May 2, 2023
Ladakhi Cuisine is one of the most evolved in the world. Developed over thousands of years and incubated in the highlands of the Himalayas, it is said to be the quintessential mountain food that is healthy, wholesome and tasty. Let’s take a look at some of its most revered contributions as prepared by the chefs of the famous Lchang Nang Retreat in Nubra Valley, Ladakh.
Chef Chet whose creations have inspired awe and envy among connoisseurs and spawned a growing global following. In the traditionally designed and orthodoxly operated Kitchens of Lchang Nang, age-old recipes are given new life by reinterpreting and embellishing cooking conventions without abandoning the classical art form.
From a plethora of Ladakhi delights, we asked our experts to choose the 5 best dishes that all non-Ladakhis must try. We requested a truly representational sampling that showcases the essence of Ladakhi flavors and cooking styles without being too experimental for uninitiated palates. Here is what they came back with:
1. Grilled Chicken with Lemon Rice & Sautéed Vegetables: Popular all over the world in different guises, the Ladakhi variant of this universal dish comes with a few interesting twists and turns. Extensive pre-preparation includes a special way to tenderize the chicken and marinated overnight with a rich red wine does wonders. The vegetables are sautéed in butter and garlic but cooked only minimally to retain their taste and texture. When paired with traditional long-grain rice and served with Balut Sauce, the result is an intoxicating medley for a well-balanced meal.
2. Himalayan Rambo Trout with Crispy Potato: Fresh Himalayan Rambo Trout is marinated with olive oil and a combination of local herbs that bring out its flavor. It is then batter-baked for 20 minutes at 180 Degrees Celsius, resulting in a succulent preparation that melts in your mouth while retaining all of its valuable nutrition. Fresh garden greens and crispy potato make the perfect accompaniment for a crescendo of flavors.
3. Kothey Momo: The perfect Momo rarely exists outside Ladakh. Here, in its natural habitat, it is cooked to perfection until it is crispy on the outside and yet soft and creamy on the inside. Skillfully made with fresh garden vegetables and expertly pan-fried to that perfect golden colour, this dish is beautifully served with chilli garlic and tomato chilli sauces to make it the jewel of any well-laid table.
4. Shapaley: A local delicacy originating in Ladakh, Shapaley is a mouth-melting Barley Sattu Crepe stuffed with sundried tomatoes and Churpey, a traditional type of cheese, and then given a circular or semicircular shape before pan frying or deep frying to perfection. Creamy and flaky, this is one of the most popular appetizers in Ladakhi cuisine and the perfect start to a memorable meal.
5. Omaskyu: A soupy dish infused with fresh spinach, caramelized carrots and potatoes along with local herbs and spices, it has a soft, creamy and comforting texture that is best enjoyed piping hot. Often infused with meat and served with Momos, on cold Ladakhi days, this nourishing broth is the go-to comfort food for locals and visitors alike.
Besides these 5 famous dishes, Ladakhi cuisine offers a lot of other delicious delicacies that are underrated and underrepresented on the global scene but are slowly gaining traction. So the next time you think of trying something new because you are bored of the usual fare, be sure to venture into one of the most advanced and evolved cooking traditions in the world that is sure to tantalize the taste buds but also nourish and comfort.
For a truly authentic culinary journey, one must visit the land of Ladakh. Here, you will find treasures that will take months to explore in their entirety and a lifetime to fully understand and imbibe. One of the best places to stay in Ladakh is the Lchang Nang Retreat – The House of Trees in Nubra Valley. Besides being an enchanting place to stay, it is a culinary haven for earthly delights.
Located on the ancient Silk Route and surrounded by pristine valleys, mountains and riverbanks, Lchang Nang Retreat is the perfect place to explore Ladakhi cuisine amid the solace, solitude and breathtaking beauty that only Ladakh can provide.