Local Tibetan Food and Tibetan Cuisine
The most featured Tibetan food is buttered tea, tsampa and meat. The local food and cuisine in Tibet reflect its climate and customs. Due to the extremely high altitudes, and harsh climate, few crops grow at the high altitudes that characterize Tibet, although a few areas in Tibet are low enough to grow such crops as rice, oranges, bananas, and lemon. The most important crop is barley. Vegetables are scarce in the high altitude.
Tibetan cuisine is not only sustenance, but also helps Tibetan people survive the harsh climates. Their food keeps them warm, gives them energy, helps them with the high altitude, and gives them nutrients essential to the harsh climate.
Flour milled from roasted barley, called tsampa, is the staple food of Tibet. Tsampa is the staple food of Tibetan people. Tsampa is a dough made with roasted barley flour and yak butter. There are several ways to prepare Tsampa. The Tsampa served with buttered tea is salty, while the Tsampa made into porridge is often sweet. Tibetan people eat Tsampa at every meal, and when traveling, it is brought along as a ready-made meal. To create Tsampa, Tibetans put some ghee (yak butter) in a bowl, pour some boiled water or tea into the bowl, add some roasted barley flour into the water or tea, mix and then knead the mixture into dough balls and eat them.
Buttered tea is the favorite drink of Tibetan people and usually drank while eating Tsampa. It is made of boiled brick tea and ghee. Ghee, which looks like butter, is a kind of dairy product of fat abstracted from cow milk or sheep milk. Tibetan people like the ghee made of yak milk. When they make buttered tea, they mix boiled brick tea and ghee in a special can, add some salt, pour the mixed liquid into a pottery or metal teapot and finally heat up it (but not boil it). Different people have different tastes for the buttered tea. Some people like salty flavor, others prefer to light flavor. People who do manual labors, especially men, like the strong-tasted, cream-like buttered tea. Old people, children and women like light-flavored tea. People usually heat up the buttered tea because cold buttered tea is not easy to be digested and does harm to one's stomach.
For lack of vegetables, meat features heavily in Tibetan cuisine. People living at higher altitudes generally consume more meat than those of the lower regions. The most commonly eaten meat in Tibet is beef, goat and mutton, often dried, or cooked in a spicy stew with potatoes. Beef and mutton contain a lot of protein which is helpful in fighting the cold. Many Tibetans often eat raw meat. Dried beef and mutton strips are also popular foods in Tibet. The dried meat is crisp and tastes good, and can be eaten raw, since the cold temperature in the winter has killed bacteria during the process of drying making it very safe to eat. The dried meats can be stored and are useful when traveling long distances. Tibetans are also very fond of sausages. Blood sausage, meat sausage, flour sausage and liver sausage are very popular among Tibetans.
Other kinds of Tibetan food:
Balep is Tibetan bread eaten for breakfast and lunch. Thukpa is mainly consumed for dinner. It consists of noodles of various shapes, vegetables and meat in broth. Tibetan cuisine is traditionally served with bamboo chopsticks, in contrast to other Himalayan cuisines, which are eaten by hand. Small soup bowls are also used, and rich Tibetans fed from bowls of gold and silver.