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SIKKIM - The Cuisines

Top travel sites in Sikkim: Gangtok (East Sikkim), Tsomgo Lake (East Sikkim), Nathu La Pass (East Sikkim), Baba Mandir (East Sikkim), Khangchendzonga (West Sikkim)

Sikkim Govt Tourist Information Centres:- Sikkim Tourist Information Centre, Gangtok: MG Road, Gangtok Ph: 03592-221634/227720; Sikkim Tourist Information Centre, New Delhi: 14 Panchsheel Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi PIN 110021, Ph:011-26115346, 26115171; Sikkim Tourist Information Centre, Kolkata: 4/1, Middletown Street, Kolkata-16 Ph: 22817905; Sikkim Tourist Information Centre, Siliguri: SNT Colony, Pradhan Nagar, Siliguri, West Bengal Ph: 2512646; Sikkim Tourist Information Centre, Bagdogra: Bagdogra airport Ph: 2698030; 2698036

Tibetan momos a favourite on Sikkim's menu

There is a variety of cuisines for the various ethnic groups consisting of the Nepalese, Bhutias and Lepchas. However, rice is the staple food. Meat and dairy products are also consumed. There are also various traditional fermented foods and beverages. Depending on the altitudinal variation, finger millet, wheat, buckwheat, barley, vegetable, potato, soybeans, etc. are grown.

Momo: Momo, steamed dumpling prepared from wheat flour and meat/vegetable is very common Tibetan food. Momo has already entered commercial production and is well placed in menus of all local hotels/restaurant.

Tomato achar Thukpa/ Gya-Thuk: Thukpa/Gya-thuk is a typical Tibetan style noodles in soup. Thukpa/Gya-thuk is a very popular local cuisine available in all restaurants.

Kinema curry: Kinema is a traditional fermented soyabean food having characteristic stringy property with unique flavour, commonly consumed as a main side-dish curry served as meat substitute along with cooked rice in meals. Kinema serves as an inexpensive high source plant protein food in the local diet. The word kinema might have originated from the Limbu (one of the major castes of the Nepalis) dialect Kinambaa, Ki meaning fermented, nambaa means flavour.

Gundruk & Sinki: Gundruk and Sinki are traditional fermented vegetable products prepared during winter when fresh perishable vegetable is plenty. Gundruk is a fermented product of leafy vegetable such as rayo sag (Brasicca rapa spp. campestris variety cuneifolia), leaves of mustard, radish and cauliflower. Sinki is prepared from radish tap root only. The quality attributes to Gundruk and Sinki basically depends upon the typical flavour and sour-acidic taste which is developed during natural fermentation by lactic acid bacteria, mainly spp. of Lactobacillus and Pediococcus. Gundruk and Sinki are sun dried after fermentation and stored for consumption. Due to high content of organic acid and low pH, these products can be preserved for a year or more. This is a good example of biopreservation of perishable vegetable. Gundruk and Sinki are good appetizers due to high content of lactic and acetic acid developed during fermentation.

Chhurpi soup: Chhurpi is a fermented dairy product prepared from cow milk. Chhurpi is a traditional cottage cheese which gives a texture of a white soft mass with mild sour taste.

Chhurpi-Ningro curry with wild fern: Mesu pickle(fermented bamboo shoot): Mesu is a traditional fermented bamboo shoot product with sour-acidic taste eaten as pickle. In the Limbu dialect, me means young bamboo shoot and su means sour, the word Mesu is directly derived from the Limbu dialect.

Tama curry: Tama is a non-fermented bamboo shoot product. Some varieties of bamboo shoots commonly grown in the Sikkim Himalayas are Dendrocalamus hamiltonii, Dendrocalamus sikkimensis and Bambusa tulda locally known as choya bans, bhalu bans and karati bans, respectively are edible when young. These bamboo shoots are collected, defoliated and boiled in water with turmeric powder for 10-15 min to remove bitter taste of bamboo. Tama is ready for consumption. Tama is commonly sold in the local markets during the months of June to September when young bamboo shoots sprout.

Masauyra curry: Masauyra is a fermented black gram, ball-like hollow product consume as spicy condiment. Masauyra is mostly common among Newar of the Nepalis. It is similar to the Punjabi Wari.

Khalo Dal: Khalo dal is very common dal prepared from black gram (Phaseolus mungo).

Sidra ko Achar: Sidra ko achar is a flavoured pickle prepared from dry, small fish Sidra.

Saelroti: Widely prepared during Nepali festivals, Saelroti is normally eaten with potato curry or non-vegetarian dish. Normally not available in restaurants but Saelroti is prepared from well-mixed fermented rice batter which is deep fried, ring-shaped, spongy, pretzel-like product commonly consume as confectionery bread in festival and special occasions. The batter is fermented by spp. of yeasts and lactic acid bacteria.

Shimi ko Achar: Shimi ko achar is pickle made up from string bean (Dolichus lablab) locally called "shimi". Pa

Pakku (Mutton curry): Pakku is a typical mutton curry of this region which is served with cooked rice or Selroti.

Kodo ko Roti: Kodo ko roti is typical pancake prepared from finger millet locally called Kodo which is served with different varieties if pickles.

Phapar ko Roti: Phapar ko roti is a traditional buckwheat chapati.

Silam ko Achar: Silam ko achar is a pickle prepared from Silam seeds, and is usually served with Phulaurah.

Phulaurah (Buckwheat fritter): Phulaurah is buckwheat-based fritter eaten as snacks.

Chambray (fry-cooked rice): Chambray is a typical Nepali type Pulao prepared from local varieties of rice.

Til ko Alu (Potato curry with sesame seeds): Til ko alu is a typical Nepali style potato curry mixed with sesame seeds (Sesame indicum) locally called Til.

Sishnu soup (Nettle leaves soup)

'Mohi (Butter-milk): Mohi is a traditional non-alcoholic buttermilk beverage, which is usually served in vegetarian meals. Mohi is slightly sour-acidic in taste.

Dahi (Curds): Dahi is fermented milk product, which is thick and non-alcoholic beverage. Dahi is served as a side-savory drink.

Chaang/Jaanr: Fermented alcoholic beverages have strong ritual importance among the various ethnic groups of people of the Sikkim Himalayas. Traditionally prepared alcoholic beverages are commonly served in main meals. Jaanr/Chaang is a mild alcoholic and sweet-sour fermented cereal-based beverage. It is sipped from a bamboo receptacle using bamboo pipe. Chang can sometimes be strong and very intoxicating.

Raksi: Raksi is a clear distilled wine with characteristic aroma prepared from fermented starchy materials mostly Bhaate Jaanr.

(Excerpted from 'Sikkim Tourism')

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