Remember Kung Fu Panda and protagonist Po's favourite meal, noodle soup? A famed constant in the gourmet list of most Asian countries that have their own version of it, the 'noodle soup' is anything but ordinary. Sikkim is no different and has its own form of this global comfort food known locally as "thukpa" (meaning a generic soup or broth with meats, vegetables, and noodles in it). The origin of thukpa lies with the Tibetan migrants who brought this wondrous recipe along with them, but it got a new life here in Sikkim, Darjeeling, Arunachal Pradesh, Nepal, and Bhutan with new variants of the same.
A hearty bowl of comforting thukpa begins with a broth made essentially by boiling beef/ pork/ chicken bones in lots of water to which a few spices are added. After a few hours, the broth is ready. Now an assortment of vegetables such as beans, mushrooms, carrots, etc are added along with a choice of cut meats and of course noodles (both pre-cooked). The final embellishment on the thukpa is a set of condiments such as raw onions, chillies, herbs, and a fried egg (optional). It is served piping hot along with dalle-tamatar ko achaar (a fiery chutney made of fireball chillies and ripe tomatoes). Though the Nepalese and Sikkimese versions are a bit on the spicier side, the spice levels can be requested to be adjusted as per taste at most places. There are then variants of thukpa that you see based on the type of noodles that gets added.
Variants of Thukpa
The most famous variants available in Sikkim are gyathuk (which contains Chinese-style machine-made noodles/ egg noodles), thenthuk (which contains hand-pulled noodles), and bathuk (which contains hand-rolled noodles), each of which cut across all communities. A household common variant is the cowrie thukpa, which as the name suggests contains hand-rolled pasta shaped like cowries (shells) made from wheat flour. The cowrie can be easily compared to the Italian gnocchi pasta and cooked similarly, till it floats. From Laksa (in Malaysia) to Pho (in Vietnam), it is thukpa all the way for people here.
Guess which variant of thukpa you are looking at- Gyathuk, Thenthuk, or Bathuk?
A popular vegetarian variant here in Sikkim and Nepal is the aloo thukpa, which is comprised of a soup-like curry made of boiled potatoes and dried peas coloured with red chillies, served along with condiments such as chopped raw onions, coriander leaves, green chillies, dalle-tamatar ko achaar, and mimi (a Nepalese brand of fried instant noodles) which provides a much-needed crunch. This is the form that is loved the most by school kids and adults alike.
Mouth-watering and spicy aloo thukpa
A winter evening is the right time to dig into a big bowl of thukpa and if you are exploring the food of Sikkim, then this is hard to not be on that list. Though thukpa is nowadays found even in other metro cities across the country, the traditional taste is quite a refreshing experience. As a staple among the food of Sikkim, the thukpa can be said to be ubiquitous and found on almost all restaurant menus. And is the perfect food to share and bond over with friends, families, et al. For the best bowl in Gangtok, head to MG Marg for a plethora of outlets to choose from. For a more authentic taste though, nothing beats a home-made one. Get a chance to stay at homestays when you travel to Sikkim and enjoy a wholesome, immersive experience. Ask our local experts for recommendations when you plan to visit here.
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