Boudha III – Tibetan and Sherpa cuisine
The Boudhanath stupa, known initially as Khasti chaitya, has a different vibe. It is still being determined if this is due to preconceived ideas about Buddhism. However, you feel peaceful and meditative. You feel like you can find selfness and peace within, despite all the noise and crowds. There are many people in the environment: devotees make kora around the stupa; there are also visitors who walk around taking photos, vendors selling local food, and I will just be watching as the time goes by, if not eating local food.
It may surprise many people that Boudha has a unique and fascinating food scene. This is due to the cultural and traditional values of the Boudha Sherpa, Tamang, Tibetan and Sherpa communities. It is also an indication of how diverse and rich the Nepali food culture is. Every time I visit Boudha I try new local foods and learn more about them. After a long day of cycling (Kathmandu Kora Cycling Challenge), I stopped in Boudha and searched for the Rildok Sherpa dish I’ve wanted to try for so many years.
A small alley is located on the western side, next to Himalayan Java. It leads to a few small restaurants serving Tibetan and Sherpa dishes. At the entrance, look out for the signboard that reads “Solu Sherpa Khaja Ghar”. To find the best local food, you should enter the alleyway and look for the small but clean eatery that is crowded with locals. They don’t usually feature on tripadvisor. If you want to eat good local food, stay away from tripadvisor. As I entered the alleyway, I heard the heavy sound of pounding. This is how you can tell fresh rildok has been prepared. Rildok a Sherpa classic soup that includes pounded potato dumplings. After the mountainous potatoes have been boiled, they are then pounded in a large wooden mortar using a heavy wooden pestle to make them soft and silky. They are then made into small dumplings, which can be cooked in tomato, onion, and garlic soup.
It was the first time I had rildok. The potato dumplings were light and fluffy enough to melt in the mouth. Simple soup made from tomato, onion, and garlic adds a lot of flavour to this dish. To add even more flavor, sprinkle some Timur or chillies. The rildok is so good and satisfying, I returned for another bowl after an hour.
I also had the best rikikur Sherpa potato pancake in this tiny eatery, Himalayan Sherpa Food House. Freshly prepared potato pancakes were served with yak butter, serkam, a sauce made from a thick layer of boiled wholemilk, spring onion green chilies and coriander leaves. The potato pancake with butter and sauce is divine when hot.
Phalgi is a winter soup made from local beans, dried green maize and meat. For phalgi, you can try the restaurant next to Himalayan Sherpa Food House. Unfortunately, it’s only available in winter. Now, I cannot wait for winter.
Phalgi: A hearty Sherpa winter stew that is made with dried boiled green maize, beans from the area, and sometimes smoke-dried meat.
The food culture of Sherpa and Tibetan is often mistaken for one another. While Sherpa shares the same heritage, roots, religion and heritage as Tibetans, they have their own distinct food culture and cuisines. Very few Tibetan women came to try the Sherpa dish when I was there. They said that Sherpa dishes are very different from Tibetan dishes and had never heard of rikikur, phalgi. shyabhalep, on the other hand, is more Sherpa-like than Sherpa.