Gur Gur Cha to Chuli Chhu 7 Drinks from Ladakhi Cuisine

Beverages in Ladakh are a remarkable example of how the region's extreme altitude has impacted both tradition and necessity. These beverages are a window into the rich cultural heritage of the region as well as a means of survival in the harsh climate. Ladakhi beverages, with their distinct tastes and ingredients, convey a tale of determination and represent both the rugged nature of the locals and the breathtaking natural scenery of the Himalayas. 

Discovering the rich cultural tapestry of Ladakh is not limited to its cuisine. Here are 7 unique drinks that reflect the climate, geography, and customs of the area. From butter tea to chang, each sip tells a story of Ladakh's unique identity. 

Gur Gur Cha or Shrusma Cha - Butter tea 

The combination of robust black tea, yak butter, and a dash of salt makes for a satisfying and healthy beverage. Due to the cold and wet weather, the high fat content of the tea is essential. Prepared in a clay samovar heated with cow dung – and served for a comforting experience. With its rich flavors and cultural significance, Gur Gur Cha not only offers comfort but also serves as a symbol of Ladakh's way of life. 

Khunak -Salted black tea 

The tea chhathang is made by boiling the tea leaves in an open kettle to create a concentrate, which is then poured out and preserved in a jug or jar. It's made by adding water and boiling it with salt, but not churning the mixture, so it keeps for a few days. Milk tea and this are more popular than gur gur cha among Kargil locals. 

Chuli Chhu - Apricot juice 

Chuli Chhu is a delicious nectar made from the common Ladakhi apricot. Sun-dried without the pit, the less refined version known as Chulli is put to use in the first weeks of spring. This apricot elixir, soaked to release its essence, is a welcome treat on days when food and drink are in short supply. The apricot kernel, native to the fertile sham region, is the star ingredient in tsigu chhu, where it is mashed and mixed with water. Ladakh's inventive use of nature's gifts to create one-of-a-kind, refreshing drinks, such as Chuli Chhu and tsigu chhu, is on full display in these two drinks. 

Chhang - Fermented barley drink 

Chhang, a revered Ladakhi treasure that captures the essence of tradition and flavor. Crafted from fermented barley, this wholesome drink offers a tangy and mildly alcoholic profile. The fermentation process lends Chhang its distinct character, making it a refreshingly unique beverage. Often enjoyed during festivities and social gatherings, Chhang embodies Ladakh's communal spirit and cultural heritage, creating a connection between its people and the land. 

Rguntshang - Fermented grape drink 

Made from fermented grapes, this enchanting drink carries a touch of tartness and natural sweetness. As it ferments, it evolves into a spirited yet soothing elixir, offering a glimpse into Ladakh's resourceful culinary traditions. With every sip of Rguntshang, you're not just tasting a beverage; you're savoring the harmony between nature's bounty and Ladakh's timeless craftsmanship. 

Arak -Distilled chhang 

Arak, which is made by distilling the juice of Chhang, is a good example of how Ladakh has come up with new drinks. This powerful elixir is made by distilling fermented wheat. It is an amazing change from the simple Chhang. Its strong flavours and higher alcohol level give a unique look at how Ladakh likes to improve on traditional drinks. The powerful appeal of Arak captures the essence of Ladakh's cultural heritage and makes for a fun journey for those who want to see its wild side. 

Cha Shrul - Butter tea with tsampa 

Cha Shrul, a Ladakhi culinary gem, combines the heartiness of butter tea with the nourishing taste of tsampa. It's a popular drink and meal made from strong black tea, yak butter, salt, and roasted barley flour (tsampa). This rich mix gives you food, warmth, and a unique flavour profile. Cha Shrul's combination of tastes and textures shows how creative Ladakhis can be by making a drink that's not only soothing but also good for you. This makes it an important part of the region's culinary history.