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Tibetan Cuisine

tibet cuisine
Tibet Cuisine

Not only the Tibet culture and history different from other regions of China, but the cuisine of Tibet is also quite unique, including their dining custom and tradition. Tibet people’s main food mainly is comprised of the meat, more meat like yak beef and mutton, and less vegetables due to the less production in this high plateau. More interestingly, the monks in monastery traditionally are away from the meat, but in Tibet, the monks also eat meat, for they have no other choices. When you question your guides, they will give you the detailed information.

As a part of the varieties of Chinese cuisine, Tibetan cuisine characterizes strong tastes, with beef, mutton, pork and chicken as main ingredients. Not so many vegetables due to harsh natural environment, Tibetans often use potatoes and radishes, with rice, noodles or bread as staple food. Tibetan dishes are generally filled with abundant butter taste, sometimes they are quite sweet and crispy, or with sour and spicy seasonings; often grill or fry.

Traditional Tibetan banquet consists of butter (ghee fat), ginseng fruit rice, and dumplings in broth, mutton eaten by hands, mixed vegetables and yoghurt. These are reflecting the Tibetan eating habits. Something like noodles in northern China, tsampa (roasted barley) is made of qingke barley, dried and deep fried, and then mill to be barley stripes. It becomes dry but healthy and nutritious. Tsampa is usually eaten with ghee tea, or meat and vegetables. There are some other specialty dishes worth recommended.

 Ghee Tea tibet cuisine
Tibet Cuisine: Ghee Tea

Fried Sheep’s Lung is popular in Lhasa. Lungs are added with ghee and salt and then deep fried until they are in gold-yellow color. So crispy with excellent fragrance., Steamed Ox’s Tongue is also famous in Lhasa.

Stuffing Sausages are made of small fresh intestine of a sheep, stuffed with sheep blood, mutton, and Tibetan Qingke barley or soy beans. Sometime it may include sheep liver and sheep fat. The snack is usually made and to be eaten during Tibetan New Year.

Ginseng Fruit Pork is a pork dish made from pig that has been fed by ginseng fruits, which are found in steppe area of southern Gansu Province. The pork is full of sweet fragrance of the ginseng fruits when serving.

Tibetan beverages are essential for local people. Ghee tea, sweet tea and qingke wine are popular. Ghee fat is seen all over Tibet where you will notice that the nomad people take them to sell on the streets. A food material with high nutritious value from cow’s of goat’s milk is used in daily meal preparing and for tea brewing. Ghee tea and sweet tea are brewed by ghee fat and milk, or milk powder and tea leaves with salt and sugar respectively. Ghee tea is a drink of hospitality all over Tibet. When a local person would like to go abroad, his close relatives will greet him with a white piece of hada (white silk) and a bowl of warm ghee tea before he set out, bon voyage!

It is impolite to finish a bowl of ghee without a break in front your Tibetan hosts. It is best to taste the tea slowly in the meantime adding warm tea or water. Always add to a cup’s full after your guest has drunk some part of it. If you are the guest and you do not want to drink anymore or just would like to have a longer break, you may not to touch the full cup of tea. Before you are leaving, you should finish your part completely.

Qingke barley wine is a kind of Tibetan liquor brewed with wheat fermented. Tibetans of every age can drink it. During festive seasons, Tibetans will prepare large amount of wine to celebrate. They will dance and sing cheerfully while they are drinking qingke wine.

Milk products are plenty in the Roof of the World because there are many cows and goats. Yoghurt is from processed ghee fat, but there is also a kind of yoghurt is made from unprocessed fat. Tibetan cheeses are also common on the plateau, made from residues of processed milk and fat. Locals like to bring cheeses with them when they are going out.

Dried beef or mutton is eaten raw. This sounds terrible at least it is not hygienic according to Western or Chinese standard. However, beef and mutton are directly cut from animals’ body during very cold weather in late November. Hang them in cold and dry place, much better than keeping freeze in a refrigerator. In following February or March, Tibetans will eat them, either grilled or just served raw! They love the taste so much.

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Writer: David from Seeraa International
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