Tsampa, the most uniquely Tibetan of all Tibetan foods, is a hearty, nutty-tasting flour made from roasted barley. The most common way to eat tsampa is to mix it by hand with butter tea, dried dri (the female of the yak species) cheese and sometimes sugar, to form a dough. In this form it is called, simply, pa, and for many Tibetans in the past, pa was eaten three times a day, every day. Today, it is less common to find those who eat only pa, but it is still a common food in Central Tibet, and for travelers, who bring a leather pouch for mixing the ingredients on the road.
If you would like to explore and share the wonderfully comforting, unusual flavors of traditional Tibetan food, please see our Tibetan Home Cooking eBook and video series for detailed written recipes and step-by-step videos showing you exactly how to cook almost every classic Tibetan food, including pa. This series focuses exclusively on authentic recipes that are commonly cooked in Tibetan homes, and includes the most beloved dishes that have been passed down in Tibetan families for hundreds of years.
Also, when you sign up for our Tibetan culture newsletter in the box below, one of the bonus video recipes you receive will be Lobsang showing you how to make pa.
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By Lobsang Wangdu and Yolanda O’Bannon