Traditional Food of Ladakh: A Tantalizing Tale!

Bounded by Himachal Pradesh on the South, Pakistan-administered Gilgit-Baltistan and union territory of Jammu Kashmir to the west and the Tibet Autonomous Region to the east. Ladakh was a pausing point for traders from Tibet, China and the Middle East on the Silk Road. Kashmiri and Tibetan cultures have highly influenced Ladakhi cuisine.

The food of Ladakh does not only consist of noodles, dumplings and soups. Their authentic pulao embodies nuts, beans, fruits and spices.The traditional food of Ladakh consists of ingredients that help one maintain warmth. So here are some of the most flavoursome dishes of Ladakh.

Traditional Food of Ladakh: A Tale Like No Other

Ladakhi Pulao

Ladakhi Pulao looks subtle, compared to other alternatives from Lucknow or Kashmir, but it doesn’t befall in terms of essence. In fact, it bequeaths you surprised. The stark white rice splendidly soaks in the flavours of the aromatic seasonings and mutton stock makes it the first entry in our list of the traditional food of Ladakh.

10 Best Foods of Ladakh | Famous Cuisine of Ladakh – Swan Tours
Ladakhi Pulao
Source: https://www.swantour.com/

It is then layered with the barista (caramelised onions) as well as caramelised carrots and nuts to grant to the flavour and fibre. It may not be a typical sight on the streets or even in the establishments, but if you are fortunate enough to be invited for a local home-cooked meal, you are certain to find it.

Skyu

Another speciality from Ladakh, skyu is a soup-based traditional delicacy. The recipe contains vegetables and dough kneaded into levelled thumb-sized balls. These flattened balls are then placed in a pot with water and vegetables and cooked on low flame. 

7 Must-Try Food Dishes In Leh Ladakh Traditional Dishes of Leh Ladakh
Skyu
Source: https://hungrito.com/

Skyu is also served with meat. The dish is high on calories and satisfies the stomach. Skyu is mostly eaten in winter when the temperature drops beneath freezing point. It is also a pick among tourists who do trekking and linger in villages.

Milk is sometimes added as the main constituent in skyu. This dish is called oma (milk) skyu. One must try this meal when in Ladakh.

Tingmo

Tingmo is ordinarily sold on the roads of Ladakh as a stew, with either meat or vegetables in it. The stew is imbued to be delightfully spicy, yet somehow gentle. There are also portions of fermented bread served with Tingmo, or dropped inside it.

Tingmo: Steamed Bread - YoWangdu.com | Tibetan food, Recipes, Food

Tingmo can be consumed as a tea-time snack or even as a whole meal. The spice in the dish helps to sustain body warmth in the chilling land of Ladakh. A common mistake many people make is by confusing this traditional food of Ladakh with “momos” which are popular across Himachal Pradesh and the rest of India.

Butter Tea

This signature tea of Ladakh is brewed by adding butter and salt to a blend of boiling milk and is instilled with tea leaves. It is seldom also remembered as the gur-gur chai. This salty drink is characteristic of the Ladakh region as it has the usage of butter.

Tibetan Butter Tea in Ladakh | Times of India Travel
Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/

Butter ideally provides the body with some extra insulation against the severe, chilly climate. Ladakhis love their butter brew so much that it is an absolute indispensable must-serve during group functions and family meetings makes it an essential aspect of the traditional food of Ladakh.

Thukpa

Thukpa | Vegetable Noodle Soup - Cook With Renu
Source: https://cookwithrenu.com/

This noodle soup is actually of Tibetan influence. However, due to the undue impact, the Tibetan menu exerts on Ladakhi Food, Thukpa is quite popular in the neighbourhood. Thukpa is made by combining noodles with a clear soup with either cut meat or vegetables. Lightly seasoned with flavourings, Thukpa is available even at certain pan-Asian restaurants and is a fulfilling feast in itself. This traditional food of Ladakh is rather popular across the country!

Apricot Jam

Apricot Jam Recipe | Food Network Kitchen | Food Network
Apricot Jam
Source: https://www.foodnetwork.com/

Even though there are several flavours of jams readily available in all the shops, nothing could beat the flavour of apricot jam. Made from chulli (“apricot” in Ladakhi), which is the most widespread fruit raised in the region, the jam has become familiar among guests in Ladakh. One could have an apricot jam with bread or khambir.

Khambir

Often known as tagi (bread), khambir is a local whole wheat brown bread including a thick crust. The round-shaped fermented loaf tastes best when it is served freshly toasted. Khambir is served for breakfast with butter tea. People also have it with eggs or vegetables. Khambir could be consumed even after a week’s time and is one of the popular staple meals in Ladakh.

Chhutagi

Part word ‘chu’ translates as water while the other, ‘tagi’ translates as bread. It is a popular pasta-like dish that has a rich vegetable-based sauce. Every local restaurant in Leh has its treasured Chutagi recipe since it is one of Ladakh’s signature dishes.

Chutagi(bow-tie shaped dumpling), another fav ladakhi dish....prepared with  whole wheat flour.....quiet soupy loaded with potatoes, tu… (With images) |  Food blogger, Turnip, Food
Source: https://www.pinterest.com.au/

The dough is crafted into bow-tie-shaped bits and then, cooked in a thick soup. Normally vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, peas and locally available green vegetables are added. Meat can also be added to it. Taking the cold weather of Ladakh into consideration, this meal is perfect by all means. This dish is essential if you truly want to explore the traditional food of Ladakh .

Chhang

Chhang: The Beer of the Himalayas : Live History India
Source: https://www.livehistoryindia.com/

This local drink is also known as the beer of the Himalayas. Chhang is made from finger millets. They are boiled, dried and finally fermented for a few months. The Lepcha Community of Sikkim offers this drink to their gods and goddesses. The ale like-taste of this beverage suits the chilly climate. This drink makes a stellar addition in your journey of exploring the traditional food of Ladakh.

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