What to Eat and Shop in Ladakh?

Everyone focuses on the bike ride tour and adventure activities when it comes to Ladakh. But, there are a lot of things for food lovers and shopaholics in ‘The Land Of High Passes’. The place is known for its unique and delicious food items and drinks, which you should not miss. Also, shopaholics find solace amidst the diverse shopping arcades offering exclusive shopping items and souvenirs. Keep on reading to know more about eating and shopping in Ladakh.

Not-To-Miss Food of Ladakh

Whenever the hunger pangs strike, you want to just eat anything that can fill your stomach. But, you cannot do this in Ladakh. There are loads of food items that you should try when in Ladakh. Some of the most popular food items in this region that you should not miss are:

1. Tigmo: This is a must-have cuisine of the region that contains a stew of vegetables along with fermented bread pieces. The dish is available in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian variants. Tigmo, spelled as teemo, is sweet and spicy in taste.

2. Kulcha/Khambir: Kulcha and khambir are the traditional pieces of breads staple in Ladakh. Ladakhi Kulcha is a hard bun, unlike the softer version that is usually available. Khambir is a brown-colored bread that is pan-shaped, slightly thicker, and crispy. It tastes delicious with jam, butter, or egg. These are the snacks often served with butter tea or qahwa.

3. Cholak: It is a delicious delicacy of this region made using three major ingredients Tsampa, Chang, and buttermilk. Tsampa is made from roasted grain, saltwater, and barley.

4. Momos: You cannot miss momos when you are in Ladakh. The Ladakhi momos are quite different as these are prepared using the spices from the Himalayas.

5. Thukpa: You must have heard about the dish ‘Thukpa’. If not, then you should definitely try this. It’s a noodle recipe that contains a clear soup made from the vegetable. The non-vegetarian variant of this dish is also available. This is a spicy dish that is served hot and thus, it is perfect for cold weather.

6. Thenktuk: This is a variant of Thukpa that contains noodles and fragments of flour dough in a clear vegetable soup. The vegetables used in this dish are spinach, radish, garlic, potato, tomato, onion, and cilantro. It is less spicy in comparison to Thukpa.

7. Mokthuk: A Tibetan dish, Mokthuk is another variant of Thukpa with a twist. It is a soup that contains vegetables and momos. Sounds interesting? It is a perfect delight for momo lovers. You can also get non-veg Mokthuk.

8. Qahwa: It is an essential drink of the region like the butter tea. It is prepared using two main ingredients, saffron, and cinnamon. The drink helps in keeping the body warm. You can also buy qahwa as it is available in the local grocery shops under two brands, King’s and Kanwal.

9. Butter Tea: This is a must-try drink of the region. Butter tea not at all tastes like the usual tea. It is pinkish in color, salty in flavor, and has a unique aroma. The main ingredients of this tea are water, tea leaves, salt, and butter.

10. Holkur: Holkur is a type of biscuit that is prepared using multigrain, nuts, and sugar. It is delicious and served with butter tea or qahwa. Also, it can be consumed as a snack.

11. Phirni: Phirni is somewhat like kheer and it is a delicious dessert that you must try. It is served in a kulhad (a pot made using mud), which makes it even tastier. This pudding is prepared using boiled rice, vermicelli, sugar, and milk. It may contain dry fruits and pistachios also.

12. Cheese from Yak’s milk (Chhurpi): Chhurpi is the cheese prepared using the milk of Yak. It is different from regular cheese and has a unique flavor. It is available in almost all bakeries of Ladakh.

13. Sea Buckthorn Juice: This is a special juice that is prepared using the special Leh Berries and found only in Ladakh. It is rich in Omega 3 fatty acid and tastes really good.

Some of the popular restaurants where you can find the above-mentioned delicacies are Tibetan Kitchen, Tenzin Dickey Tibetan, Chopsticks Noodle Bar, Lamayuru Restaurant, Tingmo at Thongsal, and Bon Appetit, to name a few.

A Paradise For Shopaholics

You cannot save yourself from buying the stuff available in the local markets of Ladakh. At least, you buy souvenirs and memorabilia for yourself or your near and dear ones. The local bazaars of Ladakh have their own charm and you can easily spend hours by just browsing the stuff. Here is a list of things to buy in Ladakh:

1.            Tibetan handicrafts & wares

Tibetan handicrafts & wares are one of the most precious items that everyone should buy as memorabilia of Ladakh. These handmade artifacts feature attractive Thangka paintings.

2.            Silver and Stone Jewelry

Ladakh is famous for offering intricately designed silver, stone, and turquoise jewelry. You will get amazing designs of jewelry made of silver, vibrant turquoise, and coral pieces. These are the traditional pieces worn by Tibetans and Ladakhis. Get a wide variety of earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets, anklets, key chains, and more.

3.            Pashmina shawls and woolens

Pashmina is a well-known material that always remains in demand. Real pashmina can pass through a finger ring fluidly. A real pashmina shawls are readily available in the Ladakh region. Also, you can get a wide variety of sweaters, caps, gloves, socks, blankets, etc.  

4.            Rugs & Kashmiri Carpets

You can get amazing naturally-dyed and hand-woven rugs and Kashmiri carpets in Ladakh. These are available in appealing designs with floral or dragon representations. You can either use them as wall hangings or carpets.

5.            Apricots’ Jam or Oil

Apricots are locally grown in Ladakh and thus, its jam and oil are widely famous here. You can also shop for organic apricot jam and oil from the markets of Ladakh. The jam is truly delicious and oil is beneficial for skin, hair, and overall health.

You can purchase the above-mentioned items from Main Bazaar, Tibetan Handicraft Emporium (Main Bazaar Road) and Tibetan Handicraft Community Showroom (Choglamsar), Ladakh Art Palace, Buddhist Thangka House, Cottage Industries Exposition (Changspa), Dalai Lama Charitable Trust Handicraft Emporium, and Ladag Apricot Store. Open Tibetan Market (off Old Leh Road) is a good option for bargainers, who want to purchase clothes and antiques. And, Moti Market (near Leh bus stand) is good for jewelry, semi-precious stones, and handicrafts. To buy traditional Ladakhi dress, you can visit the Shar Market.

So, pack your bags and undertake this adventure-filled journey.

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