Khambir With Butter Tea: The Staple Ladakhi Breakfast That Is Warm And Delicious
Image Credit: Pixabay, Khambir is also known as tagi bread while butter tea is called gur gur chai.

The best way to view Ladakh is through the lens of your car’s window. Why we say so? You know how people believe that the journey is more beautiful than the destination. Going by the same logic, you can do full justice to Ladakh’s beauty, only when you’re immersing yourself in the scenic landscape all through your travel. Just like Kashmir is a cold region and has a variety of breads and beverages to savour, Ladakh is no different. Given the chilly cold weather in such areas of the Indian sub-continent, it becomes imperative to consume food that keeps you warm and energetic at the same time. 

Carbs are believed to provide you with energy, especially when your daily routine involves a lot of physical labour. Ladakh, being closer to the countries like Tibet and China, seems to have some influence on their eating habits and cuisine too. You’d find several food joints, popular for momos and thupka. Steaming hot momos with a cold breeze hitting your face, ah, what a feeling! Similarly, the mornings in Ladakhi households usually start with some bread and tea. Mind you, this is not like any other ordinary breakfast combination. 

A staple breakfast in the region, khambir is served with butter tea in the morning. For those untouched by the phenomenon, khambir is a thick and round whole wheat bread which is usually paired with a cup of tea. Also known as tagi, the leavened bread is made from fermented dough and baked to perfection. The cooking process begins by baking it over a hot stone first and then bringing it in contact with fire directly. The brown-coloured bread isn’t like your thin, flat roti but has a thicker crust, closer to a bun. 

Butter tea is the other significant element of this Ladakhi meal. A special tea hailing from Tibet, butter tea is a combination of butter, salt and yak. Oh yes, you read that right. Yak meat is often infused into the tea to give it a distinct flavour. The dark pink-coloured beverage is not only popular in Ladakh, but commonly drunk in regions like Kashmir too. Referred to as gur-gur chai locally, this tea is a saviour during the cold winter months as it generates heat in the body and keeps you warm. The tea leaves are churned properly by mixing it with the milk. This gives a distinctive aroma and freshness like no other tea. Here’s a recipe of traditional butter tea if you’d like to try. 

The khambir and butter tea pairing is quite common but sometimes, you’d also find people eating it with scrambled eggs and vegetables too. Best eaten when it is fresh out of fire, khambir has a shelf-life of upto one week if stored properly. The local whole wheat is used to prepare this bread and it is commonly available in most small diners and shops in Ladakh. 

If you plan to try the authentic breakfast in Ladakh, you should definitely head to De Khambir, located on the Zangsti road in Leh.