Tibet, known as the "Roof of the World", is famous for its unmatched beauty and ancient history. Due to the extremely high altitudes, and harsh climate, Tibetan culture has had to adapt. Tibetan food has also adapted. Tibetan food is not only sustenance, but also helps Tibetan people survive the harsh climates. Their food keeps them warm, gives them energy, helps them with the high altitude, and gives them nutrients essential to the harsh climate. Due to the high altitude of Tibet, water boils at 90 degrees making cooking with water impossible, and vegetables are scarce in the high altitude, so Tibetan cuisine has become very specialized. The main ingredients are meat, and dairy products. The food in Tibet shows a strong similarity to that in India and parts of China, but is uniquely Tibetan.
Zanba is a major Tibetan staple food, made from roasted Qingke Barley Flour. Tibetans mix this with buttered tea to make Zanba. Highland barley flour is also used to prepare various other dishes including noodles and bread. The Tsampa served with buttered tea is salty, while the Tsampa made into porridge is often sweet. Tibetan people eat Tsampa at every meal, and when traveling, it is brought along as a ready-made meal.
Yaks are one of the most common animals on the plateau and the meat is very popular with in Tibet. Locals use many creative recipes to cook the meat and it certainly goes well with drinking Qingke barley liquor. Roasted yak meats, fried yak meat and cold yak meat dressed with sauces are all delicious.
Local yogurt is a little different because it is made from yak milk, which has a high butter fat content and this makes the yogurt very creamy. It is still made in the natural traditional way from boiled milk that is cooled and fermented with yogurt culture. This produces a stronger flavor and some people like to add some sugar. Yogurt is available everywhere in the city from small stalls selling it very cheaply.
A major local beverage, buttered tea is often drunk whilst eating another local staple food, zanba (roasted qingke barley flour). The tea is made from tea leaves, yak butter and salt and therefore provides much needed energy and calories in this high climate.
Qingke Barley Liquor
Qingke Barley Liquor is a Tibetan favorite. It is brewed from Qingke barley, a major highland grain grown on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Qingke Barley Liquor is popular during festivals, weddings, dinners and as a gift for friends.
Lhasa Barley Beer
It is an all-malt European style lager, but is made from ingredients such as Himalayan spring water, barley and yeast. However, 30 percent of the malt content derives from the huskless native Tibetan barley which is partly responsible for giving the beer its characteristic crisp clean taste, along with the aromatic saaz ingredient.
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