ASIAN FOOD

Tibetan food in Delhi at the restaurant Lhasa warms the heart and the body

A taste of Tibet at Delhi’s Lhasa restaurant, is just right for the cold weather

One of the nicest meals I have had was at a Tibetan restaurant called Greens in Dharamshala, when we visited some years ago.

It served only vegetarian food, and I recall a delicious platter called A Ploughman’s Lunch, a variation of the traditional hearty meal of England. This had some Tibetan soup — full of crunchy veggies — and a thick slice of Tibetan bread, the delightful taste of which I can still recall.

I have an old and warm relationship with Tibetan food. There was a time when the only place where you could get a good bowl of thukpa — a nourishing soup with all kinds of meats and vegetables — was Majnu Ka Tila in north Delhi. We were regulars there, for one could have a fulfilling meal for just a few rupees in one of the little shacks known as Tib Dhabs, or Tibetan Dhaba.

Strangely, while Delhi today offers food from across India and the world, there are not too many Tibetan eateries that one can think of. The one restaurant where I had a good Tibetan meal in the recent past was Yeti, which had a menu that included Tibetan and Nepali cuisine.

That is why I was delighted when I saw that there was an eatery called Lhasa from where I could order food. I had been thinking of all those meals at Tib Dhabs for a while, so Tibetan food was on my mind while I was surfing the Net a few days ago in search of little known restaurants. Lhasa (198/52 Ramesh Market, East of Kailash) sounded promising. It had a menu of Tibetan and Chinese dishes.

I ordered (through Swiggy; Zomato also delivers) a plate of chicken kothay — (eight pieces for ₹149), mutton shapta (₹359), pork thenthuk (₹149), double fried pork (₹219) and buff sha phaley (₹129).

The restaurant had, curiously, a packaging charge of one rupee, and I made an online payment of a total of ₹1,121.

The food arrived in plastic containers (not as well packed as some other food deliveries, I am afraid). There was enough food for two meals and three people. I started with the kothay, which was a partly steamed and partly fried dimsum stuffed with chicken.

Then I went on to the thenthuk, a bowl of flat noodles with pieces of pork and vegetables in soup. It was mildly flavoured but delicious — and I made a nice meal out of it.

The double fried pork is a favourite of mine, and I really liked their offering. The tender pork pieces had just the right balance of fat and meat, and had been well cooked with peppers.

The disappointing dish was the shapta, stir-fried lamb cooked with ginger and red chillies. The lamb was much too tough; there was some meat on the bone that truly challenged my teeth.

The best dish of all was the sha phaley, Tibetan fried bread with a meat or vegetable stuffing. There were three large pieces in our order, and the stuffing had spicy meat. I bit into one, and enjoyed the differing textures of the crispy fried bread and the soft meat within.

Lhasa rekindled old memories of Tib Dhabs. The meal, like the old times, was hearty and didn’t strain the wallet. Just the teeth, on one dish.

The writer is a seasoned food critic

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