You may have come across many travel guides to Sikkim and its
capital, Gangtok but what you normally don’t come across is a complete eating
guide. What good is visiting a place if you don’t eat like the locals do,
right? The Sikkimese cuisine is an amalgamation of Tibetan and Nepalese
cuisine. Due to this unique blend, the Sikkimese cuisine brings in it a
distinct flavour and an interesting combination of dishes that are a treat to
the eyes and as delicious as they seem.
Listed below are 5 must-have traditional foods in Gangtok that you
shouldn’t miss at any cost if you're a visitor to this part of the region. The
best thing about the foods? They are the locals' favourites.
1. Nepali thali
Nepali thali consists of Nepali dishes that locals consume frequently. The platter consists of different varieties of vegetables, fermented foods, lentils, pickles, chillies, and rice among other goodness. Some of the contents may vary depending upon the restaurant, but more often than not, you’ll find the below mentioned food items. A typical Nepali thali consists of the following:
• Rice: Rice is a staple food of the Sikkimese people and dal bhat is something that we love. A Sikkimese thali will always consist dal bhat. Dal is prepared with minimal use of local spices, which perfectly complements the other items of the thali and doesn’t feel too overbearing.
• Gundruk ko jhol: Gundruk is made by fermenting leafy green vegetables. Gundruk ko jhol is a type of soup with a slightly sour taste and feels light while eating.
• Ningro churpi curry: Churpi is the local name for Himalayan cheese and ningro is the local name for wild fern. When these two meet, the result is a mouth-watering curry unlike any other curry that you’ve ever eaten.
• Sinki ko achchar- Sinki is made by fermenting radish tap roots. It is either be served like gundruk, in which case the dish is known as sinki ko jhol, or it can also be prepared as achchar (pickle). Sinki ko achchar can be eaten with rice, rotis, or paranthas.
• Kinema: Kinema is made by fermenting soyabean. Kinema can either be served as a curry or as an achchar. Either way, it’s a food rich in protein and with a unique taste.
• Spicy fried potatoes, spinach, and seasonal vegetables: Apart from the above mentioned traditional foods, spicy fried potatoes and spinach are common vegetables in Gangtok. There are seasonal vegetables that are grown organically and the restaurants serve them too.
• The thali is also accompanied by various local pickles and other complementary items.
You probably already know about the love for momo in Sikkimese people. What you may not know is the variety of momos and chutneys available in Sikkim. So go ahead and try them out. If you love spice, you will love the chutneys. If you aren’t a fan of spicy food, make sure to inform the cook beforehand. Also, one of the best things that come with momos is the soup. Sipping the hot delicious soup while feeling the cool air of Gangtok brush your face is a heavenly feeling.
3. Sael roti and aloo dum
A traditional Nepali food, Sael roti is a sweet delicacy made with rice flour. Nepalis cook sael roti during the festival of Diwali, but it is available all year round in local restaurants. There are many combinations of sael roti, an interesting one among them being sael roti and aloo dum. The sweet sael roti perfectly blends with the spicy aloo dum and makes for a great treat.
4. Sha Phaley
Sha Phaley is a Tibetan dish consisting of bread stuffed with ground meat and cabbage. Meat options include beef and chicken. Veg phaley is normally stuffed with cabbage. The dough is made of all purpose flour. The stuffed circular- or semi-circular-shaped phaleys are then deep fried. Like momo, there are numerous types of sha phaley available throughout Gangtok, and you’ll enjoy the delectable taste of the dish.
Thukpa is a Tibetan noodle soup. Sikkim has made the dish its own with interesting spices with distinct flavours. Whether you are looking for spicy hot noodle soup for a chilly afternoon or a mild one to get away with the cold, Thukpa won’t leave you disappointed.