Saturday, 28 August 2010

Tibetan Thukpa

Thukpa is Tibetan noodle soup. Very similar to other noodle soups, that you may find in other parts of Asia. But this is from Tibet, and when you are up in the mountains over 3000 metres, this becomes the best noodle soup ever.
What makes a truly great noodle soup is the stock base. Nearly all the thukpas I have eaten have had an amazing base to them. Not quite up to the standard of Hanoi’s infamous Pho. But it comes a pretty damn good second place.
Sometimes you get fresh noodles, other times it is those pre made egg noodles. Sometimes, and god forbid you even get maggi noodles. Although saying that, eating a hot bowl of maggi noodles at over 4000 metres when your feet and body are soooo cold. All thoughts of how crap they are go out the window.

You always get a small selection of vegetables inside your thukpa, this depends on where you are and on what season, but normally it is either bok choi or cabbage.
The meat is very dependant on where you are also. Chicken or beef are the norm, although in Nepal they use buffalo a lot. We found one place in Arunachal Pradesh, just down form the Se La Pass on the way towards Tawang that was selling Yak Thukpa. A new one for me.
A very flavorsome meat, but not the best in the world. Very chewy, but that maybe just the bad cut we were given. Who knows. But the yak momos were not that good either. A nice animal to look at, but not so good to eat.

I remember almost living on Thukpa on my first trip through northern India and Nepal. It is such a filling and warming meal that gives you some stamina to brave those dark, cold winters nights up in the mountains. Plus for me it is a soup full of good memories, some of the best times I had travelling have been in Ladakh and Nepal.
So on this short trip through the Himalayas I ate as much thukpa as I could. Unfortunately it was not enough, as my schedule did not allow me more than a few days in Nepal, and about the same in Arunachal Pradesh. But it was good whilst it lasted.

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