Thukpa: A Heart-Warming Tibetan Noodle Soup for the Winter
Image Credit: Thukpa

That's not all. Thukpa is available across major Indian cities in Tibetan cafes like Delhi’s Majnu Ka Tilla, etc. Did you know that "thukpa" is a Tibetan term for a bowl of stew combined with noodles? Oh yes, that’s the simplest explanation for anyone who would be trying thukpa for the first time.

Born out of necessity, it is said that the Dalai Lama brought thukpa to India. When the Tibetan spiritual leader moved from his homeland to India in order to seek refuge in the country in 1959, he came with his mother and other family members. Because it was a long journey, his mother packed tsampa, a type of flour mix made with barley and other ingredients that can be mixed in water and eaten along with butter tea.

Thukpa was a vital aid that helped keep them warm during this challenging voyage in the chilly weather. The Dalai Lama's mother first served the dish to refugees in India; she had no clue that it would go on to become a staple in many northeastern regions, including Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

While thukpa is traditionally made with noodles being dunked in a mutton stew, there are various other kinds that have come up. These include thenthuk, which involves hand-pulled hard noodles that are cooked with mutton stew. Thukpa is served with hot noodles in the winter and cold noodles in the summer. Another interesting variety is Pathug, where the noodles are hand-rolled and then pinched while being made.

Here’s a traditional Tibetan thukpa recipe you cannot miss this season.


    2 finely chopped tomatoes

    2 finely chopped onions

    3 diced potatoes

    3-4 finely grated garlic cloves

    ½ inch finely grated ginger 

    2 cinnamon sticks

    2 cardamom pods

    ½ finely chopped cabbage

    1 packet of egg noodles

    1 teaspoon black peppercorns 

    1 teaspoon cumin powder

    Salt to taste

    ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

    3 cups of vegetable broth



    Begin by boiling noodles in a pan full of water.

    Simultaneously, roast spices like cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon in a pan.

    Grind them with nutmeg.

    Once a coarse paste is ready, keep it aside.

    Add butter to a pan and sauté onions along with ginger and garlic.

    Then, add in your veggies like tomatoes, potatoes, and cabbage.

    Finally, add the ground spices and mix them well.

    Add some water and let it simmer.

    Pour in the vegetable stock and add the boiled noodles.

    Cover and cook for some time.

    Transfer it to a serving bowl. Garnish with black peppercorns and salt.

    Top it with an omelette or a soft-boiled egg and enjoy.