Traditional Sikkimese foods that taste as unique as they sound

sikkim food

Sikkim- the land of all things spectacular, whether it be in its rich repository of biodiversity or its scenic mode in natural beauty as well as its proud standing in magnificent man made monuments, all permeated by the crisp mountain air in all freshness and serenity, endowing upon it a fervour understated but discernible still in its essence of the calm that sails through its ambient landscape in all free flowing spirit of calmness of almost divine leanings. In Sikkim, one comes to discover the closest connect with nature both through its dignified coursing in organic distinction as well as in its continuing existence along the meadows of the greens and across the expanse of the blues.

The food of Sikkim too is no any encounter in staid simmering, but offers instead a bubbling up of flavours across many an elements of the ultimate alluding to both taste and quality for a epicurean experience that is riveting and satisfying all at once. Here’s taking a look at 10 of the most traditional Sikkimese foods that carry every essence of this land rested in the most exotic allure of nature-

Phagshapa

Venturing beyond the common notion of spicy food unable to pass off as anything even remotely healthy is a very interesting Sikkimese dish. Extremely popular a street food is this non vegetarian delight called the phagshapa that though pales in its spiciness when compared to the other local fare rather zesty in their flavour and taste. Surprisingly as well, phagshapa is more common a summer dish made from pork. But rather than the meat, it instead are strips of pork fat that are cooked with spices, red chillies and radishes.

A protein rich, no oil preparation is what makes this unique slow cooked stew really healthy indeed, and makes for a hearty serving as well when paired with some steaming hot rice. Immensely flavourful a concoction of spicy tanginess and yet easier on the palate than most other similarly spice imbued dishes of the state, Phagshapa stands out both in its component as well as the experience entailed out of its medley in the most authentic flavours. Deriving its characteristic taste from the pork fat left on the meat that is added to the locally flavoured stew, this is a dish that shapes out as a curious culinary endeavor exclusively exalting the already much fancied expanse of pork meat.

Barhey

Barhey
Source: Facebook

One of the lesser known dishes of Sikkim and therefore one that is really unique stems from an ingredient also as exotic- the pretty flowery beauties that we rave about as the orchids. For a state known as the Land of Orchids and even priding in the particular variety of the Royal orchid as its official flower, it isn’t very surprising though that Sikkim should further this fancy also along its trail of the epicurean. And thus there exists this dish made from the edible varieties of the flower of course that happen also to be very seasonal which is why the lesser luck with their exploration outside the locals. Known as Barhey is this mostly pickled variant of the flower that is savoured with rice as one of the most authentic of the Sikkimese experience in interesting eating.

Niguru with Chhurpi

Niguru with Churpi

Source: Bawarchi

So utterly relished is chhurpi in the entirety of the Sikkim scape that pairing it up with other exotically local ingredients makes for some classic fare of this state brimming with unique flavours and tastes galore. And what makes the chhurpi- ningro combination even more essential a local delicacy is its very existence as a largely traditional household preparation not yet commercially charted out by restaurants and eateries.

As rich a dish in its flavor profile and yet as humble in essence, the Chhurpi Ningro curry sees the versatile, interesting and chewy chhurpi come together with the local fiddlehead fern called the niguru or ningro to make up a dish that is a forever favorite of the people there, particularly perhaps in its comforting simplicity. Lightly fried together with the fresh greens exclusive to the Sikkim- Himalayan region or sometimes even made into a curry, this is a staple of the state that makes for a must eat for everyone in the sheer scrumptiousness of it.

Phulaurah

Every state of India necessarily makes space for at least some kind of fritter into their trail of the taste and Sikkim sure is no exception. But the uniqueness characterising the state as the world’s first fully organic entity means that even the deep fried reiteration of this favorite snack type also takes an interesting route to frit up indeed! Identifying as phulaurah are these buckwheat based fritters that though are also often made from split black gram instead.

Soaked and peeled and then ground to a paste, the gram or cereal mixture is spiced with an array of condiments and the like and mixed with water to make a thick batter out of which the fritters are made by deep frying them. Simple a snack but smacking nevertheless in the crisp and delicious assertion and that too in a different mode of entailing, hot and piping phulaurahs sound like the perfect munch on for those laze rainy evenings’ tea times.

Chhurpi soup

If chewing on and on and on the unending essence of some hard chhurpi isn’t gastronomic enough for you, then Sikkim cooks up still a more gourmet experience for one and all to savour. Shaping up as that bowl of utter comfort in all soupy prominence of it is this traditional dish that though is no less unique an offering than any of its other local counterparts.

With the essentially tempering Indian agent of the panchphoran or the five spice mix lending its own essence to this somewhat sour tasting soup, this makes for an aromatic preparation in rather softness as a soup unlike any other you would have ever tasted. Even the serving mode of this soup differs from the rest of the soupy kind, accompanied as it is often with some hot rice even though it can still be gobbled up as it is in all its refreshing taking to taste and flavours and warmth as well.

Dhan ki Kheer

If there is any dessert that gets as Indian as it can, it has to be the commonplace preparation of the rice and milk based kheer. One of the most satisfying of sweet dishes and one that is as versatile in its numerous regional adaptations and local interpretations, this very immersive indulgence of the kheer takes on its own specific recourse along the Sikkim route as the Dhan ki kheer. Made with the local rice variety called the Dhan, that presents as a plump and short grain of the Indian staple for an as ‘staple’ sweet preparation with all additional ingredients of the milk and the sugar and the cardamom and the dry fruits summing up this essential serving in exquisite richness, whether it be in the appetising aroma and taste as well as in the heady emotions characterising every spoonful of this bite in sweet heaven.

Mesu

Mesu
Source: Times Food

Special is the land that identifies itself in the immense stupor of Sikkim and no less singular as well is every element of this state that sums up the medium of subsistence beyond what it alludes to in all substance. Sikkimese cuisine sure is one of its kind and the specific preparation of the mesu substantiates this claim indeed in as straightforward a manner as possible. In being a curry made with fermented bamboo shoots and pork, the sour and acidic taste of mesu already makes it a culinary wonder worth exploring.

But what makes this dish even more different is the mode of its preparation that tends to such characterisation of the pickling sort even when it indeed is still identifying as a curry, but alternating between these two parallel lines of the cuisinal categorisation in such regularity that one might call it either without any confusion whatsoever. Despite its standing in such clarity even when seemingly ambiguous in its dual ‘accreditation’, the route to a pinch of mesu indulgence tends to be not as easily eked out. An exotic delicacy, or rather a condiment most often prepared at homes in the most traditional and ethnic way of it, non locals can claim familiarity to the curious appeal of the Sikkimese mesu only after quite some bit of (soul) searching!

Aloo Chiura

aloo chiura
Source: Elgin Hotel.

Another of the ubiquitous stemming from the street food stalls of Sikkim happens to be the much popular and as craved for preparation of the aloo chiura. Much like the chaats of north India, this too is a similar spicy preparation with the versatile ingredient of the chiura or beaten rice making for the main feature.

As the very name suggests, aloo chiura is essentially beaten rice with potatoes but in a gravy kind of preparation spiced indeed with an assortment of the staples and topped as well with any or every of the quintessential elements of the bhujia or sev, onions or chillies, chana or makai and perhaps with a dash of lemon juice as well. Appetising in its vibrant shade of a curried yellow and irresistible in the definite wafts of a peculiar Indianness emanating out of it, allo chiura continues to be the emotion of the food kind for all and sundry in Sikkim.

Temi Tea

A state so rich in its agricultural profile that has earned it the exclusivity in organic authentication, Sikkim takes pride in its steeping of the tea as well. Occurring as the namesake Sikkim Tea or more specifically Temi Tea produced as it is in the famous Temi Tea Estate, the sipping experience upon the cuppa here is not as much about the method and mode of its steeping as the variety of it.

Exclusive to the state is the Temi Tea that is known for its distinct flavor and aroma and stems as well from a setting as exquisitely vibrant in the very spectacle of it. The tea experience in Sikkim also though is unique in itself and when prepared in the most authentic manner of it makes for a brew that is instantly addictive in its powerful richness. Served also as locally in traditional tea cups and crockery, the entire Temi Tea sipping process is one of immense leisure and utter luxury though in all humble simplicity of it.