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What Is Thukpa?

By Lakshmi Sandhana
Updated May 16, 2024
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Thukpa is a special, clear noodle soup that is made with a mixture vegetables and may include meat. It's an extremely popular dish in most of the countries around the Himalayan region, such as Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan. In India, this dish is quite commonly found in the states of Ladakh, Arunachal, Pradesh, and Sikkim. It is traditionally known as gya thuk and may contain noodles in different shapes. The Nepali version of thukpa is the most widely known version due to it's spicy flavor.

One of the traditional foods that is served during the Tibetan New Year, this soup can normally be found in many restaurants. While it can be prepared with just vegetables, the meat version of the soup is more popular and is a favorite one-pot meal for many. Considered to be hearty fare for those living in the colder regions of North West India, this hot noodle soup is loaded with fiber and nutrients. It has a low calorific value and can be digested quickly, making it quite a healthy food choice.

The major ingredients that make up thukpa include garlic paste, shredded meat, Tibetan noodles, and vegetables. The recipe also calls for spices such as bay leaf, cumin powder, turmeric, and black pepper. The vegetables are fried separately, and the spices and the boiled noodles are added to the mixture along with water. The soup is allowed to boil until the shredded meat is completely cooked, and it is served topped with cilantro or green onions. While it normally has a mild flavor, its hotness can be altered to suit the palate by adding more spices and masalas.

The soup is a complete meal in itself and is normally eaten at dinnertime or as a snack. Traditionally served with steamed momos, it also pairs well with rice, sausages, and meat rolls. Thukpa can be made in different ways, and some of the variations are thenthuk, pathug, and drethug. Thenthuk is a popular variation of this soup that uses flat, square-shaped noodles that resemble bits of pasta instead of regular string noodles. Other variations may include soups made with egg and even tofu.

Many of the ingredients used to make thukpa depend upon the locality; for instance, lamb thukpas made by the Sherpas in the Himalayan region typically include yak meat. While yak meat may sound like an exotic ingredient, the meat itself has a mild flavor, and the soup relies on the spices used for its flavor. Pork, mutton, beef, and chicken are some of the other meats that can be used to make the dish. Even with the inclusion of meats, this is one of the most inexpensive dishes to have when traveling in Himalayan countries.

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