A Traveler's Food Diary - Sikkim

The North Eastern state of Sikkim is well known for its natural beauty – mountains, high altitude lakes and green valleys. However the cuisine of this erstwhile small kingdom which is now a state of India is not familiar to the people from other states, except for momos and thukpas (known as Gya Thuk here).

During our recent trip to Gangtok, we had the opportunity to sample quite a few of the local dishes and learn more about this cuisine, which has a bit of similarity to food from neighboring Nepal.

Foodaholix Gangtok 9ine Pork chili fry
Pork Chili Fry

9ine, a restaurant in New Market, Gangtok concentrates mainly on local (called native) cuisine, and serves a traditional set meal. As per Mr Tshering the owner of the restaurant, the recipes of traditional Sikkimese dishes originated from the monasteries, and got adapted by the local population. The cuisine has a major focus on keeping the body warm and utilizes local ingredients such as fermented vegetables, dairy products and meat.

Foodaholix Gangtok 9ine Gundruk Soup
Gundruk Soup
The meal starts with Gundruk soup – made of fermented leafy vegetables. The soup is sour-ish and very tasty – the ingredients provide additional warmth to your body in the cold climate.

Foodaholix Gangtok 9ine Gudruk Soup Maachoo
Maachoo
Maachoo, a cottage cheese based preparation has the traditional ghee flavor and is to be enjoyed with steamed rice and a pinch of salt.

Foodaholix 9ine Gangtok Kinema
Kinema
Kinema is the another specialty, again to be savored with steamed rice. Fermented soyabean based, this is Sikkim’s most popular vegetarian preparation. The soyabean is cooked with tomatoes, onions and capsicum and garnished with coriander.

Foodaholix Gangtok 9ine Pork Curry
Sikkimese Pork Curry
The set meal ends with a sumptuous Sikkimese Pork Curry - which is a cumin powder and tomato based gravy.  The curry is very light on spice with rice and local raw chilies. The pork and beef in all the meals we had in Gangtok were fresh and less fibrous than those we get in the plains.

Foodaholix Gangtok 9ine Chhurpi pickle
Chhurpi Pickle
Chhurpi pickle which is essentially sliced radish in traditional Sikkimese fermented cheese is served as an accompaniment for all meals.

Foodaholix Gangtok 9ine Bhutanese Dachi
Bhutanese Dachi
9ine also serves the Bhutanese delicacy Dachi, onions, chilies and tomatoes in a broth of melted cheese.

Foodaholix Gangtok 9ine Beef Momos
Beef Momos

 Many versions of momo are there – steamed, fried or chili – and made of chicken, pork or beef. We tried some steamed momos – the filling inside tasted great, and so did the fresh and fiery chili paste served with it.

Foodaholix Gangtok 9ine Shaphalays
Shayphaleys
Shayphaleys are large fried meat pies - stuffed with spicy beef mince and vegetables. Another  must have here is their Pork Chili Fry – pork fried in soya sauce with chilis, capsicum, onions and tomatoes.

Foodaholix Gangtok Taste of Tibet
Taste of Tibet on MG Road
Another good local restaurant here is Taste of Tibet in MG Market, though it lacks the variety of ethnic offering of 9ine. The restaurant is always bustling with a crowd – old, young and even people from monasteries around. We tried to order momos but were told that momos get sold out by 4 PM.

Foodaholix Gangtok Taste of Tibet Beef Thentuk
Beef Thenthuk soup
They serve a mean thentuk (a thukpa variant) – a soup consisting of beef, flat handmade square shaped noodles and vegetables. Again a great soup for the cold winter here.

Foodaholix Gangtok Taste of Tibet Pork Fry
Pork Fry
The Pork Fry here is also well made. Deep fried pork slices are served with sautéed onions and tomatoes.

Foodaholix Gangtok Taste of Tibet Beef Curry
Beef Curry
The beef curry combo with rice, again a cumin based preparation should also be tried out for its simple taste and soft meat.

Address:
9ine Restaurant: New Market Rd, Vishal Gaon, Gangtok,
Telephone: 03592 205 061

Taste of Tibet: MG Marg, Gangtok,

Also see :  A Traveler's Food Diary
                 Srinagar, Kashmir
                 Agonda Beach,  Goa
                 Vietnam

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