Monday, September 28, 2015


View of Leh from the road to Khardungla pass
The summer season in Leh, Ladakh is in full swing now with foreign nationals and Indians alike traversing the regions to soak in it's spectacular beauty and experience a journey that is unique and second to none. Whether you are traveling across Ladakh on foot, on a bicycle, on a motorcycle, by bus or taxi, there is an element of adevnture around every corner and it makes for an exciting holiday. 
Local women selling fresh greens at the Main market street
Trekking in the high altitudes for a week had dwindled our appetites and we entered Leh hoping to gorge on the warm and delicious momos and Thukpas (Tibetan noodle soup). The streets in the main market are were lined with local women selling fresh greens and vegetables from their gardens to a range of dry fruits, nuts and dried herbs. There is a wide variety of restaurants to choose from and one can be overwhelmed by trying to pick the right place for a meal. Wood-fired pizzas, bakeries serving leavened bread in its multiple forms and Tibetan cuisine are the most popular among travelers in Leh. 
Wood-fired pizza at Bon Appetit
Most restaurants offer a wide range of teas on their menu. Travelers arriving in Leh from lower altitudes are recommended to sip on a lot of tea as it aids in the acclimatisation process. Honey-Ginger-Lemon tea is the most favoured whereas my personal favourite was the peppermint tea. The Open Hand Cafe on Library road is a great place to start your day with a cup of freshly brewed coffee or a cup of tea. They have an extensive breakfast menu and also prepare packed lunches for road trips. The staff here are warm and friendly and my friends took a special liking to the outdoor courtyard seating area at this cafe.
Sabagleb stuffed with chicken filling at the Tibetan Kitchen
One must try the traditional Tibetan dishes during their stay in Leh. Chopsticks Noodle Bar on Fort Road serves good momos, thukpas and tasty Chinese dishes. The Tibetan Kitchen, off Fort Road came recommended for authentic Tibetan dishes by our trek guide. We had to wait for half an hour to get a table for dinner when we visited, which in itself speaks volumes of the food served here. Sabagleb (Tibetan bread stuffed with a filling of choice) and Mutton Shepta (mutton stir fried with onion, capsicum and glass noodles) were delicious at the Tibetan Kitchen. The following day, we dined at the Summer Harvest Restaurant, also on Fort Road to taste a few more Tibetan delicacies. The traditional Tibetan steamed bread, Tingmo and the Aloo Phing Veg (stir fried vegetables with galss noodles) was a perfect combination. The Kashmiri dishes like Rishta and Goshtaba along with naans are also worth trying here. 
Aloo Phing at the Summer Harvest Restaurant
Almost every street in leh has a German bakery or two. These bakeries typically sell cookies, croissants, cinnamon rolls, brownies and doughnuts along with coffee and tea. The All-day Breakfast Cafe, Yama Cafe and the English bakery on Changspa road have a relaxed vibe and one can spend hours reading a book or planning an itinerary for the rest of the trip. My friends and I picked Bon Appetit Restaurant, off Changspa road for our celebratory dinner after completing a strenuous trek. It has a scenic setting overlooking the valley and a limited but delectable menu. The salads, pizzas and Khow suey were memorable and we left the restaurant with full bellies and happy smiles on our faces.
No trip is complete for me unless I shop for food souvenirs to bring back home and share with my family. Ladags Apricot Store at Zangsti, Leh is the perfect destination for food souvenirs. The shelves are laden with apricot jams, dried apricots, semi-dried apricots, Himalayan salt, honey, organic herbal teas and dry fruit bars. Yak cheese from one of the bakeries will put a smile on the faces of the young and the old alike back home. Now that I am back after my trip, I look forward to sipping on herbal tea from Leh and reminisce about my days in Ladakh among the majestic mountains... 

The above writeup got published in The Hindu Metroplus. Use the following link for more: