko’, served with a side of chili chutney and a cup of soup. A plate of these soft and juicy dumplings will simply leave you craving for more. Mokthuk is also a kind of momo-based delicacy where the dumplings are soaked in a bowl of soup and is surely a must-try dish in Ladakh.
Where to find: Ladakh Himalayan Kitchen
Must read: The Best Places to eat in Ladakh
A winter favorite, Skyu is a Ladakhi specialty stew whose recipe has remained unchanged for ages. It is made with thump-pressed little round pieces of dough slowly cooked in a vegetable broth and garnished with herbs and spices. The very fragrance of Skyu being cooked infiltrates the room. Sometimes goat milk is also added to the broth giving it a slightly creamy texture and enhancing the overall taste. All in all, along with great taste it is also one of the healthiest most nutritious dishes.
Where to find: Wanderers Terrace and Café, Leh
Must Watch: Visual Anecdotes from Ladakh!
Ladakhi Cuisine is incomplete without Tingmo! Resembling a bun, it is an intricately layered steamed Tibetan bread that is very light and fluffy in texture and absorbs the taste of any curry it is dipped in. It is the staple diet of the locals and can be eaten at any time of the day. It is most usually savored with dal, and meat and goes excellently well with stew!
Where to find: Lamayuru Restaurant
( Chu – water, Tagi – bread) is a highly nutritious and delectable dish that energizes and fills. It is made from barley wheat dough cut into palm-sized circles and then given the shape of a bow-tie pasta that is cooked in hearty soup laced with herbs, leafy vegetables, potato, carrots and peas. Onion, Garlic, and Ginger sauté in mustard oil when garnished with yak milk cheese add in flavor and thickness to the soup. For those who prefer meat, an equally healthy mutton variant is also available.
Where to find: Alchi Kitchen, Monastery road.
Like Roti is to the rest of India, Khambir is to Ladakh. It is made from fermented dough, rolled into circles, and baked to perfection. Unlike normal roti, this has a much thicker and crispier crust and can be stored for several days. Mostly paired with butter chai and served as breakfast, this duo goes sumptuously well and is definitely a must-try treat. One can also pair it with a bowl of vegetable or meat curry.
Where to find: De Khambir, Zangsti Road
Suggested Read: Undiscovered Gems Of Ladakh
An age-old preferred lunch of the natives, this particular local food of Ladakh needs an acquired taste. Paba is a type of boiled bread made with roasted barley flour kneaded with a pinch of salt and peas or black beans. It is simple yet satiating when served with a side of Thanthur, kind of a gravy made with buttermilk adorned with coriander leaves and jeera tadka.
Where to find? Chimath Tibetan Kitchen, Leh main market
Commonly known as Butter Tea, this variant of ‘pahado wali chai ‘ is the most unique and flavorful! Just as cute as the name, this chai is made with butter that provides warmth and hydrates, and pink salt added in the milk also gives it a unique peachy color. An integral beverage while exploring the famous foods of Ladakh, no festival in the region is complete without a cup of steaming gur gur chai!
Where to find? Amdo Café
There are not many fruits and nuts that can grow in extreme weather conditions, however, walnuts, apples, and especially Apricots thrive by the rivers here. Extremely fresh and tender Apricot Juice & Jams are a must-have while exploring the famous foods of Ladakh. Chulli (apricot) Jam tastes absolutely delectable when spread on freshly baked Khambir and served with a side of Gur Gur Chai!
Where to find? Ladags Apricot Store
Recommended read: Ladakh Trivia – Interesting facts you didn’t know!
With this, we conclude our list of some of the best Foods of Ladakh. As a land rich in culture, Ladakhi cuisine has more options than what we’ve mentioned and to indulge in it is something that you’ve to tick off your bucket list.
Every traveler has a foodie hidden within and we hope that Ladakh doesn’t just amaze you with its panoramic vistas but also its authentic taste. If your mouth is watering already, then we recommend you start planning a trip to Ladakh to satiate your taste buds.
If you are planning a trip to Ladakh anytime soon, gear up yourselves because apart from delectable food here’s also a list of The Best Places you can visit in Ladakh!
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