Beyond Thukpa: Discover The Delicious Dishes Of Ladakh

While thukpa, a hearty noodle soup, is a well-known dish from Ladakh, there is so much more to the region's culinary tradition. From steamed dumplings to sweet breads to aromatic teas, Ladakh's cuisine is rich and diverse, with a wide range of flavors and ingredients to discover.

Let’s take a look at some of the lesser-known dishes and flavors of Ladakh's cuisine and discover the food that makes this ruggedly beautiful, mountainous region's cuisine a fusion of cultures.

Introduction to Ladakhi Cuisine

Ladakhi cuisine is a unique blend of Tibetan, Central Asian, and Indian flavors, known for its simple yet flavorful dishes that use ingredients such as potatoes, daikon radish, buckwheat, and barley. The cuisine also includes a variety of spices, such as cardamom, cumin, and fenugreek. The dishes are often served with a variety of condiments, such as chili paste, garlic paste, and pickles, creating a unique flavor that is sure to please the palate.

The condiments add an extra dimension of flavor to the dishes and make them even more delicious. The cuisine is also known for its unique use of herbs and spices, which helps create a unique flavor profile.

Ladakhi food is not just about the taste—it's also about the experience. Many Ladakhi dishes are served in a traditional style, with food being placed on a large metal tray known as a thali and shared among diners. This communal way of eating is a central part of Ladakhi culture and adds to the overall experience of enjoying Ladakhi food.

History of Ladakhi Cuisine

The history of Ladakhi cuisine dates back centuries. The cuisine has its origins in the Tibetan and Central Asian regions, and it has been influenced by the different cultures and flavors of the region. The cuisine has also been influenced by Indian culture, which has resulted in a unique blend of flavours. 

The cuisine has evolved over the centuries, and it continues to evolve today. The cuisine is known for its simplicity and its use of fresh ingredients. This has resulted in a cuisine that is both healthy and delicious.

The Best Ladakhi Dishes to Try

If you’re looking to experience the delicious flavors of Ladakhi cuisine, there are a few dishes that you should definitely try.


Momos, also known as Mokmok, are steamed dumplings popular in Ladakh and other parts of the Himalayan region. They are made by wrapping a filling of minced meat or vegetables in a thin dough, which is then steamed until cooked. Momos can be served with a variety of dipping sauces, and they are a popular snack food in Ladakh.

Ladakhi Pulao  

As a staple of Ladakhi cuisine, the pulao can trace its roots back to the Yarkandi pilau, a traditional Kashmiri dish prepared with large pieces of goat meat. Rice, aromatic spices, and mutton stock come together to create this flavorful dish. As the rice sits, it absorbs the mutton stock's spices and natural flavors. Birista (caramelized onions), carrots, and nuts are then layered in to add flavor and texture.


Khambir, which can be stored for weeks once made, is eaten for breakfast with butter tea and later in the day with vegetables or eggs. A cast-iron plate placed over a stove fueled by wood or cow dung is the traditional method of preparation.

 Apricot Jam  

Apricots, originally from China and Central Asia, were brought to the region in the twentieth century and have since become a staple of the Ladakhi diet. The jam has gained popularity among tourists in Ladakh because it is made from chulli (Ladakhi for apricot). With khambir or bread, apricot jam makes for a delicious spread.


Skyu (pronounced "skew") is a soup-based delicacy that’s consumed almost daily, especially in the winter, and is popular in Ladakh and other parts of the Himalayan region. It is made from a dough of wheat flour, water, and butter, where pasta-like shapes are cut from a soft wheat dough and then cooked with root vegetables like carrots and turnips. It's a side dish that goes well with momos, meat, and veggies.

Gur-gur cha   

Gur-gur cha is a sweet tea made with butter and salt that Tibetan Buddhists have traditionally consumed to cleanse the body and mind. It is made by boiling black tea with butter and salt, and it is often served as a hot beverage. Gur-gur cha is a unique and flavorful drink that is worth trying if you have the opportunity to visit Ladakh.

Thukpa Bhatu 

This is a flavorful and satisfying dish that is full of nutrients, made with hand-pulled noodles, and is a popular choice for vegetarians in Ladakh. Thukpa bhatu is made by cooking noodles in a broth with a variety of vegetables, such as carrots, peas, onions, and bell peppers. It is seasoned with spices and herbs, and it is often garnished with fresh herbs before serving.


Chutag is a type of flatbread that is popular in Ladakh and other parts of the Himalayan region. It is made from a dough of wheat flour, water, and salt, and it is traditionally cooked on a griddle. Chutag has a soft, chewy texture and a slightly salty flavor, and it is often served with tea or used as a base for other dishes. It is a convenient and tasty food that is easy to transport and store.


Ladakhi people traditionally drink Chhang, a barley beer that's 5-7% ABV. You'll find people drinking chhang at celebrations like weddings and holidays. An interesting fact about this alcoholic beverage: it's customary to bring a pot of chhang to the family of the girl you're proposing to as a sign of your seriousness. If the girl's family accepts the chhang pot, it's a sign that they're ready to tie the knot.

Also, when serving chhang to guests, it is customary to make an offering to Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha (the three jewels of Buddhism) by dipping a finger in the chhang and flicking a few drops into the air three times.


So, if you're looking to experience the rich and delicious flavors of Ladakhi food, be sure to add it to your culinary travel bucket list. You won't be disappointed by the variety of tasty dishes and unique culinary experiences that Ladakh has to offer.