In Sikkim, Himalayas traditional foods form an essential part of dietary culture. Rice is the chief food of the Sikkimese. Depending on availability, meat and dairy products are consumed as well. Apart from these foods, a range of traditional fermented foods and beverages, make the basic diet for centuries. The pattern of food production also reveals the gastronomy of Sikkim. With high altitudinal variation, crops like finger millet, wheat, buckwheat, barley, vegetable, potato, soyabeans etc. are grown.
The cuisine is also incorporated with Dals (lentils), fresh vegetables, bamboo shoots, wild flowers, mushrooms and nettle leaves. Talking about non-vegetarian food, beef, pork and fish are relishing items. The main thing about the cuisine of Sikkim is that it materialized under the changing needs, geographical compulsions and cultural contact of the adjoining countries. Sikkim cuisine demonstrates the good sense of the residents, who took only those styles and methods from other cultures, which helped their mode of life, maintaining their own distinctive cuisine.
Momo (steamed dumpling), Tomato Achar (Pickle), Thukpa /Gya-Thuk (Noodle soup), Kinema curry (Fermented soybean), Gundruk and Sinki Soup (Fermented vegetable soup), Gundruk ko Achar (Pickle), Chhurpi Soup (Traditional cottage cheese), Chhurpi ka Achar (Pickle), Chhurpi-Ningro Curry (Chhurpi with wild fern), Sel Roti (Fermented rice product), Shimi ka Achar (String bean pickle), Pakku (Mutton curry), Bamboo Shoots, Sisnu(stinging needle), Phing ( Glass noodles), Shya Phaley( meat stuffing), Sikkimese Tea( salty), Gyari( Steak), Gya Kho (chimney soup) and Mesu Pickle (Fermented bamboo shoot) are some of the local dishes that are enjoyed by all the communities in Sikkim.
Some of the local cuisines which are prevalent in Sikkim can be mentioned as follows.
Momo is a very popular Tibetan delicacy in Sikkim. Stuffing minced meat, vegetables or cheese in flour dough and then moulding them in the form of dumplings prepare it. After that these are steamed for about half an hour in a three-tiered utensil that has bone or tomato soup in the lowest compartment. Steam from the boiling soup rises through the perforations in the containers above and cooks the dumplings. Momos are taken along with soup and home made chilly sauce. Eight momos which constitute one double are quite filling. It is available in most of the local restaurants as well. Now a day momos are very popular among the youngsters. And this is because of the fact that these are oil free diet and thus prevents to grow fat.
It is noodle soup with vegetables. Thukpa is readily available in most of the local restaurants.
This Nepali cuisine is prepared by grinding a mixture of rice and water into a paste. The paste is then poured into hot oil and deep fried. It is normally eaten with potato curry. This dish is normally not available in restaurants. But this is widely prepared during parties.
Niguru with Churpi
Niguru is a local fiddlehead fern and its tendrils when light fried with churpi or cheese forms an irresistible dish. This is a household dish and normally prepared in houses. Generally these are not available in restaurants.
Gundruk is leaves of the mustard oil plant that have been allowed to decay for some days and then dried in the sun. These dried leaves are then cooked along with onions and tomatoes and thus forms a tasty dish.
Chang or Thomba
Chang is a local beer which is made by fermenting millet using yeast. It is sipped from a bamboo receptacle using a bamboo pipe. The receptacle which has millet in it is topped with warm water a couple of times until the millet loses its potency. Chang can sometimes be very strong and very intoxicating indeed. This is a favourite drink of many people of Sikkim.
Phagshapa is strips of pork fat stewed with radishes and dried chillies.
Kinema is a fermented soybean food which is rich in protein and with a unique flavour is eaten with rice.
Bamboo shoot is another commonly used ingredient in local food. This can vary from fresh bamboo shoot called Tama, which is often used with pork to make an irresistible curry to Mesu, a traditional fermented bamboo shoot product used to make pickles.
Various traditional fermented foods and beverages constitute the basic diet. Owing to this, people can preserve vegetables, when they befall out of season. To cope up with the chilly weather, the residents of Sikkim rely on alcoholic drinks that are popular amongst both men and women. An assortment of soups, pickles and beverages make the Sikkim cuisine more flavorsome and delicious. Noodle-based dishes like chowmein, thanthuk, fakthu, gyathuk and wonton are common delicacies in Sikkim. Slowly and steadily, the cuisine of Sikkim is getting more and more popularity due to its rich taste and enticing flavour.
|More ArticlesCuisine of Sikkim (3)|
Cuisine of Sikkim