The gorgeous and unique Tibet is the place closest to paradise. In addition to its beautiful scenery, food can also not live up to it. When you come to Tibet, if you want to deeply feel the unique way of life in Tibet, you still need to taste the special Tibetan cuisine-Tibetan food. This area full of unknowns and irreplaceable has made this unique cuisine.
Tibetan cuisine is the general term for Tibetan food, which has a long history. The taste of Tibetan food is light and peaceful. Many dishes, except salt, garlic, and shallots, do not put any spicy seasonings, so the original taste of the food is guaranteed. It’s also in line with the current trend of returning to the basics of food culture. While maintaining the traditional dietary culture of the plateau, it is also influenced by Sichuan, Indian, and Nepalese food cultures. The commonly used cooking methods are roasting, frying, boiling, etc. Representatives include not only dishes made from yak meat and Tibetan pork, but also dishes made with curry and Sichuan pepper. Of course, the daily diet of Tibetans such as tsampa, butter tea, and highland barley wine cannot lack.
The Features of Tibetan Cuisines
Due to the unique ecological and cultural environment of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, the derived Tibetan cuisine style is quite different from that of other ethnic groups, forming the following features:
1. At an average altitude of above 4000 meters, Tibet is located in the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, with thin air, abundant sunshine, and little rainfall. Due to these unique natural environments, Tibet has bred unique agricultural and sideline products, thus forming a nomadic food character. In the vast plateau region, butter tea, sweet tea, milk residue, barley wine, beef, mutton, and other foods of the plateau characteristic have become the traditional food of the Tibetan people.
2. Tibet is at the junction of China and many other countries therefore Tibetan food is greatly influenced by China and neighboring countries such as India and Nepal. Besides, Tibet is a holy land of Tibetan Buddhism so it’s also been deeply influenced by Tibetan Buddhist culture. As an ethnic minority group in China, Tibetan people have their own dietary taboos. For example, many Tibetan people don’t eat fish, because they think the fish is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism.
3. Traditional Tibetan cooking methods are mainly boiled and fried, supplemented with certain mixed, steamed, and raw foods, and there are fewer stir-fried dishes. This is mainly due to the high altitude of Tibet, which makes it difficult to stir-fry dishes. The raw materials of traditional Tibetan cuisine are mainly Tibetan barley, beef, and mutton, its offal, ghee, milk residue, etc. You can hardly find seasonal vegetables in Tibetan recipes. But in recent years, with the promotion of vegetable cultivation and consumption on the plateau, vegetables are getting to appear on the dining tables in Tibet, and stir-fried food has become more and more popular.
4. There is a big difference in diet between the agricultural and pastoral areas of Tibet, as well as the dietary customs. In pastoral areas, meat is the staple food, and only a small amount of Zanba is the supplement; but in agricultural areas, conditions are just the opposite. Herdsmen in northern Tibet don’t like to put curry powder in their dishes, but almost all other ethnic groups living near the border will put curry. Another example is oatmeal. Although most people like it, eating ways are different. Monba people like to add milk residue inside.
5. The highest level of Tibetan cuisine is mainly concentrated in Lhasa and Shigatse, which are the center of Tibetan cuisine culture. As the old nobles, manor owners, and government offices, Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama used to live there. Although Tibetan cuisine in many other places is also very distinctive, it‘s far from comparable to these two places in terms of the complete variety, craftsmanship, and superb cooking techniques. In particular, the Tibetan cuisine in Lhasa has become representative of Tibetan cuisine as Lhasa food brings together the essence of Tibetan cuisine but is more vibrant and diverse. You can taste a lot of authentic food at the Lhasa restaurants near Jokhang Temple and around Barkhor Street. Of course, you can also have Western food, Sichuan food, Nepalese food, or Indian food here.