Food & Cuisine in Sikkim
Sikkim food and cuisine is an umbrella term for diverse ethnic Himalayan cuisines. For the traveller, there are plenty of food options to explore in the form of Nepali and Tibetan cuisine to other ethnic groups like Lepcha and Bhutia. Apart from these, there's always the ubiquitous North Indian cuisine that's found in restaurants worldwide. The main shopping areas of Gangtok are packed with Sikkim restaurants and pubs. Tibetan street food is also relatively safe to try. Mineral water and aerated beverages are sold widely.
Thukpa or Gya-thuk is a filling and delicious noodle soup, an all-in-one meal containing meat (pork/mutton/chicken/beef), vegetables and herbs with deceptively large sized bowls for thukpa digests rapidly.
Our Sikkim Restaurants Guide below tells you all about the local dining scene in Sikkim. Other great delights for the taste buds can be found in the India restaurants guide. After filling up in Gangtok, book one of our Gangtok hotels. When browsing for food check out what souvenirs are also good to buy at our Sikkim shopping page.
Food & Cuisine in Sikkim
Rice is a staple cereal in the food and cuisine of Sikkim eaten all over. Additionally, wheat, buckwheat, finger millet and barley grown at various altitudes find their way into local diets. Meat is an important part of traditional diet. Other common items grown and consumed locally are potato, soybean and some vegetables.
When eating out in Sikkim you will find Tibetan momos, steamed wheat flour dumplings stuffed with meat or vegetables, are popular as snacks or starters. Eaten with sweet and spicy sauces or dunked into bowls of soup, momos are sold by street vendors everywhere.
Try a plate of Pakku, Nepali mutton curry served with rice. Local breads include kodo ki roti, a pancake made from finger millet and phapar ki roti, made from buckwheat. Interesting vegetarian preparations include til ko alu, Nepali-style potato curry with sesame seeds and sishnu, a nettle leaf soup.
Fermented foods are important in Nepali cuisine, prepared from various vegetables and preserved to last through the long, harsh winter. Kinema is fermented soybean curry eaten with rice, an inexpensive source of protein. Vegetables are naturally fermented, sun dried and stored for future use. Gundruk is prepared from the leaves of radish, cauliflower, mustard and rayo sag, a type of spinach. Sinki is made from the tap root of radish. Both dishes are eaten as appetizers, used in soups or served with rice and pickles. Mesu or fermented bamboo shoots is a sour and acidic tasting food with a high mineral content.
Among dairy products, chhurpi, or traditional cottage cheese is cooked with herbs and spices and served as an accompaniment to rice. Depending on availability, buttermilk and dahi (yoghurt) are also regular meal accompaniments.
A large variety of fermented alcoholic drinks have ritual and social significance among the several ethnic groups in Sikkim. A daily meal is incomplete without one of these alcoholic beverages being served alongside. Jaanr or chaang is a mild alcohol made from any of several cereals like finger millet, rice, barley or wheat. It is traditionally sipped from a bamboo container with a bamboo pipe. Raksi is a clear wine distilled from fermented rice.