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Tibetan food - New Zealand style

While at home in Nelson, New Zealand recently I realised that I’d spent so much time telling my family and friends about all of the different Tibetan foods I was eating, but they probably had no idea what they were actually like to eat. 

Thus the decision was made that I would cook up a Tibetan feast for brunch one weekend morning, which proved to be an interesting challenge for me. I worked primarily from memory (thankfully most Tibetan dishes are really quite simple in terms of ingredients and flavourings) and also consulted Elizabeth Kelly’s Tibetan Cookbook for help, but my main problem was finding the right type of ingredients to get the right flavours. 

My menu consisted of: cha ngarmo (sweet tea), tse mo-mo (vegetable dumplings), thukpa (noodle soup), and sho-ko ka-tsa (spiced potatoes). 

My aim was to let my friends experience the types of food that I eat here in Lhasa on a regular basis (minus the yak and butter tea). I managed to find most of my ingredients at the Asian Supermarket in town (including the same brand of pickles that I buy here), but as with any meal that’s made somewhere other than it’s country of origin some of the flavours just weren’t quite the same. 

The sweet tea, dumplings, and potatoes were all close enough to what I eat over here, but the dish that just wasn’t the same was the noodle soup: I improvised with the ingredients and it was ok, but ultimately it’s just not the same without freshly made noodles (I’m not quite that hard core) and yak broth. 

My friends - having had no other experience with Tibetan food - liked it all anyway. The noodle soup was slurped down quickly, the mo-mos and potatoes were savoured, and the sweet tea disappeared so quickly I wish I’d made triple the amount. 

Quite a change of scene … 

I’ve spent the last few weeks at home in Nelson, New Zealand, soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the warm weather (meanwhile Lhasa’s had snow and below-freezing nights!)

It was a busy few weeks but it’s always nice to be home for a while. 

Looking across at a steep Tibetan valley near the Nepali border

Looking across at a steep Tibetan valley near the Nepali border

Mount Everest towers above market stalls that are set up near base camp in Tibet

Mount Everest towers above market stalls that are set up near base camp in Tibet

For Tibetan nomads motorbikes are the new horses, seen here in Tingri, Western Tibet

For Tibetan nomads motorbikes are the new horses, seen here in Tingri, Western Tibet

A Tibetan wild deer stops to watch me, near lake Manasarovar, Western Tibet

A Tibetan wild deer stops to watch me, near lake Manasarovar, Western Tibet

Early morning near Manasarovar lake, near Mount Kailash, Western Tibet

Early morning near Manasarovar lake, near Mount Kailash, Western Tibet

Colourful Tibetan pilgrims stroll down the final part of the kora around Mount Kailash, Western Tibet

Colourful Tibetan pilgrims stroll down the final part of the kora around Mount Kailash, Western Tibet

Sunrise on Mount Kailash, Western Tibet

Sunrise on Mount Kailash, Western Tibet

Walking the Mount Kailash kora, Western Tibet

A Tibetan boy walking around the Mt Kailash kora, Western Tibet

A Tibetan boy walking around the Mt Kailash kora, Western Tibet

Shadows of a balcony at a Tibetan guest house

Shadows of a balcony at a Tibetan guest house

Morning at the Gyantse Kumbum, Pelkor Chode, central Tibet. 

A dog rests in the early morning sun outside a monastery in Tibet

A dog rests in the early morning sun outside a monastery in Tibet

A Tibetan family waits for a ride near Yamdrok lake, central Tibet

A Tibetan family waits for a ride near Yamdrok lake, central Tibet