Culture and Food in Ladakh – As explore worthy as the city itself

by Sanchita Jhunjhunwala

Ladakh is one of the must-visit places for every traveller ever. Courtesy the summer season, it tops the list for almost everyone. While the city is totally explore-worthy, the culture and food in Ladakh are equally pretentious. Ladakh food and culture is highly influenced by Tibetan culture, and hence, isn’t very typical of what is seen in the rest of India.

Dominated by Buddhist lifestyle, Ladakh has Buddhist monasteries, pillars and old rock carvings as major attractions. While the city is a sight to behold, the culture and lifestyle here is the kind one would like to know about.

Religious festivals held in the monasteries provide for an occasion of social gatherings, while sports like archery and polo are a favourite pass time for the inhabitants. During summers, Archery is nothing short of a festival. An ancestral sport, Archery turns out to be an important part of Ladakh culture. All the villages have a gala time during the festival, and there’s a healthy competition that prevails amongst the teams.

Yet another addition to the culture of Ladakh, Polo here isn’t a sport like it is in the foreign land. Polo, in Ladakh, isn’t just a competition, and, isn’t be suited only to the rich. Dated to as early as the mid 17th century, Polo is more like culture and a thing connected to their lifestyle. In fact, the competition of common man v/s the army men finds more support for the former.

Having said that, there is Ladakh food which in many ways is like no other! Food in Ladakh shouldn’t be missed, just like there is a list of places including lakes of Ladakh, and others. The local cuisine here is lip smacking and the kind that one would want to return to this place for.

So if you’re planning your summer trip to Ladakh, here’s the list of Ladakh food you mustn’t miss.

1. Thukpa

Thuk means heartwarming, and hence comes the name Thukpa. One of the most famous items amongst Ladakh food, Thukpa is delicious. More like soup and vegetables presented with noodles, they are served as a dinner item. Thukpa makes for perfect food in the cold region of Ladakh – to be consumed hot, and is full of spice. For taste and self-satisfaction, one can also add chicken to it and have it as a clear soup. Famous not only in Ladakh, but Thukpa is also much loved in Himachal, Darjeeling and many other cold regions.

2. For the love of chai – Butter tea

butter tea ladakh

By Laura Blankenship (Flickr: Butter tea) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Tea lovers wouldn’t want to miss this out as this is totally exclusive to Ladakh. While the food in Ladakh is scrumptious, butter tea is tasteful as well. Not your regular kind of sweet tea, this one has salt and butter added to it. Pink in colour owing to the additional ingredients, which gives it the unique flavour is its way of preparation. The tea leaves are soaked in water for half a day, and yak butter is prepared on wooden equipment. What we consume is a different kind of chai. Not just for the taste buds, butter tea is also essential to help protect the leaves from chapping and keeping up with the altitude sickness.

3. Tigmo

Served as both snack, and a meal, Tigmo (pronounced: Teemo) is flavoured vegetable stew. Essentially comprised of vegetables, Tigmo is served with fermented bread. Originally a vegetable dish, it has a chicken variant to it as well. Taste-wise, it is can be spiced up, or sweetened down or kept a little sour. The bread that goes with it could be in the form of a pav, roti or a chapathi. This is the kind of food in Ladakh that one will surely devour.

4. Mokthuk

When in the mountains, all you need is some warm soup to help you keep up, and there is some brandy or rum of course. But, for the major part of your meals, food in Ladakh is served in the form of a liquid item with some kind of bread, etc. Mokthuk, in particular, is momos and soup combined! Just the kind of Ladakh food you were looking for, isn’t it? A variation of Thukpa, the only difference here is there are vegetables and momos instead of noodles.

5. Chhupri or Yak cheese

Good food isn’t complete without cheese, is it? One of the most extravagant delicacies of the Himalayas, Chhupri is made by adding lime and other citrus fruits to yak milk. A cumbersome preparation process, but a yummilicious result in the end. Chhupri is proof that Ladakh food isn’t all just soups and noodles!

You should try food in Ladakh to truly experience the region.


(This video is made using

And that was all about the kind of culture and food most prevalent in Ladakh. While in Ladakh, don’t miss out on Ladakh food, especially from the locales and the natives. And, while the food in Ladakh will fill your stomachs with the delicacies, the culture shall feed your soul! Also you should checkout the various adventurous things to do in Ladakh and see the beautiful lakes in Ladakh.

Plan anywhere to anywhere


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