INDIGENOUS CUISINES of Sikkim
Sikkim is one destination in the North East that's not just famous for its scenic beauty but the amazing local food influenced by neighbouring countries like Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. Sikkimese cuisine is full of flavours and is based on rice and maize mainly. It is one of the reasons that most of the dishes made is Sikkimese cuisine have rice and maize in some form or the other that are surely worth a try.
Believed to be of Tibetan origin and modified by the Nepalese cuisine the momos are the lifeline of Sikkim. Momos are steamed buns with a filling. It typically consists of two parts - the cover and the filling. The cover is made of dough of white flour and water. Sometimes yeast or baking soda is also added to the dough to enhance the texture of the momos.
Originally these momos were made with ground meat fillings, but over the years a lot of modifications have been made that have made dumplings even better. From Tofu (Paneer) to cheese, everything can be included in the filling.
Thukpa or Gya Thuk
Thukpa is a kind of noodle soup of Tibetan origin that has found its way to being one of the most loved food in Sikkim. One can find both vegetarian and chicken versions of the dish. One can find almost every kind of locally grown vegetable in this soup, but the most common ones are carrots, bell peppers, spinach, cauliflower and celery. Thukpa is available in almost every cafe and restaurant, but it is better to try it from a local vendor as they provide you with the best and most authentic taste that you can find.
Phagshapa is a strip of pork fat that is stewed with dry chillies and radish. A spicy and tangy endeavour of this Sikkimese dish is rich in proteins and is made with no oil. The Golden Dragon hotel in Gangtok serves the most authentic and delicious Phagshapa in the whole of Sikkim.
Bread stuffed with ground beef and cabbage made into semi-circles and then deep-fried is everything that you need to know about this famous food of Sikkim. Crispy on the outside and soft and juicy on the inside, this is what you get when you take the first bite into the golden fried dumpling. With different people having different dietary demands, many variations have been done to the traditional dish. Among the more popular variations of the dish include cheese and tofu versions. The Roll House in Gangtok is the best place to try one of these.
Gundruk is a food of Nepalese origin and is one of the staple foods of Sikkim. Gundruk is a leafy dish that is completely vegan and is made out of some leaves of mustard, cabbage or radish. Authentic Gundruk is only found in villages that people make in their households. It is rich in roughage and helps in maintaining the metabolism of the body. Traditionally this Sikkimese dish is made in an earthen pot, but people have started using other ways of making the same dish. This is one food that has remained the same even after ages and seems to show little alteration.
Sinki is another traditional dish of Sikkim that has not shown any major change either in the ingredients or in the making process. It is very similar to Gundruk but is made out of radish taproots. These radish roots are chopped and put into bamboo and pressed over with straw. This bamboo is covered with vegetation and mud for about a month and is allowed to ferment. This month-long prepared Sinki can now stay fresh for a year and is ready to be used in stews and soups. It can also be used as a pickle and eaten with parathas and other dishes.
Kinema is a dish made of soya beans that are boiled and fermented to attain a sticky texture. The dish gives out a pungent smell. Kinema can be had with bhat (rice) as a side dish. It is a substitute for meat for vegetarians as it is high in antioxidants and low in fat. Kinema is popular not only in Sikkim but also in Nepal and Darjeeling.