Darjeeling is a hill town located at an altitude of 6,710 ft above the sea level in North Eastern part of India and is part of the state of West Bengal. A must visit the “Queen of Hills” will make you fall in love. Darjeeling is a remarkable place for its panoramic beauty and attracts visitors with its rambling stretch of green set against the white of majestic snow-capped mountains. Very famous among the honeymooners’ fascination and backpackers delight. So these specialized restaurants serve different types of food and attract tourists as what they want to have. As like this you can add more dimension to your trip to Darjeeling food and local cuisine. So unexpectedly, the local cuisine and beverages in Darjeeling have a reflection of diversity.
To make the trip spicier for the tourists’ many new restaurants have come up to cater to the needs of every tourist. Caters have come up mainly from West Bengal and different parts of India. Darjeeling has a varied mix of culture, ethnic and local food here also has a lot of diversity. The original residents of Darjeeling were Lepchas who also exist; the majority is Gorkhas who are Nepali immigrants. There are noteworthy Tibetan immigrants, Sherpas, and also Bengalis who have migrated from the Siliguri subdivision of lower plains.
Here is the list of 10 Local Cuisines of Darjeeling:
The first and foremost loved the food here in Darjeeling and very popular among the people are momos which belongs to the Tibetan origin. These momos are actually called dumplings made of dough flour and stuffed with either meat or vegetables. The non-veg momos have either chicken, mutton or pork stuffings and the veggie ones have cabbage, onion, cheese, and other vegetables, mostly served as steamed or fried. The most popular are the steamed ones, served (usually 6-8 pieces) with achar (pickle) and soup.
Momos are readily available in every corner of Darjeeling. But the favorite place to have is a small budget restaurant i.e. Kunga restaurant situated on Gandhi road. Served by a Tibetan family and specializes in Tibetan food. The specialty of this restaurant is they serve momos in a hot noodle soup and this dish is known as Chicken Wangton Soup. Others are Dekevas located just adjacent to Kunga Restaurant. If you are a vegetarian you will get in Hot Stimulating cafe and Hasty Tasty on Nehru Road.
Thukpa is Another Tibetan food which is very popular among the people here. It is basically a hot noodle soup served with meat, vegetables, noodles, and eggs in a large bowl. For an average eater, Thukpa is enough to fill up the stomach. Thukpas are served in many places in Darjeeling. But the favorite is the small budget restaurants Dekevas and Kunga.
People in Darjeeling just can’t live without Aloo Dum and if you ask you will see the smile on the face. Aloo Dum is famous among both Bengali and Nepali snack. It is prepared by boiling potatoes in thick gravy and mixing dried red chili powder in it along with onion slices, few cloves of garlic, some mustard oil and sometimes even red color. To make it tempting it’s served with potato Bhujia and Wafers.
Traditional Nepali Thali
Almost resembling the Bengali thali, the Nepali Thali consists of a full meal served on a plate that includes – dal (lentil soup), boiled rice (bhaat), tarkari (mixed seasonal vegetables), achaar (pickles) or chutney, papad, curd and a sweet. You can complement this with chicken or meat curry. These dishes are almost similar to conventional Bengali meal.
Shapley is Tibetan name given to bread which is stuffed in meat. You will get this in almost all the Tibetan restaurants. You will love having this with chutney with vegetables or curry. But a popular accompaniment to Shapley is tsampa (roasted barley) and served with cheese or butter.
Naga Cuisine or Thali
Bona fide Naga dishes is almost found everywhere in Darjeeling as there is a small number of Naga settled who have bought the flavors of their land. You will find a small number of restaurants here who serves Naga Thali, it consists of rice, dried or fermented bamboo shoots, served with an option of chicken, fish or pork, pickles, a side of Ghee (clarified butter) and pickles. Make a note fermented bamboo shoots have typical flavor and odour if you really want to try out the dried bamboo shoots instead.
This is typically Nepali item prepared at home just like the Sael rotis. You won’t get this item in any restaurant just you have to make a local friend to try this out. It’s prepared for flavor and typical strong smell. Leaves of plants like mustard, radish, cauliflower etc are left for fermenting (Dry) over one or two days.
Kakra ko Achar and Kinema
The essential of people in Darjeeling includes pickles, considered as the favorite among the Nepali people. You can translate Achar as a pickle. Kakra Ko Achar is prepared of julienne cucumbers and can be taken as a salad or pickle. Ingredients used include long stripes of cucumber pieces, sesame seeds, garlic, green chili, salt etc. Kinema, on the other hand, is prepared using fermented Soybeans.
You will find many Bengalis who have settled in Darjeeling and tourist keep visiting from Kolkata and Siliguri. You will find many restaurants serving Bengali food in Darjeeling. If you want to be specific you can contact Experience Bengal Homestays for the Bengali restaurants.
You won’t generally get this item of Nepali origin in restaurants. But if you mix or get friendly with a local, ask him or her to invite you for Sael Rotis. These are basically prepared at local homes during private functions or parties. These are rotis (flat round bread) made from rice paste and then fried deeply. Tastes quite good but you should have it with butter, cheese or chutney.
Before you start chalking out a vacation plan to such beautiful places, don’t forget to at least spend a day in Darjeeling Homestays to make sure your travel diary is made worth to cherish for the lifetime. They also stretch their roots to Kalimpong, Latpanchar, Rikisum, Rangaroon, Mirik and many more.