Tabo Menu May 18

After the Buddha Jayanthi washout we rushed back to Tabo, because we’ve grown pretty fond of the space and the people here. Tashe, who runs the Zion Cafe and Penma Guest House, where we’re staying, is an excellent chef and his is one of the very few places we’ve found that serves simple local food and not just the usual mish-mash of ‘international cuisine’. Actually what he serves is a bit more special. It’s sort of the equivalent of a place in Madras that serves ragi kanji and theratti paal and adai and not just idli dosai. So basically it’s stuff that you would usually get in only homes and not in restaurants.

Anyway, so since the menu is full of stuff that’s alien to most people, Tashe spends most of his time trying to explain to tourists what each of the dishes are and how they’re made. And he’s not always able to communicate it properly in English, so Iswar thought we should help out by recreating the menu for the cafe with lots of explanations and notes about the cuisine here. So that’s pretty much what we did all day.

We also got to watch Tashe and his assistant hand-make noodles from the aata. Here’s a photograph of their beautiful noodle machine.

And finally here is the local cuisine section of their menu, after all our additions to it. It will also give you an idea of what we’ve been eating while we’ve been here J For those of you who will wonder, ‘but where the hell is the meat?’ there is plenty of meat eating in the Spiti Valley, but it happens mostly in the winter. In the summer, the food tends to be vegetarian and light and easy to cook.

ZION CAFE

Local Spitian and Tibetan Cuisine

Tsampa : Barley seeds are washed, sun dried, then roasted on hot sand until they pop (like pop corn) and finally ground in the local water mill. This is a local product and has been grown in tabo and the Spiti Valley for hundreds of years. It has a slightly nutty flavour and is very versatile and nourishing. As you can see by the range of dishes, tsampa is a very versatile ingredient. Please feel free to ask Chhering if you have any questions.

Breakfast

Tsampa porridge                                         40

(Tsampa is boiled with milk and water with a hint of sugar. The porridge is traditionally eaten salty, with butter tea, curd and hot water. If you would like to try Tsampa porridge in the traditional style, please ask Chhering or Tashe)

Tsampa Pancake                                        40

(Tsampa is kneaded into a dough with milk, eggs and sugar, and toasted on a pan. The tsampa pancake has a lovely rich texture, and tastes superb with any of the extras. While pancakes are not strictly traditional, they show the versatility of this lovely flour. The traditional recipe uses wheat flour and water, but the secret is the addition of chung (barley beer) and dara (buttermilk). During the night the chung acts as the yeast, as does the dara, which gives it a unique flavour and texture.)

Tibetan bread                                        20

(Wheat flour and a touch of baking powder is kneaded into a dough and left to breathe and then toasted on a pan)

Pancake                                            40

Extras:

Honey, Butter, Jam, Lemon Sugar, Chocolate                         10

Mango, Banana, Apple                                    20

Lunch and Dinner

Potato Phaktse                                         50

(Wheat based pasta with potatoes in a tomato based sauce)

Phaktse with yak cheese                                    55

(Balls of wheat flour boiled, and stir fried in butter with yak cheese. Can be made sweet or salty to your taste.)

Pak with curd                                         35

(Boiled Tsampa served with curd)

Quoma (kiyoma)                                        35

(Roasted Tsampa served plain with Dara/Lassi (buttermilk))

Chirrul                                            35

(Roasted Tsampa served plain with Butter Tea)

Phemar                                            30

(A cake made with Tsampa, water, clarified butter and sugar or salt)

Samtuk                                             30

(A thick soup made with tsampa and yak cheese – this is easy on the stomach, comfort food, excellent for when you have a cold or a fever)

Thantuk

(A soup made of flat phaktse (wheat pasta) with vegetables)

Vegetable                                        40

Vegetable & Mushroom                                50

Vegetable & egg                                    50

Vegetable & cheese                                50

Vegetable, egg and cheese                            55

Thukpa

(Fresh noodles in soup)

Vegetable                                        40

Vegetable & Mushroom                                50

Vegetable & egg                                    50

Vegetable & cheese                                50

Vegetable, egg and cheese                            55

Chowmein

Vegetable                                        50

Vegetable & cheese                                55

Vegetable & egg                                    55

Momos

(Traditionally, Momos were only served to the more important guests when they visited the household. They were said to be a delicacy which were made only for celebrations and festivals. Birthdays are not celebrated annually, but only once, the year that one is born. This celebration is called Phingri, the presentation of the child to the community. This celebration usually occurs during the winter, anytime between October and December. The date is still determined by the Geshe or the Astrologer of the village.)

Momo Steamed (10 per plate)

Veg                                            40

Potato                                            40

Spinach                                        45

Potato & Yak cheese                                50

Spinach & Yak cheese                                55

Mushroom                                        50

Momo Fried                                         extra 10

Momo Kothay (fried and steamed)                         extra 15

Momo in soup                                     extra 10

Begli
(deep fried & stuffed big round momo – 2 per plate)

Veg                                            40

Potato                                            40

Spinach                                        45

Potato & Yak cheese                                50

Spinach & Yak cheese                                55

Mushroom                                        50

Timok (steamed wheat flour croissants)                     per piece 10

Potato with phing (glass noodles) and yak cheese                    60

Spiti Thali                                          130

(a taste of everything – rice, timok, potato with phing & yak cheese, crunchy salad, yoghurt and butter tea)

  • The noodles, phaktse, breads, yak cheese and tsampa are all handmade here at Zion
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One thought on “Tabo Menu May 18

  1. yum yum! well done iswar! i have always maintained that a good cook is a skilled performer so i’m thrilled with this one 🙂

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