Category Archives: Cuisine in Ladakh


Ladakhi food has much in common with Tibetan food, the most prominent foods being thupka (noodle soup) and tsampa , known in Ladakhi as ngampe (roasted barley flour). Edible without cooking, tsampa makes useful trekking food. A dish that is strictly Ladakhi is skyu, a heavy pasta dish with root vegetables. As Ladakh moves toward a cash-based economy, foods from the plains of India are becoming more common. As in other parts of Central Asia, tea in Ladakh is traditionally made with strong green tea, butter, and salt. It is mixed in a large churn and known as gurgur cha, after the sound it makes when mixed. Sweet tea (cha ngarmo) is common now, made in the Indian style with milk and sugar. Most of the surplus barley that is produced is fermented into chang, an alcoholic beverage drunk especially on festive occasions.

Tourists in Ladakh can try local Ladakhi food, which is nourishing and usually mildly flavored. Favorites include Thukpa, a thick soup with vegetables that provides a complete meal and delicious Momos or steamed dumplings stuffed with meat or vegetables, accompanied by a fiery chili sauce.
There are also many bakeries in Ladakh where you can buy freshly baked bread and enjoy eating it with locally made Apricot Jam. There are many restaurants in Leh, where you can have an international meal or choose from Tibetan or Ladakhi fare if you prefer.

Some Ladakhi Cuisine
Apart from Tsampa there are few other delicacies too that one should get a taste of while visiting Ladakh: 

  • Pava – peas and barley flour boiled in water for a long time until the peas are hard.
  • Chalak – a mixture of tea, butter, sugar and Tsampa.
  • Khambish – bread made from wheat flour.
  • Thukpa – water and wheat flour made into noodles and dropped into boiling water and then served with a flavoured meat sauce.
  • Gugur Chai– salt tea, made from green tea, salt, soda from the Nubra valley, butter and milk.
  • Curd– made from yak milk.
  • Moe Moe– steamed Tsampa dough, usually with meat in the middle like dumplings.
  • Gyatug – a dish of long, vermicelli like strips of Tsampa over which minced meat and a flavoured sauce is poured.
  • Skir – a hotpot of meat, potatoes, grain and sometimes vegetables.
  • Kambir – small round breads, sometimes tasting sweet.
  • Holkur – Ladakhi biscuit made of sugar, nuts and grain meal. Normally baked by the host himself to be served to the patrons.

Chang – The Local Beer 

Beware of the effects of the native beer – Chang. High altitude and too much alcohol do not mix well! Nevertheless one should try some of this local alcoholic beverage. One should also try Chang in a village at some stage, as it usually tastes much better. Chang is a beer, home brewed from barley and millet partially seasoned by the addition of pepper and sugar. It is not filtered before serving so dregs and grains are found ‘swimming’ in the liquid. In short, Chang is a most unusual pleasure for the palate. In Ladakh one finds, as in the other Himalayan states with a population, which belongs to the Tibetan group, no manufacture of spirit liquors.

Some good restaurants in Leh are:

  • Shangri La –offers Korean cuisine
  • Himalaya Café – for good Tibetan fare
  • Penguin Bar and Restaurant – has a German Bakery with a wide choice of baked goods.
  • Mentokling Restaurant – offers pizzas cooked over a traditional wood-fired oven
  • Pumpernickel German Bakery –offers lasagna and a fixed-price breakfast, as well as picnic meals.
  • Dreamland Restaurant – offers Tibetan, Kashmiri, Indian and Italian food.
  • Budshah Inn – offers Chinese and Kashmiri cuisine

Restaurants in Ladakh offer many kinds of cuisine including Tibetan, Korean, Chinese, and Western dishes.


Like the land itself, the people of Ladakh are generally quite different from those of the rest of India. The faces and physique of the Ladakhis, and the clothes they wear, are more akin to those of Tibet and Central Asia than of India. The Ladakh people are said to be the most simple and cheerful in nature. Even their lifestyle is very simple and they prefer to remain close to the nature. Dresses for Ladakh man and woman are totally different.  Women wear the Goncha, which is a loose thick woolen robe that is tied on waist by a colorful band and men wear loose pyjamas with a hat. The Buddhist people wear bright brick red color robe.

On special occasions, people wear bright and silk robes. The original population may have been Dards, an Indo-Aryan race down from the Indus and the Gilgit area. Besides the culture, religion also influences the lifestyle in Leh Ladakh. Monastic rituals and festival engage people throughout the year. The gompas and monasteries are venues for religious feasts. Buddhist festivals draw crowds of tourists as well. Women enjoy independence within and outside the household. They take part in social and religious ceremonies like childbirth, marriages and festivals.

The culture of Ladakh is rich with the Buddhism culture. The main culture of Ladakh is Buddhism with other bit part of religion of Hindu, Muslims and Christians. The land has many rocks engraving of Buddhist speaking even in areas like Drass and lower Suru valley. Most of the Muslim residents will be found at the Padum, Nubra valley and nearby places of Leh. The monasteries in Leh Ladakh display the culture of Buddhism. Even the women in Ladakh are fully affected by the religion of the place. Here, women of Buddhist and Muslim culture, works not only at home but also works outside the home. Some families also run their business in which women take the full participation. They are totally free to interact with the men outside their home.

The most appreciated fact of Leh Laddakh is the status of women in Laddakh. The women enjoy a highly elevated status compared to the conservative nature of the other northern states of India. Rugged and rough, lifestyle in Laddakh can really be challenging yet the people of Laddakh maintain that unique smile on their face.