Sikkim is one of the most beautiful and maintained states in India. It is full of greeneries and neat and clean surroundings. This green state in India gives the country a redefined look and appeal with its charisma and charm. The natural surrounding is not touched by the harsh modernization, especially when it comes to its traditional cuisines. The diverse and colored culture around with the heritage in the state calls a cry to visit the state for all around the world at least once in their lifetime and try the Sikkimese delicacies here.
The level of peace and harmony in this state that one receives on their visit away from the daily chaotic lives in the city is worth experiencing. The flavors in the food in Sikkim is made to relish the tastes as it has a touch of variety in their flavorful cuisines that draws the richness of Tibet, China, Nepal, and India where the food is prepared uniquely with the mix of the recipes hailing from four different countries.
The mix in the food tastes derived through the cross cultures relishes the taste buds and leaves an individual to crave for it again and again and makes it stay memorable in their minds forever. In spite of the state being small, the richness in the food variety in Sikkim is huge and diverse due to the presence in the range of delicacies that are exotic in form. If one desires to try something new, they can rightly visit the state that serves the delicacies as stunning vistas and with authenticity.
The tourism in Sikkim has always been an ultimate form of delight for the tourists, and on the visit, the unique taste of the food through its blended flavors adds to the beauty and charm here without any form of compromise. Sikkim can be rightly called a delightful place for the travelers and the lovers of food, and if one is an ultimate craver of both, then no other place in the world can be better than Sikkim for them.
Famous delicacies in Sikkim
Sikkim has a great variety of food to offer all the visitors that range to a wide extent beyond the thukpas and the momos. The communities in this state have their ways and modes of preparing the food items available here according to the flavors and the richness in the taste that prevail region wise. This gives rise to the preparation of the same dishes in various ways and different tastes.
The community throughout Sikkim is mostly agrarian, and this makes the food items throughout the stateless spicy, fresh, and delicious. The main form of ingredients used in this state comprises of onions, garlic, chilies, cumin, and various subtle yet basic form of hilly flavors. The region is located at high altitude from the sea level, and the climate here is cold and chilly, this makes the fermented forms of food and drinks highly popular throughout.
Nepal, China, Bhutan, and Tibet highly influence the food of Sikkim as these countries are the state’s closest neighbors. However, the basic is rice and the Indian flavors throughout the entire region. The entire region loves meat and is widely available aside from the vegetarian dishes too.
Where can one get these delicious cuisines of Sikkim?
Sikkim has numerous small villages and towns; hence, street food vendors are quite less in number. One needs to visit a guesthouse, hotel, restaurant, or a local café to enjoy its delicacies.
The most delicious and authentic food items that one must never miss out on their visit to Sikkim are as follows:
1. Dumplings (Momos):
Almost everyone around the globe has a love for momos. Momos resemble a complement towards Sikkim as this is one of the most eaten and loved dishes across the entire state. The best taste of momos can be experienced in Sikkim as these are believed to be originated from Tibet and gradually modified according to the mix of Nepali and Indian cuisines, the taste of the dumplings here are worth to experience. The momos are steamed form of buns with filings either of vegetables or meat. The steamed dough made of flour and filling comes along with soup and pickles as main servings. The dumplings are tender due to the addition of baking soda or yeast to the flour dough that helps in the enriching of the momo’s texture.
The momos were mainly made of the meat filling that was grounded in form; however, the modifications introduced to it over the span of years have added on to the taste of the dumplings in a much better way and form. The modern-day fillings can be made of almost anything including cheese, veggies, meat, tofu, and several other edibles that add on to the taste. Cheese momos are something the foodies must never opt out from their cuisine list. The best places where the foodies can much on the lip-smacking delicacies are The Taste of Tibet and The Roll House located in Gangtok.
Thukpa is one of the dishes that is made with a combination of soup and noodles. This is mainly a dish from Tibet and is also one of the loved dishes being a specialty in Sikkim. The Thukpa is known for its rich taste along with the health benefits that it serves. Both form of vegetable Thukpa and chicken Thukpa is available where a variety of vegetables are the main ingredients in then noodle-soup combination.
In Sikkim, the vegetables used are mainly of the hilly and local origin, and the most common form of vegetable used are cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, spinach, celery, and bell peppers. The taste of the Thukpa is enriched with the combination of spices and herbs used for its preparation and serve a much-desired balance to the appetite and the health. The availability of this dish is never a question throughout the entire state as this is available almost anywhere and everywhere in Sikkim. Local vendors are the ones who serve the Thukpas with the best and authentic taste to relish for a lifetime.
Though the Phagshapa is not as renowned as momos and Thukpa in Sikkim but is one of the dishes to fall in love with once eaten, this is a loved cuisine in Sikkim, which creates a thrill to the stomach and the taste buds of the ones who possess a love for pork. The dish comprises of a tangy and spicy flavor that is sure to relish every consumer to the extreme with its richness and cultural taste. The main ingredients of the dish are radish and pork, which cannot stop anyone to start munching on it as soon as the platter is brought on their tables. This is also one of the healthy dishes that almost all can have without being concerned about their health.
It serves the right amount of protein to the diet with the vegetables contained in it and very less or no oil at all. This is a perfect treat for the taste buds along with the health all together at the same moment. There is no form of vegetarian substitute for the dish as the main component of this preparation is pork. The best place in Sikkim to enjoy this dish is in Gangtok at the Golden Dragon Hotel. This place serves the Phagshapa in the most delicious and authentic form throughout the entire state.
4. Sha Phaley
Sha Phaley is a dish of Tibetan origin. It enhances the taste buds of humans as soon as one starts having it. Sha Phaley has a wonderful combination that everyone loves. It has meat, bread, and deep-fried stuff, and the combination of all these three gives a person out of the world experience. The most important thing one needs to know about Sha Phaley is it has a ground beef and cabbage stuffed bread that is given the shape of semi-circles and then deep-fried as part of the preparation. The inside stuffing taste is heavenly, whereas the outside coating is crispy.
The first bite of the golden semi-circle tells one everything about the dish and its taste. Nowadays, one will find several variations in this dish, as numerous experiments were done to make it something new. These changes have been brought about to the traditional dish as people demands these types of variations. Some of the famous additions are using tofu or cheese in the stuffing. Individuals are loving these additions and accepting the changes readily. Vegans can enjoy the Sha Phaley dish with tofu fillings in place of meat. One can visit the Roll House situated in the capital city of Sikkim to taste some of the best Sha Phaley dishes with its variations and also the traditional form.
Gundruk is believed to have its origin from Nepal. It is a staple food of the Nepalese people. This dish is completely vegan as it is formed of leafy ingredients. It is very good for health; hence, many health-conscious people just love consuming it. Leafy vegetables like radish and cabbage are used to make this dish. The traditional form of this dish uses mustard leaves in its preparation. A properly and traditionally cooked Gundruk is mostly found in village households where people make it for daily consumption in their homes. The food contains a large amount of roughage that assists in maintaining the body’s metabolism.
Originally this dish is prepared in an earthen pot, but presently other ways have taken the place of the pots for making the Gundruk. This is the only food item which has not done through any alterations in all these years. It is still prepared in the same traditional way even after ages and shows little or no alterations in most cases. This dish is mainly served and consumed during the winter season when it is chilly cold outside. The cost of this dish is very low, and everyone can easily afford it.
Sinki is a traditional dish of Sikkim. Even after all these years, this dish has not gone through any major transformation in its cooking process as well as in the types of ingredients used. Sinki has many similarities to Gundruk. It is a fermented food of Sikkim. Fermented bamboo is used in its preparation in place of fermented vegetables. Radish tap roots are used to prepare this dish. The roots of radish are chopped and filled inside bamboo and then pressed over with a straw. The bamboo is then covered with mud and vegetation and left aside like this for a month.
A miracle is done by bacteria, which is an interesting way. Thus, is can be called a bacterium curing process. A month-long prepared Sinki which is fresh will last for a year without rotting. It is added in soups and stews. The soup made using Sinki is delicious and famous all over the state. When in Sikkim, this food is something one cannot afford to miss out. The Sinki is often used as a pickle and consumed along with other dishes like parathas.
7. Sael Roti
Sael roti is also known as Sel Roti. The process of preparing it is simple. A batter of fermented rice id made and deep-fried in the shape of soft pretzel rings. This dish is very popular and is consumed mainly during special occasions and festivals. It has the shape of a crusted donut.
8. Paneer Cheese
Sikkim is a huge producer of cheese and is an active international exporter. This fact is quite unknown to many people across the country. It produces some of the finest cheese which are of really high quality. One such cheese type is Sikkim Alpine Cheese Spread, which is very popular globally. It is known to have raised the standard of cheese produced in the state to a completely new level. Talking about cheese in general one must try some of the renowned cheese dishes, especially in West Sikkim.
9. Tibetan Bread
This bread is available in various style and shape as per the requirement of customers. People most often like a skillet flatbread which has a hard-outer crust but is soft inside. These types of bread are thick and have a basic flavor with a slight flavor of olive oil. These Tibetan breads are considered staple for people who go on trekking. One can also have this bread with different veg and non-veg side dishes as that would result in added flavor to the dish, and it becomes more filling. One can even have the bread with Yak cheese.
10. Yak Cheese
Yak Cheese is high on protein and tastes creamier. It is higher in nutrients and fat than the cheeses that are made of milk from the cow. Yaks are very common in the higher altitude places in the Himalayas. Sikkim also has cut cubes for locals who are hardened for preservation, yak cheese candies for Sherpas and mountaineers to suck on or chew. One can try a yak cheese meal at any popular restaurant in the town as it tastes fantastic. It has a slightly smoky and rubbery texture with tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and onions. It is a famous dish of the region.
This is a popular dish not only of Sikkim but other parts of the country as well. It is considered as a dessert drink which is formed of yogurt. Lassi is a sweet drink that is a mixture of mil and curd or dahi as known in India. Often sugar, spices, and fruits are mixed with it to form the drink. It is a good probiotic for the stomach and helps in getting a healthier gut.
The locally made alcohol of Sikkim is tasty as well as low in price. The Chaang is also a brewed alcohol that is made out of fermented rice, millets, and yeast. It is potent to a great extent. It is drunk using a bamboo pipe and is hence served in the same manner for sipping in.
13. Chhurpi-Ningro Curry
It is a dish of Sikkim that is a must try when one visits the place. People of Sikkim loves having ferns hence this is a dish formed of chhurpi and fiddle headed alpine ferns.
Sikkim is a wonderful place which has limited authentic food, but all of them are delicious to an extreme extent. Many of the food items have their roots in Tibet and Nepal. However, the place adds some local essence to these traditional foods which enhance their tastes and adds something extra, which is only found in Sikkim.
Sikkim’s delicious cuisine is not only about taste but also health. Most of the food is good for body metabolism and staying fit. The foods there are simple yet elegant. They have made vegetables taste wonderful by using their innovating cooking skills. The flavors of their cuisines touch the hearts of people and remain in their mind forever.