As part of a series walking you through some of the traditions of Losar, Tibetan New Year, we are offering here a recipe for a simple type of khapse.
If you travel to Tibet any time around Losar, you will no doubt see a lot of khapse!
See our Losar guide for celebrating Tibetan New Year >>
Khapse (or khapsey) is a beloved, deep-fried pastry eaten and offered most commonly at Losar, but also sometimes on other special occasions, like Tibetan weddings. There are a whole bunch of different kinds of khapse – from huge ones in the shape of a donkey ear (bhungu amchoe) that are placed as offerings on Losar shrines, to the large braids of mukdung, to the crispy circles of bulug, to the various little shapes of kaptog that are made only for eating, and down even to no-name little bite-sized diamonds of fried dough.
There are sweet and (slightly) salty khapse, and some khapses made in the shape of lotus flowers, or with ribbons of color threading through the twists.
In this post, Lobsang shows you his recipe for the most humble, common, and easy-to-make khapse shape – which is a nyapsha shape of kaptog or shaytog (honorific). (There is also a larger nyapsha khapse that is used more for a Losar shrine decoration.) In the coming months, as Losar approaches, a lot of our neighbors will be making much more elaborate khapse and we plan to bring you a few videos of some of the real masters at work.
For a fun and highly informative discussion of khapse, you should see the excellent piece written by Tibetan writer Jamyang Norbu called Dipping a Donkey Ear in Butter Tea: A Connoisseur’s Guide to the Preparation, Display and Appreciation of the Losar Khapsay.
Video: How to Make Khapse
*Please be very careful when cooking khapse. The hot oil is extremely dangerous and you don’t want it to splash on you. Make sure any utensils you put into the oil are free of water, as the water will pop in the hot oil.*
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sunflower oil (or any cooking oil. For softer khapse, use a little more oil.)
- 1/3 cup sugar (more sugar if you like sweeter pastries. We used turbinado raw cane sugar. Or, you can make sugar-free khapse by leaving the sugar out.)
- 1 cup milk, or “1/2 and 1/2” (Dairy product that is half milk and half cream.)
- 1 quart of sunflower oil for deep frying
- Dissolve the sugar in 1 cup of warm water
- Combine flour, oil, sugar and 1/2 and 1/2
- Mix everything together to make a smooth-ish ball of dough
- Knead the dough for several minutes
- Roll out the dough to about a 1/4 inch thickness. (When you roll it out you can put a little flour down on the rolling surface so that it won’t stick, but not much. If you put too much extra flour, it will make the dough suck up too much oil while cooking.)
- Cut the dough in strips (maybe about an inch or a little less), then cut those strips into diagonal pieces. Try to make the pieces roughly the same size, so that they can cook at the same rate. This doesn’t have to be precise, Tibetans rarely are!
- Slice a slot in the middle of each piece of dough.
- Pull one corner of the piece of dough through the slot in the middle, creating a twist. (See the video.) Pull the two ends of your nyapsha a little to even out the shape a bit.
- We do this outside on a camping stove, as the process is quite greasy and messy.
- Pour 1 quart of sunflower oil into a large, deep pot or pan.
- Heat the oil on high until it starts to smoke a tiny bit. The oil will be hot enough when you can drop one piece of dough into the oil and it pops up to the surface right away.
- Cook the bigger ones first and the smaller ones last. (We made a few larger non-nyapsha shapes too.)
- Carefully lower the khapse dough pieces into the oil. You will need to make multiple batches, and it is better if you don’t fill the pot or pan too full of dough pieces. Fewer khapses in one batch is better.
- Cook the khapse on high heat until golden brown, moving them around fairly often, and very gently, with a long-handled utensil. They cook pretty fast, in just a few minutes.
- Remove the khapse from the oil with a slotted spoon or large straining utensil, letting the oil drain over the pan. (The oil can easily splash on you at this point, so please take care.) We place the cooked khapse on paper towels to absorb as much as possible of the oil.
Eating and Storage
- You can sprinkle some powdered sugar if you like, but usually we eat these just as they are, with sweet tea or Tibetan tea.
- Store the extra khapse in an air-tight container and you can keep them quite a while, though they do of course get hard over time.
- At Losar, we often eat khapse in a dish we call changkol or koenden, which is khapse together with chang and a few other ingredients. (A post on that later.)
Tibetan Home Cooking
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what is the significance of making of Scorpio & sheep’s head in losar khapsey .
Hi, Tashi Deleg!
Happy Losar 2021!
I wonder if it would be possible to slightly edit the recipe, so that you also give the quantities of each ingredient in grams & milliliters? It is hard for European people when following a recipe which just has cups & quarts, as we don´t use those measurment here in Europe! Is all-purpose flour the same as plain flour?
Are traditional Khapse made with wheat flour or barley flour, I wonder?
It looks delicious. I have only ever tasted Khapse cooked by Tibetan people, so I am looking forward to trying to make them at home with my children next week.
Also, at the top it says “Video: How to Make Khapse” but there is no link to a video. This would be very useful, especially for the children. 🙂
One more idea, when I have had khapse & chai with Tibetan & Nepali friends at Losar in the past, the two went very well together. Maybe it would be useful to have a recipe for some traditional chai here, togther with the Khapse recipe.
Thanks, and Happy Losar! Losar Bey Tashi Deleg! 🙂
Janice Poss says
4 cups/ 0.946353 liter/804 g. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup/100.5 g sunflower oil (or any cooking oil. For softer khapse, use a little more oil.)
1/3 cup sugar/ 67 g (more sugar if you like sweeter pastries. We used turbinado raw cane sugar. Or, you can make sugar-free khapse by leaving the sugar out.)
1 cup milk/201 g, or “1/2 and 1/2” (Dairy product that is half milk and half cream.)
1 quart/ 946 g of sunflower oil for deep frying
You can find any of a number of converters online.
Lobsang and Yolanda says
Thanks so very much, Janice! How kind of you!
Lobsang and Yolanda says
Thanks very much, Janice! This is so nice of you!
Tara Gurung says
How we can keep them crispy and crunchy for long?
Great! It will be our Christmas delight.
I am Japanese and my husband is from Darjeeling.
Kids will love them.
We sponsored a small group of monks during a tour they were doing in the US. They made Kapse for our shrine as they were here during Losar. Before they started frying the cook made a scorpion out of dough and fried it first as an “offering”. Then fried the mountain of kapse!
Haha perfect! Yes, the little scorpion is a common offering. Thanks for reminding us!
Same reicipe in Lithuania!!
Yes, very interesting isn’t it? What are they called in Lithuania?
Žagarėliai (Zhagareliai) !.. 🙂
Thank you for posting such great and easy to follow recipes. Please keep posting more videos on how to make Tibetan food. I have also tried your other recipes and they came out great. Losar Tashi Delek!
Thanks so much, Kalden! It is wonderful to hear this from you 🙂
Katalin Kardos says
its so funny, we here in Hungary Budapest have the same thing
Even the shape is similar
We cook it also at this time of the year, mainly with a little sugar on top!!
But defenetly i will try Your recepy this year,when i go to the buddhist collage to celebbrate Losar i will take it as a presy to the others
Great! Let us how it turn out when you make it.
Krys Kam says
We have the same recipe in Poland called “chrust”. Same looks, same method of frying, made during the same time of year. It melts in your mouth, no chewing needed!
Absolutly brilliant! clap clap for you. 🙂
I want to thank you for the delicious biscuits. My girls liked them they are not too sweet and so they loved them. I am citing your website as my source when i blog about these biscuits in April . I hope that is okay with you.
Sure, and thanks for the nice feedback 🙂
sande waybill says
Mine did not fall apart this year – hooray! (Last time, they disintegrated)
Great — that’s big progress! Losar Tashi Delek Sande 🙂
The best khaptse ever! thank you for the tips, they came out delicious.
That’s great to hear, Magda!! Happy Losar to you 🙂
Thank you so much for this recipe! My husband is from Nepal, and he absolutely loved it. I made this, and we had it with Nepali tea. It is delicious. I’m a huge fan and supporter of Tibetan culture. My husband and I attend many of the Tibetan celebrations and festivals whenever we can. Thanks so much. I look forward to trying your other recipes.
Thanks so much LaToya! We’re so happy to hear this 🙂
Thanks for the recipe. I am definitely going to try it.
Lorenzo Hadley says
Thanks a lot for the recipe! I’m a freshman in high school and am using the recipe for khapse as part of my business class project, called Trinkets for Tibet. Don’t worry, I cited you on my website, which is still under construction. I’m also making “Free Tibet” bracelets to sell, and all of my profits are going to the Free Tibet organization.
Thanks again for making the world a better place through food and friendship,
You are so welcome, Lorenzo! It’s great that you are using your skills to help Tibet 🙂 All the best to you.
Although I am not Tibetan, I had the good fortune to attend a Losar celebration with a Tibetan friend and was inspired to make khapse. Thanks to your recipe (I made only half a batch), my khapse turned out well. I was so proud of them, I even took a picture!
Ulf Baungaard says
In Denmark people make them identically, even the shape, the only difference is there you put in some grated lemon peel, try it, it is deliciuos.
Thanks for letting us know, Ulf. We have found (and tried) also a Polish version (but with eggs, vanilla and sour cream) called, we think, kurshiki 🙂
Hej. No kurshniki but faworki or chrusty. 🙂 And in Poland we exactly make the same shape as khapse:)