Think Tibetan food and the first thing that would pop up in your mind is the ever popular momo. Fried or steamed no matter how they are consumed momos or wontons have become a regular fixture at every street and cranny of Delhi but Tibetan food doesn’t start and end with docile dumplings. There is much more to Tibetan cuisine and even if you aren’t the experimenting kind there is no way you can’t try the Thukpa.
Being in Delhi the chances of sampling Tibetan food is definitely much higher than any other part of the country; a few years ago you’d go mad trying to look for momos in Mumbai! Essentially a spicy noodle soup with vegetables and meat, Thukpa was traditionally served at dinner but over the years has become a popular meal by itself. A very popular dish especially in the colder Himalayan regions Thukpa’s spiced chicken or vegetable stock replete with boiled vegetables or meats provides warmth that few foods can boast of.
Tibetan food has been a staple in Delhi for half a century now. In the earlier days it was limited to the Red Fort area around Majnu ka Tilla where Tibetan refugees had settled. In the early 1990’s Chinese fast food vans mushroomed in front of many Delhi colonies and in the days where cuisine correctness wasn’t high on the menu it was these vans that served the first momos and Thukpas outside of Majnu ka Tilla.
Soon places like Chanakya conjoined Chinese and Tibetan foods much to the utter dismay of politically correct connoisseurs. But when the subject is taste and hunger every crime can be forgiven.
The cinema hall at Chanakya might have died and the leather market in the same complex might not attract as many patrons but the rush at the food stalls remains unchanged. With the mercury showing no signs of rising for the next few days, even weeks, winter’s the best time to pack some piping hot Thukpa.
The vegetables and the meats–chicken and pork are the two popular varieties, along with clear noodle soup can be the perfect accompaniment to a plate of steaming hot momos but to truly enjoy the Thukpa, it needs to be devoured on its own. Adding fresh ground pepper and a dash of the fiery red paste otherwise known as momo sauce to the Thukpa only makes it better and before you know it heavenly warmth engulfs you. This is a dish that provides comfort in the freezing cold and if it can work in the Himalayas then it can surely beat the Delhi winters!