Recipe for Comfort —Thenthuk — “Pull” Noodle Soup

Thunthuk
Thenthuk: “Pull” Noodle Soup

Thenthuk is a typical Tibetan noodle soup that keeps the nomads warm during the long Tibetan winters.

You can make it either with vegetables or meat. In Tibetan “then” means pull and “thuk” means noodles.

Generally speaking, noodle soups of all kinds are known as “thukpa,” so this recipe is a kind of thukpa.

Note that the initial cooking of the broth happens quickly, so best to have all your ingredients prepared before you start actually cooking.

If you are wondering, thenthuk is pronounced roughly like “ten” + “too” + “k,” and is sometimes written as “thentuk.”

The Dough

The dough is very important for this noodle soup. It needs to sit for fifteen or twenty minutes so that it can become flexible and easy to pull.

If you want to make thenthuk for two people, put 1 heaping cup of all-purpose flour in a pot and add about half a cup of water.

Mix the flour and water very well by hand and keep adding water until you can make a smooth ball of dough. Then knead the dough very well until the dough is flexible. You want it thick enough that it will stretch when pulled.

Separate the dough into pieces about half as big as big as your fist, and roll the dough between your hands. Make the shape like bananas, or wedges. Then put oil on your hand and roll the pieces between your hands again so they won’t stick together.

Making the dough


Put the wedges in a plastic bag or in a pot and put a lid to cover the dough so it doesn’t dry out.

Cover the dough so it doesn't dry out.
Cover the dough so it doesn’t dry out.

Now the dough is prepared and you can start the broth.

Chop half an onion, a small piece of ginger, a clove of garlic, and one small tomato. If you want to use meat, cut 1/4  or 1/2  pound of any kind of meat into thin bite-size slices. We usually use some kind of stew beef.

Fry everything in two tablespoons of oil for three or four minutes, or until the meat is cooked well. Add a pinch of chicken, beef or vegetable bouillon, a dash of salt, and few shakes of soy sauce.

Add about five cups of water to the pot.

At this time, you can add one potato or daikon, which is a Japanese radish. If you want to use the daikon, slice it thinly. After that rinse it in water with a little bit of salt. That way, the daikon won’t taste so strong. If you want to use the potato just slice it thinly and put it in the pot.

While you are cooking, chop a few stems of cilantro, two green onions, and a handful of spinach.


The Throw-Down

The dough throw down in the soup
The dough throw down in the soup

When the broth starts to boil, you can add the dough. Take a wedge of dough and roll it between your hands so it gets a little longer. Flatten it with your fingers. Then pull the dough off in little flat pieces as long as your thumb and throw them in the pot. See how fast you can pull off the noodles… (“I hear the people in Amdo can do it really fast,” says our friend Tenzin.)

When all the noodles are in the pot, cook it for an additional three or four minutes. After that, you can put in the cilantro and spinach. They don’t need to cook, really, so you can serve the soup immediately. Before you serve the thenthuk make sure that the taste is right for you, and add a little salt or soy sauce if you like.

Then sit down and enjoy your food and sweat because it really makes you warm!

Tibetan Home Cooking

Tibetan Home Cooking

Bring joy to the people you love by making your own delicious, authentic Tibetan meals

Updated on January 24, 2020. First published on November 26, 2011.

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Most people who want to go to Tibet don't know how to get there or who to trust for help. We’re Lobsang Wangdu and Yolanda O’Bannon, and we help make Tibet travel more simple, safe and ethical so you can feel peace of mind about your trip. Learn more about us and YoWangdu here.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Yolanda says

    2011-11-09 11:53

    Thank you for writing Karmu Lama 🙂

    Karmu Lama:
    Tashi Delek,
Thank you for showing in the world how to cook our culture food 🙂

    2011-10-13 09:43
    
Thanks, Kimberly!


    2011-10-13 09:35

    I have only one word…..yum!!


    2011-10-11 09:27

    Hi Mina,
    The issue is likely either that the dough has a bit too much water in it, or that it was left to “rest” a bit too long. Don’t put a bunch of oil on the dough pieces when they are resting — just a bit. Then, after it has rested, if you need to, you can add a little to your hands, not a lot, just a very light covering. Hope this helps!


    2011-10-11 06:13
    
Hello again, I just made this for dinner and had a problem with the dough for noodles being too sticky. Every time I tried to pull and throw in soup, the dough stuck to my fingers! I used a lot of oil when I put the dough away to rest, maybe too much?


    2011-10-10 14:53

    You’re welcome, Mina :-)


    2011-10-10 14:40
    
Oh thank you! Is that what it is Yerma? That helps. I will try to find the list of the other things he added to it. I know he put turmeric and some other things too.


    2011-10-02 18:06
Hi Mina,
    You probably mean what Tibetans call yerma or emma, and what is commonly called Szechuan pepper. Use very little! We use a quarter of a teaspoon or less when we cook for two, and this is plenty to give a great flavor without too much of the numbing sensation 🙂 Hope this helps.


    2011-10-02 13:17

    I had a friend make this for me but there were many spices typical of Tibet that he used. He gave me some of each. The most interestin were some small dried berries that tingled in my mouth! I wonder how much of each to add.


    2011-06-10 06:21

    I tried the thentuk and momos and it was really wonderful. My whole family really loved it. Looking forward to trying other recipes soon.


    2011-02-18 21:40
    
Thanks for your feedback, Amdo wa. Lobsang has been making thentuk for at least 20 years, but we can always learn something new. Wrapping the dough in plastic, and adding ginger are both in the recipe above. There’s a new thentuk video coming out with our upcoming Tibetan Home Cooking, so please check that out when you can and let us know what you think. If Amdo folks use anything different in terms of ingredients, that would be interesting to hear. Thanks again for your feedback — it’s nice to see Tibetans on the site.

    2011-06-10 06:21
    I tried the thentuk and momos and it was really wonderful. My whole family really loved it. Looking forward to trying other recipes soon.
     
    2011-02-18 21:40
    Thanks for your feedback, Amdo wa. Lobsang has been making thentuk for at least 20 years, but we can always learn something new. Wrapping the dough in plastic, and adding ginger are both in the recipe above. There’s a new thentuk video coming out with our upcoming Tibetan Home Cooking, so please check that out when you can and let us know what you think. If Amdo folks use anything different in terms of ingredients, that would be interesting to hear. Thanks again for your feedback — it’s nice to see Tibetans on the site.

     
    2011-02-18 18:55
    this is Lobsang seems very new hand on thenthuk to me. The best way to deal with dough is to work with dough little bit more and wrap it in plastic so it won’t dry and at same time dough will work by it self by time you get back to it.
    If you cook in restaurant then maybe you need measure dough but if you cook for family for few people, dough make into roll is not necessary.

    He forgot use ginger or he doesn’t use ginger however ginger will bring more flavor into soup.

    2010-12-05 21:51
    Thank you! 
     
    2010-12-03 20:20
    Hi Angie,
    Thukpa is used generically for noodle soup. Thentuk literally means “pull” “noodle”, so thentuk is a variation of noodle soup with the kind of noodles described here. We will be offering more types of thukpa in the coming months.

    2010-12-03 16:37
    what’s the difference between thukpa and thenthuk?
     
    2010-11-30 09:14
    Thanks so much Veronica and Walter. It’s an honor to be handed down in the personal cookbook 🙂
     
    2010-11-19 09:05
    Thenthuk is by far my absolute favorite noodle soup, especially during cold Minnesota weather! Thank you for your tips. Thenthuk is beyond amazing.

    2010-10-06 04:54
    Simply Amazing! This will be in my personal cookbook that I will hand down to my daughters. Yes folks it is that good and that easy!
    (I tried to send this before but it didn’t seem to send so sorry if I am repeating a post)

     
    2010-10-03 16:42
    So glad you liked it Matthew. Definitely try it with the cilantro — that adds a special flavor. We love to make this in the winter on a cold day — so great.

    2010-09-18 22:05
    Was pretty good. I didn’t have cilantro, and couldn’t find it at the store, so I used parsley, and it was still good. Had to add some salt and pepper though, to fit my western palate. Very easy, will make it again ! Thank you

  2. Sonam says

    Thank you so much for this receipe. I made this thenthuk last year with my sister and it came out to be really delicious and my dad enjoyed it a lot. I followed all the steps that you’ve mentioned above except for using the broth {in our case, we just used plain water}. We made both with and without meat and the results were really good. Once again, thank you for posting the methods to cook delicious Tibetan foods.

    ~Sonam

    • yowangdu says

      We’re so happy to hear you and your family enjoyed the thenthuk, Sonam la! This recipe is definitely one of our winter staples 🙂 Let us know if there is any other particular recipe you would like to see.

  3. gemma says

    a truly delicious recipe. i was nervous making the dough however i also watched your video and it is as simple as you make it look. Thank you for bringing a wonderful dish into our home. xxx

  4. Garu Aniel Sonam says

    I went to the market and bought all the ingredients for making Thenthuk last night. It was Wonderful and very easy to make. I followed your directions and two of us savored a delicious meal. In Fact, I am making it again tonight. It brought a rosy hue to my partners face…. I think it was the ginger.. Thank you so much. I am also very upset with the Chinese Government about what they are doing to destroy the Tibetan
    Culture and how they are destroying so much of a Beautiful Country. Namaste…. Garu

  5. Bodhi says

    We made this tonight with gluten free flours – we used a mix of tapioca flour, rice flour and potato starch. It turned out perfectly. I’ve never seen my husband so excited about soup before! Thank you so much for this recipe – it warmed our souls and our bodies. Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

    • yowangdu says

      This is so great to hear, Bodhi! Thank you! We will add your note as an update on the thenthuk page for other folks who like or need gluten-free 🙂

        • yowangdu says

          Hi Colin, We had to turn off the saving functionality on the website because so many sites were “borrowing” our content without credit. We’ll send a copy to your email for printing 🙂

  6. Thutti says

    Tashi Delek Sir!

    Ive been looking for a good recipe for those noodles and finally found one at your place – so far, thank you 🙂 Id love to try making this soup as often as possible in the future, wondering if you could send a copy of it for me to print out as well? Also, I have subscribed to your site, but cannot possibly find the right video to this recipe.
    Tu jie jie in advance and please keep going, also with Buddhism 🙂
    Many wishes and sincerely yours,

    Thutti

  7. Mangalore Cafe says

    Tashi Delek sir,

    I wanted to clear a doubt.
    As you say Thuk means noodles. I always thought Thukpa means noodle and beef soup. Pa translates to Beef.
    Please confirm this.
    Been to a new multicuisine restaurant they had Thukpa in the Soup section. I was so happy cause I would be having this after many years.(never got the time to make your recipe, but I will be making it tommorow That is why I am here 🙂 )
    Instead they served fried noodles with a soup which was similar to Manchow soup.
    Then the hotel argued that Thukpa means noodles. So We are serving Noodles(fried ) with the soup.
    They are saying there is not had and fast rule that Thukpa should be the kind of boiled noodles inside the soup(as I have always known it to be).
    SO though I would confirm with the master in Tibetan cuisine himself before I go back there.
    Thank you
    Thuk je che

    • yowangdu says

      One part of your question is easy to answer, and the other is a little more complicated. Basically, thukpa is an all-purpose word that refers to a wide range of both noodle soups and porridges. For example, there is thenthuk, thukpa barthuk, thukpa gyathuk, and thukpa tsamthuk, among others. Thukpa tsamthuk is a porridge made from tsampa with a little meat, and not noodles. There are other thukpas like the tsamthuk, which have no noodles. But generally speaking when someone says they are having thukpa, we think of a noodle soup, with the noodles cooked inside the soup, as you say. The part of the word “Pa” does not mean meat or beef. It’s just part of the word thukpa. Sorry if we misled you before saying “thuk” means noodles. That is the case in Thenthuk when the thuk part means noodles and the then part means pull, but not always. If the restaurant served fried noodles and then soup separately on the side, we would not consider that thukpa. If the fried noodles were inside the soup, then you could call it thukpa. Hope this helps.

  8. Dechen Tenzin says

    Tashi Delek Wangdu la,

    I tried my first thenthuk with your recipe and it turned out to be very delicious. Me and my cousin, we finished the whole pot of thenthuk! I look forward to more of your recipes. 🙂 Thank you!

  9. Asifur Rahman says

    Thank you very much for amazing content. I was and still am a big fan of traditional Tibetean food. Though people don’t know much about Tibetean food and culture, this website has helped me to bring Tibetean food amongst my family and colleagues. And I must say that everyone relishes and appreciates
    the simple yet delicious food of the Tibetean.

  10. tsering nosdup says

    jullay/tashi delek

    im nosdup from leh ladakh. and thenthuk is one of my fav. i usually go to restaurant for thenthuk coz i don’t knw how to cook. but last night i prepared thenthuk as per ur recipe. belive me it was too delicious. i didnt use testing powder(aginamoto what ever) but still its good. bcoz in Leh restaurant they use testing powder which is not good for health.. i would like to thank u for sharing this recipe of urs. thukjay chay

  11. Celeste T. says

    This is so wonderful! I enjoy learning about these traditions! Reading about this soup makes me WANT it…

  12. Khushi says

    Juley Yowangdu ,

    This is Khushi from Mumbai . My sister is married to a ladakhi and that’s how i got to taste these yummy dishes . Thenthuk being my favourite. Could you please help me with an all veg version of the same ? I am a vegetarian, so I thought I’ll ask you for the same . Looking forward to here from you soon . ♥️

  13. Elaine Gloeckle says

    I asked my husband to “pick a country, any country” and I’d search for dinner recipes. He picked Tibet, thinking he’d stump me. I found this recipe and made it… it is wonderful! Thank you, I will make this again!

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