Tibetan food culture is heavily influenced by it’s neighboring countries so the food you eat will be unfamiliar. Tibetans have developed their unique diet living on the inhospitable Tibetan plateau with an average altitude of above 4000 meters on the distinctive natural resources available. So Tibetan cuisines are very much shaped by it’s alpine environment, profound Tibetan Buddhism and influences of neighboring Indian and Nepal. While on a Tibet tour it’s never complete without tasting some Tibetan exotic delicacies. The following are most popular foods not to be missed while touring Tibet.
Tsampa (barley flour) is the Tibetan staple food made of highland barley. The auspicious Tsamp flour is tossed high above the air during Tibetn New Year ‘Losar’ to pray for peace and prosperity. Tsampa normally is eaten with salty Tibetan butter tea.
Tibetan Yak Meat
The most frequently seen livestock in Tibet are Yaks. Yaks are tough living in elevations of 3500 to 5300 meters with their red blood cells being three times more than normal cows. Their high-calorie and nutritious meat is the trademark of Tibetan dishes. Yak meats are normally shredded with adding salt and other natural seasonings and hanged on a rope to air dry.
Though looking like the traditional Chinese dumpling, Tibetan Momo takes different forms. Tibetan momos could be round and crescent. Yak meat is often is used as the filling. For the vegetarians’ cabbages, onions and mushrooms etc. are widely used ingredients for making Tibetan momo. In Tibetan restaurants, the most common Tibetan momo is the steamed and fried ones sometimes seen with soup as well and served with spicy sauce or dressing and cucumber.
Tibetan Noodle Soup (Thukpa)
Another popular Tibetan food, Tibetan noodles are made by mixing the wheat flour and edible alkaline water. Then press dough into noodles with a machine. These noodles are boiled and served in a bowl with tasty bone broth, shredded yak meat and some vegetable soup.
Local Tibetan take Tibetan yogurt as the favorite pastime. A creamy and white Tibetan yogurt sprinkled with lovely raisins can be seen either in restaurants or small street stands. Tibetan yogurt is fermented with Tibetan yak milk without harmful food additives.
Dre-si is normally eaten during the Tibetan New Year but interestingly, not many Tibetan desserts can be found in Tibetan restaurants. The ingredients involve Droma (kind of nutritious guard shaped root) and butter broth and sugar. Dre-si is widely taken as an auspicious dish
Travel Tips: Tibetans have no interest in fish largely because the old tradition that when the Tibetans, esp. infants died, their bodies would be expected to be disposed into the river. Therefore, normally Tibetans never eat fish.
Tibetan Butter Tea
One can see drinking Tibetan butter tea with Tsampa is the most iconic scene of Tibetan daily life. In the hostile environment of the Tibetan plateau, butter tea is much better which consist of tea leave, yak