Tibetan Cuisine – Milking the Yak

rworange | Nov 19, 200501:12 PM     4

While trying out the Tibetan restaurants in the area, I found the food can be subtly spiced, some might say bland.

While googling for a spice listed on one menu (emma), there was the link (at the very bottom) that summed up why the food lacks variety. One picture IS worth a thousand words.

Someone did put together an excellent slide show and there are pictures of Tibetan food, recipes and even a shot of a woman milking a yak. Even though there are no titles for the slides, just click next to the number. Slides 11,12,13 are missing and the last two slides have Tibetan links.

The next link has recipes for the most common Tibetan foods:

Thenthuk (Tibetan Noodle Soup)
Momo (Tibetan Dumplings)- like steamed potstickers. The recipe explains and illustrates the momo shapes.
Po Cha (Tibetan Butter Tea) Sometimes spelled Bod-jha. In Tibet, yak butter is used.
Balep Korkun – A Central Tibetan flatbread that looks like naan.


Other Tibetan foods / recipes I’ve read about or sampled:

Tsampa - a doughy barley flour Tibetan staple. Barley flower doesn’t have enough gluten to for bread.
Thuk - wheat flour noodles
Ngoe thuk - pan fried noodles with meat
Thukpa – noodle stew with meat, barley & vegetables
Sha Khampo – a dried jerky usually made with beef, mutton or yak
Yak tongue and liver sausage – There’s a time when NOT authentic can be good.
Barley Beer (Chang) – Tried this. Not enough of a buzz for courage to eat yak liver

Here’s another good website about Tibetan food:


For further recipes and Tibetan food information this has links to lots of good sites, one of which cautions "Novices should be warned that Tibetan cheese is usually hard enough to break teeth, and should be moistened in the mouth before chewing.”


Tibetan restaurants will often be decorated with the colors red, blue, green, yellow and white. Often there will be prayer flags in those colors. They represent the earth, water, sky, fire and clouds. Tibetans hang the flags for good luck, peace, health and happiness.

Tibetan food is flavored, so to speak, with ginger, onions, salt, coriander and garlic. If the menu says “Tibetan spices” it might mean Copan masala or Indian garum masala. Here’ s a link to a recipe for Copan masala which the monks at the Copan monesary (who have a cookbook) use for dishes.


FYI, here’s the link to the Copan monastery which has a pretty slick website, IMO, complete with an online store. They don’t sell the spice mix though. No link to mapquest either for driving directions.


As to the mysterious emma spice on the menu, the only thing Google turned up was Emma Bunton of the Spice Girls. It must have been a menu typo.

Link: http://people.colgate.edu/kchewning/C...

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