What is Tibetan Cuisine?

Tibetan cuisine boils down to a few key crops and meats

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Tibetan cuisine sources its ingredients from its surrounding environment. It is possible, however, to find many Szechuan dishes in larger Tibetan towns and cities, as it is a popular cuisine throughout the region.

Given Tibet’s location among many mountains and plateaus, Tibetan cuisine is known to include noodles, goat, yak, mutton, and cheeses from yak or goat milk in its dishes. Additionally, Tibetan cuisine also includes soups and dumplings, which are referred to as momos.

Meat dishes in Tibetan cuisine are most commonly dried or prepared in a spicy stew with potatoes, which are an easy-to-grow crop.

Tibet’s staple food, though, is tsampa, or flour milled from roasted barley; barley is the most important crop harvested in Tibet, and is particularly suited to the area given Tibet’s high altitude. Other important aspects of Tibetan cuisine are balep, which is a Tibetan bread that is eaten for breakfast, and sha phaley, which is a dish of meat and cabbage mixed in with bread.

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Yak products such as butter, cheese, and yogurt are highly prized for both their taste and health benefits. Traditionally, Tibetan cuisine is eaten with bamboo chopsticks, whereas other cuisines of the Himalaya regions are eaten by hand.