Taste Tibet: Family Recipes from the Himalayas, written by Julie Kleeman and Yeshi Jampa, features the incredible cuisine of the Tibetan Plateau with over 80 recipes, beautiful stories, and gorgeous photography. A few highlights include Numtak Balep (Fried Breakfast Bread), Beef Shaptak (Beef Stir-Fry), Vegetable Thenthuk (Vegetable Hand-Pulled Noodles), Shogo Momos (Spiced Potato Momos), and Khabsey (Ceremonial Cookies). I will also be sharing their recipe for Tingmo (Steamed Bread) following the review.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Interlink Books in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Julie Kleeman and Yeshi Jampa
Julie Kleeman studied Chinese at Cambridge University. While living in Beijing, she worked as the chief editor of the Oxford Chinese Dictionary.
Yeshi Jampa grew up in Tibet and met Julie after walking across the Himalayas to northern India at the age of nineteen.
Together, they run Taste Tibet, a restaurant, shop, and food stall in Oxford, UK. The restaurant was a Guardian and BBC Good Food Top Ten pick and finalist in the Best Street Food or Takeaway category in the 2021 BBC Food and Farming Awards.
Taste Tibet begins with an introduction by Julie and Yeshi. They share their story from meeting in Dharamsala, Northern India to their marriage and two young children in Oxford, UK.
For those new to Tibetan cooking, the beginner’s guide is incredibly helpful with details on notable ingredients, flavors, traditions surrounding mealtimes, how the geography has shaped the cuisine, and even notes on pronunciation.
Chapters are divided according to the following: Breakfast; Cold Dishes; Rice and Stir-Fries; Noodles, Soups, and Stews; Dumplings, Savory Pastries, and Bread; Sauces and Dips; Street Food Favorites; and Sweet Tooth.
The food photography is provided by Ola O. Smit with travel and family photography by Keiko Wong found throughout the book. Most of the recipes are accompanied by a full-page photo of the finished dish. There is also a detailed guide with step-by-step photos on wrapping and cooking momos.
Measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric. Titles are written in romanized Tibetan and/or English. Each recipe includes a headnote with background information, personal stories, yield, serving ideas, and a note if the dish is vegan or vegetarian.
Tingmo (Steamed Bread)
There is such a variety of incredible bread recipes in Taste Tibet! I plan on trying many of the others throughout the book, but started with Tingmo ( ཀྲིན་མོག, Tibetan Steamed Bread).
Tingmo is quite the versatile bread. A yeast-based dough is formed into a thin sheet and rolled before cutting into individual pieces and steaming until light and fluffy. The resulting layers are perfect for soaking up a variety of meals.
There are many different ways to shape the dough. After rolling, you can simply cut out the pieces and steam until tender.
For a little more flair, press the side of a chopstick across the center of each tingmo and twist to fan out the layers before steaming.
Julie and Yeshi mention the eggs can be omitted for a vegan version (just add more water) and the sugar can as well (it simply adds a little softness to the texture).
They also state that the tingmos are a great breakfast option with melted butter and honey (so so good!). To reheat, pan-fry a few minutes on each side. This will add a bit of contrast with a crisp texture on the outside compared to the fluffy interior.
This recipe uses self-rising flour as the base for the Tingmo. If you do not have self-rising flour, you can make your own at home. For 1 cup (125 grams) of low protein or all-purpose flour, stir in 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
I also made Su-Cha (Butter Tea), Smacked Cucumber, Tibetan Meatball Soup, and Chocolate Momos.
Su-Cha (Butter Tea) is the very first recipe in the book. Tea is simmered, then blended with salt, butter, and milk to create a smooth and creamy drink. The combination of milk and butter is used to help replicate the flavor of yak butter.
The Smacked Cucumber is a perfect option for picnics, especially alongside yogurt. It is also incredibly easy. A cucumber is peeled and smacked with a rolling pin, then tossed in a savory combination of garlic, sesame oil, vinegar, and soy sauce.
The Tibetan Meatball Soup is another fairly easy and comforting recipe. Ground beef is seasoned with red onion, garlic, yerma (Sichuan peppercorns), and coriander, then formed into small balls. They are simmered in water until cooked through and tender before serving with spinach and cilantro.
When I first received this book, both kids were immediately drawn to the Chocolate Momos in the Sweet Tooth Chapter. Yeshi created this unique recipe for “just a bit of fun” and they definitely were! A chocolate-based dough is filled with rich chocolate mixture and steamed until set. They were especially perfect for pairing with yogurt.
Taste Tibet is a great pick for those interested in the cuisine of Tibet. The recipes have been inspired by Yeshi’s family from a rural part of eastern Tibet along with his time in India and the west. Dishes range from quick and easy drinks and sides to more intricate dumplings, breads, and noodles with plenty of opportunities for working with dough.
Many of the ingredients are available in larger American grocery stores. A few items that may require further searching include cardamom pods, buckwheat flour, Chinkiang black vinegar, Sichuan peppercorns, pork belly, dark soy sauce, glass noodles, golden raisins, garlic chives, star anise, curry leaves, and more.
Tingmo (Steamed Bread) Recipe
Excerpt from Taste Tibet
Tingmo (Tibetan Steamed Bread)
- 3 3/4 cups (450 grams) self-rising flour plus extra for dusting
- 1 1/4 teaspoons dried yeast
- 2 teaspoons olive oil plus extra for drizzling
- 1 1/4 teaspoons sugar optional
- 2 eggs optional
- 2/3 cup (150 milliliters) warm water
- Measure out the flour into a mixing bowl and add the yeast, olive oil, and sugar (if using).
- Break the eggs– or, if you're not using them, just add a scant 1/2 cup (100 milliliters) of warm water instead– and, while mixing with your dominant hand, gradually pour in 2/3 cup (150 milliliters) of warm water with the other hand.
- Knead the dough in the bowl until it forms a smooth ball. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes, lightly kneading the dough halfway through.
- When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a work surface and knead with both hands until smooth, then roll into a ball.
- Divide the dough into three equal pieces, returning two of them to the bowl and keeping them covered.
- Using a rolling pin, roll out the other piece on a flour-dusted work surface, turning it one way and then the other. You want it to be about 1/16 inch (2 millimeters) thick and 12-16 inches (30-40 centimeters) across.
- Drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil over the center of the dough and gently flap the edges into and then out of the center several times, so that all parts of the dough make contact with the oil.
- Starting from one side, roll up the dough– you should end up with what looks like a large, rolled-up pancake.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the roll of dough on the diagonal into 2 inch (5 centimeter) slices.
- The tingmo pieces can be placed directly into the steamer in this form, but if you would like the shape them decoratively, now is the time to do it.
- Use the side of a chopstick to press firmly into the center of each tingmo, fanning its layers up on either side, then gently twist the tingmo and pull the chopstick out, giving the tingmo a flower-like shape.
- Repeat the rolling, cutting, and shaping process with the two remaining pieces of dough.
- If you are using a bamboo steamer, line each basket with parchment paper. If you are using a metal steamer, drizzle a little oil onto your hands and lightly oil the inside of the steamer basket.
- Place the tingmos in the steamer baskets, leaving a 1 inch (2.5 centimeter) gap between each one. (If you are working with just one steamer basket, you will need to steam them in several batches).
- Pour about 6 1/4 cups (1.5 liters) of water into the base of your steamer (or a wok, if using bamboo steamer baskets) and bring to a boil; the tingmos can stand in the steamer while it heats up.
- When the water starts to boil, steam the tingmos for 10-12 minutes, then carefully remove and serve hot.