Sikkim is a land of stunning natural beauty and a treasure trove of culinary delights.
Whether you visit a local cafe or a fancy restaurant, you will find delicious dishes to savor. From steaming momos and Thukpa to fermented cheese and bamboo shoots, Sikkim has something for your every preference.
The state’s cuisine reflects its rich diversity of flavors and cultures, offering simple yet flavourful tastes.
In this article, you will get to know about the following food items that you can try in Sikkim,
Let’s explore these items that you can add up to your list to devour.
When in Sikkim, momos are a go-to snack and are delicious. This Tibetan delicacy is loved by all in the state are found in every corner. The cuisine was later modified by the Nepalese, or so it is believed and has now become an important food item of Sikkim.
Momos are steamed or fried dumplings that are made out of flour dough with various fillings, such as meat, vegetables, paneer, or cheese. They can be shaped in different ways and seasoned with different spices and ingredients to enhance their taste.
Momos are a delight to eat, especially in the cold weather. The soft and chewy dough wraps around the juicy and flavorful filling, creating a burst of sensations in your mouth. You can dip them in different sauces and chutneys or enjoy them with a spicy soup.
The warmth of the flavourful food item feels the heart with joy. The different textures and flavors of the item are so satisfying and comforting that you will never get bored of them, even if you have them every day.
(Check out how to make momos at home)
Thukpa is a noodle soup that originated in eastern Tibet and spread to different regions like Ladakh, Sikkim, and Nepal. Therefore, this dish is found all throughout Sikkim and is loved by everyone.
The noodles are made out of buckwheat and then it is added to a flavorful savory soup. Thukpa can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian, as per your preference. There will be different types of veggies in the dish along with the noodles for the veg option, and the non-veg option will contain meats and poached or boiled eggs.
The chewy noodles, soft meats, and veggies along with the warm soup become perfect for consuming in the cool weather. The dish had come to India in the year 1959 during the exile of the Dalai Lama from Tibet and has been a favorite among the locals and tourists ever since.
In your bowl of Thukpa, make sure to add some chili oil, a bit of soy sauce, and even a bit of vinegar if you will a hint of sourness in it. Savor the soup while admiring the mountains in front of you and feeling the cool breeze on your face.
Dhindo is a traditional Nepalese dish that has become a staple food in Sikkim.
The name dhindo means a thick paste-like porridge that is made by stirring flour into boiling water over a low flame. The flour can be from different grains such as millet, corn meal, or buckwheat, depending on the availability and preference. In between cooking, ghee, salt or sugar, and garlic are added to enhance the taste. It is cooked in a heavy iron pan or Phalame Tapke and shaped into small balls for serving.
Dhindo is usually accompanied by various side dishes such as meat soup, lentil soup, Gundruk, or milk. You can dip a piece of dhindo into any of these side dishes to enjoy its flavor and texture. Chutney is also a popular addition to make it more delicious. The chutney can be made from tomatoes, coriander, mint, or other herbs and spices.
The locals love this staple and therefore it is easily available in most restaurants in Sikkim. It is one of the popular dishes amongst travelers and tourists, especially among those who want to taste the traditional cuisine of the region. Dhindo is not only delicious but also healthy and filling. It is a dish that reflects the culture and history of the people who make it.
4. Sha Phaley
If you are craving some savory and deep-fried delicacies, Sha Phaley is a great option to choose. Although it has its origin in Tibet, the dish has much significance in Sikkim.
Sha Phaley is a pastry made with refined flour or maida and stuffed with a mixture of minced meat, cabbage, onion, ginger, garlic, and various spices. They are then fried in oil until they turn golden and crispy.
The dish is best enjoyed with some spicy chutney or sauce that adds a tangy kick to the savory filling. You will have to bite on it when it is piping hot to cherish the soft chewy filling and the crispy outer covering.
Sha Phaley is a perfect snack for the cool weather of Sikkim and you can find it easily at any street vendor or restaurant in the state. Sit and appreciate every bite amidst the mountainous environment. You can also try different variations of Sha Phaley with tofu, cheese, or paneer as the filling for a vegetarian option.
It is a fulfilling dish, for both the stomach and the heart.
Sinki is yet another traditional dish that is famed in the regions of Sikkim, Bhutan, Darjeeling, and Nepal.
The process of making Sinki is fascinating and intricate. First, the radish is wilted for a few days to soften it. Then, the leafy part is removed and the radish is either shredded using a Dhiki (a wooden tool used for pounding grains) or chopped into pieces. The shredding is done when the radish is intended for soup, while the chopping is done when the radish is intended for pickle.
Next, the radish is placed in a hole that has been dug in the ground and warmed up by a small fire. The hole is lined with straw and bamboo to create a natural container. The radish is then pressed down and covered with rocks, mud, boards, etc. to make it an air-tight space. The radish ferments in this space for 20 to 30 days, developing a complex and distinctive flavor. Finally, the radish is sun-dried and ready to be consumed.
Sinki can be cooked into a soup with various spices and vegetables and served with steamed rice. It can also be made into a pickle by mixing the radish with spices and bottling it. It is a delicious and healthy food that helps with digestion and stomach pains. Sinki is a dish that showcases the unique process and taste of fermented radish.
Kinema is a fermented soybean dish widely consumed in Sikkim and other East Himalayan regions. The name of the dish comes from the word Kinambaa, a Limbu word that means fermented flavors.
This is a traditional dish with a unique texture and flavor. It is prepared by boiling and fermenting soybeans for several days in a warm and humid environment until they become sticky. The fermented beans can be made into a soup, a curry, or a side dish. It can also be mixed with vegetables, spices, or meat to enhance its flavor and nutrition.
Kinema is a healthy dish that can provide a lot of antioxidants and protein. It can be a good alternative to meat for vegetarians who want to try something different. Kinema can also help lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. It is also a rich source of dietary fiber, iron, calcium, and vitamin B12.
If you are visiting Sikkim, it is worth trying this dish at least once. You may find it in most restaurants or local homes in the region. You may also find Kinema in some markets or shops where it is sold as a dry or wet product.
This Sikkimese pork dish is a brilliant amalgamation of spicy, tangy, and savory flavors. It is famous all around the state and is nommed with great pleasure.
Phagshapa, a traditional dish, made out of radish, chillis, and spices, has its roots in Tibet and has been adapted and refined in India over the years.
To prepare this dish, the fat of the pork is cooked and kept aside. Then in the stew, the pork and red chili are added along with spices and radish. This gives it a rich and smooth texture. No oil is used in this dish, making it a wholesome and healthy option.
The dish is a symphony of flavors that will tantalize your taste buds and make you crave for more. You can enjoy it as a snack on its own or with some chapati or rice for a hearty meal.
These are some delectable and palatable food items that you might give a try during your trip to Sikkim. The list of food items will be never-ending as soon as you start to gobble on some of it.
You will be amazed by the variety and richness of the cuisine, as well as the cultural significance of some of the dishes. Enjoy the scenery and the food, and discover the flavors and traditions of Sikkim.
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