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16:43 Dec 15 2008

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English>>Tibet Online>>Culture
Tibetan Food & Drink
10:32, December 12, 2008  

The staple Tibetan food is barley flour (rtsam-pa), which is consumed daily. Other major foods include wheat flour, yak meat, mutton, and pork. Dairy products such as butter, milk, and cheese are also popular. The people in the higher altitudes generally consume more meat than those of the lower regions, where a variety of vegetables is available. Rice is generally restricted in consumption to the well-to-do families, southern border farmers, and monks.

Two beverages--tea and barley beer (chang)--are particularly noteworthy. Brick tea from China and local Tibetan tea leaves are boiled in soda water. The tea is then strained and poured into a churn, and salt and butter are added before the mixture is churned. The resulting tea is light reddish white and has a thick buttery surface. Chang, which is mildly intoxicating, is thick and white and has a sweet and pungent taste.

Due to the high altitude of Tibet, the water boils at 90 degree Celsius, and cooking with water is impossible. The diet and foods are peculiar in Tibet. The Tibetan diet consists mostly of meat, milks and other high-protein foods. The main staple is `tsamba'. Tea is a necessary. Travelers usually bring dried meat, tsamba, and tea for foods.

Main Types of FoodIn the winter, beef and mutton are cut into long stripes to be air-dried in the circular ground caves or bins walled with stones or dungs. Dried beef and mutton keep better and longer, as the bacteria in them are killed during the drying process in deep winter. Dried meat also packs well. In the next year, the dried meat will be Bar-B-Qed or be eaten raw.

Big chucks of fresh meat are boiled in a pot. Salt, ginger, spices are added. The meat is served when it changes colour. People take the meat by hands and cut them with the carried knives. The breasts and spareribs are for the guests. The tails of white sheep are for the guests of honor. If a young man is treated with a tail of white sheep in his girl friend's house, it implies that he can hope.

There are four different sausages in Tibet: blood, meat, flour and liver.

Milk is drunk fresh or made yogurt, or is separated by churning into butter and curds.

The Tibetan butter is home-made and can be further processed and refined into butter known elsewhere. Butter is used for food with `tsamba', tea etc., or for the fuel of lamp.

After butter is made from milk, the remain becomes sour and can be made curd. Milk curd placed in the mouth and sucked on helps to quench thirst and can be mixed with barley flour to make curd-pastry, a holiday delight.

The milk is boiled first, after removed from stove, some old yogurt is added. Yogurt will form in a few hours. In the central and western parts, the yogurt is thin and smooth. In the east, it is too thick to stir. Yogurt is mentioned in the famous poem `the story of Gesar', and has been a Tibetan food for more than 1,000 years.

Staple FoodThe main staple food is `tsamba'. This is made of roasted barley (with husk) ground with a hand mill into very fine flour, which is mixed with a little tea and then rolled into small lumps and eaten with fingers. Butter, curds and sugar add flavour.

`Tubo', a savoury evening gruel made of lumps of wheat flour, tsamba, dried meat and a tuber called `yuangen'.

TeaThere are three ways to make tea: simple tea, milk tea and butter tea. The most common tea leaves are produced in the Han Land, as Fu Tea from Hunan, Tou Tea from Yunnnan and Ta Tea from Szechuan. Tibetan tea-drinking forms a special `tea culture'.

Recipes

Kopan Masala1/3 c Coriander seeds1/4 c Cumin seeds10 Black cardamom pods,peeled15 Green cardamom pods,peeled25 Cloves2 Cinnamon sticks,broken up1 ts Black peppercorns1/4 ts Freshly ground nutmegCombine coriander, cumin, black and green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns and nutmeg and grind finely, but not to powder, with mortar and pestle, rolling pin, coffee grinder or food processor. Store in airtight jar. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Potato Soup1/4 c Butter1 tb Minced ginger root1 tb Minced garlic1 c Diced red onion1/2 ts Turmeric1/2 ts Chili powder1/2 ts Kopan Masala3 c Mashed potato4 c Water1 c Diced tofu1 c Spinach leaves,chopped1 1/2 ts White vinegar1 tb Soy sauce2 ts Salt1/2 ts Black pepper2 tb Chopped green onion2 tb Chopped cilantro

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic and onion and stir-fry over medium to medium-high heat for 1/2 to 1 minute. Add turmeric,chili powder and masala. Stir-fry 1/2 minute longer. Add potato and mix. Cook and stir 3 minutes. Add water 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly with wire whisk to prevent lumps from forming.Stir until mixture is smooth. Add tofu and spinach. Mix well and bring to boil. Add vinegar, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes. If soup is too thick, add water. Add green onions and cilantro and mix well. makes about 8 cups.

Tibetan Roast1 ts Oil4 oz Buckwheat4 oz Onion, diced8 oz Mushrooms, chopped1/4 pt Red wine1/4 pt Stock4 oz Walnuts8 oz Spinach1 ts Rosemary1 ts SageSalt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375F.Heat oil in a skillet & fry the buckwheat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add onions & mushrooms & cook for a few more minutes. Pour in the wine & stock & bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer for 20 minutes. Add more stock if necessary.Grind the walnuts finely. Wash & cook spinach without water for 6 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid & chop thoroughly.When buckwheat is cooked, remove pan from heat & let cool slightly. Stir in walnuts & spinach. Mix in the herbs & mix well. Season to taste.Grease a 1 LB loaf tin & press in the mixture. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes till the top is dark brown & feels firm to the touch. Let it stand for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a plate. Serve with roasted vegetables & greens.

Source:chinatibetnews.com

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