food of sikkim

Food of Sikkim

Author: Tanuja Rai
Date: 2020-03-26

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The second smallest state of India, Sikkim is home to glistening glaciers, countless waterfalls, beautiful valleys, rivers, and varieties of flowers. Nestled in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas, Sikkim is one destination in India that attracts tourists from all around the world. Among its mountains is the majestic Khangchendzonga, the third highest mountain in the world. Also, Sikkim is the least populous state bestowed with a greater variety of vegetation and undisturbed valleys, five climatic zones, total sanitation, a peaceful environment, hospitable and humble people, and rich cultural heritage. It is famous not only for its beauty but also for its delicious cuisines. If you wish to understand Sikkim and the culture, you must try the culinary delights here. Any food that we eat has been passed down through generations.  Also, food has a way of bringing people together. 

Sikkim has people of different cultures and traditions. It is bordered by Bhutan, Tibet, and Nepal, and these neighboring countries have also made a major impact on the cuisines of Sikkim. Combining the local influences and the ones from the countries around, the Sikkim food items are varied and made of profusions of layers of flavors. There are soups, dumplings, stews, meats, and a whole lot of vegetables in this amazing intermix of the flavors of Sikkim resulting in a variety of delicious food.

It does not matter if you consider yourself a foodie or not, we all have to eat. And while you are in Sikkim, there is no way you can escape the delicious mouth-watering food that ranges from sweet and salty to spicy and sour. In fact, it is recommended to try everything rather than limiting your choices.

Sikkim is known as an organic state, and the locals usually prefer organically grown fruits, vegetables, eggs, and meat produced by local farmers. Therefore, you can mostly see locally sourced ingredients and the many different flavors that wouldn’t otherwise be used in food dishes across India and that makes the food options a delight to savor. You must try out the many local cafes, restaurants, and street stalls to make the best of the many culinary delights offered in this beautiful state.

What is the most popular food of Sikkim?

Sikkim has quite a few popular food items, some of which are listed below.

Momos

Whenever you hear about Sikkim, you definitely hear about the delicious momos here. You can say that Sikkim and momos are complementary to each other. It is a very popular food in Sikkim. In Sikkim, you will be served the best momos that you ever had in your entire life. Believed to be a Tibetan delicacy and modulated by the Nepalese cuisine, momos are the lifeline of Sikkim. Momos are basically steamed dumplings made of flour dough with fillings. The fillings can be meat of different kinds or mixed vegetables like cabbages, winter squash, carrots, onions, ginger, and sometimes cheese and cottage cheese. It is cooked in a 3-tier vessel with perforations in 2 tiers, and soup is made in the last one. The perforations allow the flavor of the soup to rise to the dumplings. Momos are served with hot chilli sauce/chutney. Momos are something that no one can dare to miss in Sikkim.

Delicious momos of Sikkim

The delicious momos of Sikkim

Thukpa

Thukpa is a famous and healthy local food. It is basically a noodle soup made of mixed vegetables and is of Tibetian origin. You can either opt for vegetable thukpa or egg and meat thukpa, where eggs and meat such as chicken are added. It is loved a lot in Sikkim and one serving is filling, though it’s hard to stop at one. You will get a huge bowl filled with noodles and soup of your choice, either vegetables, potato soup noodles famously known as alu thukpa, or chicken soup thukpa topped with eggs, and they are all topped with chopped onion, coriander leaves, green chillies, finely chopped cucumbers, and carrots. If you want, you may also add hot spicy chutney on top, mix, and enjoy it. This food is available at almost any restaurant and café, as it is as common as momos in Sikkim.

Hot thukpa soup of Sikkim

Hot thukpa soup of Sikkim

Sel Roti

One of the most loved and famous dishes in Sikkim is sel roti. This is among the many recipes Sikkim has adopted from its neighboring countries. Sel roti is a famous dish in Nepal, but it is also not uncommon in Sikkim. It is made from rice flour, which is painstakingly made at home. Rice is washed, soaked in water, and ground to form a good flour. It is mixed with water to form a paste, and sugar, cardamom, and other spices are added according to the choice of the eater. The mixture is dropped into hot oil in a ring shape. You must be a well-practiced person to fry it because though it may look easy to make, it is in fact very difficult. It is usually made on celebratory occasions in a huge amount and served with potato curry locally known as alu dum. It is also available in many restaurants in Sikkim, and you can always get to taste it any time of the year.

Sel roti - a popular food of Sikkim

Sel roti - a popular food of Sikkim

Phaley

Another favorite food in Sikkim is phaley; this wonderful dish of Tibetan origin is literally heaven on your taste buds. It is somehow similar to momos but bigger and not steamed but fried. It is made out of flour dough with fillings such as ground beef, boneless chicken, or vegetables. It is then shaped in semi-circles and deep-fried. It is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. With different people having different demands, a lot of variations have been made to the traditional dish, and people have readily accepted the addition of cheese and tofu to the stuffing. Even if you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can enjoy this delicacy with vegetables or tofu filling. You can find it as commonly as momos and thukpas in any restaurant in Sikkim.

Yummy phaley of Sikkim

Yummy phaley of Sikkim

Phagshapa

Phagshapa is a food item where pork fat is the key ingredient. It is a strip of pork fat, which is stewed with dry chillies and radishes. At first, the fat pork strips are cooked separately and then stewed with the radishes. It is quite spicy due to the usage of red chillies. There is no substitute for pork, so there is no alternative for vegetarians.

Gundruk

Gundruk is a very common food in Sikkim. It is made from mustard leaves, cabbages, or radish leaves. These leaves are washed, dried slightly, and stored in a container, most likely earthen pots, and kept aside for fermentation for some weeks. It is then taken out and dried. It tastes a bit sour but delicious. Gundruk can be made as a soup after mixing with onions, tomatoes, and ginger with spices and some chillies to be served with rice and other dishes. It can also be mixed with chopped onions and other chopped vegetables with chillies to be served as a side dish. It is good for maintaining the metabolism of the body.