Paba, The Ladakhi Boiled Bread On The Verge Of Extinction
Image Credit: Paba with tangtur, De Khambir@Facebook

The enigmatic land of Ladakh isn't just about natural beauty. It has an array of culinary fares, which leave travellers, explorers and epicureans in awe of this place. Paba deserves special note among the astounding variety of native dishes there. It, a type of bread made with roasted barley (Ngamphey) flour or wheat that is kneaded and roasted with peas, is a nutritional powerhouse. The flour ingredients are usually a mix of barley, turtle beans, wheat flour, brown peas, dal, or lentil. The Ladakhi people once relied on paba as primary source of nutrition. It is often relished as a lunchtime meal. 

What adds to paba's exquisiteness is the way it is served. The locals like to relish it with gravy and soup. Paba and tangtur together are incredibly nourishing and satiating. Another Ladakhi specialty, Tangtur is made using buttermilk or yoghurt and some green veggies for flavour. These two are frequently packed as lunch during village fieldwork. Paba is nutritious since it contains barley or Ngamphey flour and is more appropriately described as bread. A few also serve it with Zathuk, a native dish made with nettles called Zatsot, a wild vegetable that grows abundantly on rocky slopes. The finest way to enjoy Zathuk, a nettle soup, is with Paba, especially during the winter.

Paba Recipe

Paba with thupka, Image Source: dol@Youtube


  • 200 gms paba flour (A mix of whole wheat flour, roasted barley flour, dried peas and buckwheat flour)
  • 500ml water for boiling
  • Salt to taste


  • Dry roast the flour and keep it aside
  • Pour the water into a big vessel, put it on flame, and add salt
  • Bring it to a boil
  • Simmer the flame and gradually add the paba flour while stirring simultaneously
  • Try using a wooden spoon, stir gently and place it inside the pot to prevent it from boiling over. Cook for another 10-15 minutes on low to medium flame
  • Stir and mix well to form a dry or firm yet soft dough. Turn off the flame

With the help of a wooden spatula, give it a triangle shape and relish it with Tangtur or Zatsot. 

Remember, while making the famous Ladakhi paba, the traditional recipe uses turtle bean, but one can substitute it with buckwheat flour if it is unavailable. Skya is a wooden ladle made of wood of any fruit try. A skya made of apricot wood adds flavour to paba too. If you don't have a wooden spoon, use a steel one.