Darjeeling has a diversified population with Lepchas, Gorkhas, Bengalis, and Tibetan living together in harmony and so is their food. The local cuisine here will definitely stimulate your taste buds with the exotic variety of food available. If you find yourself here for the first time, worry not! Here is a compiled list of must-try dishes that will give you a taste of the local Darjeeling food.
- Tibetan Food
The most popular snack amongst the locals and the tourists in Darjeeling. These are dumplings made of flour dough and stuffed with minced meat or vegetables. They are best eaten in steamed form and served with clear soup and pickle.
Thukpa is a hot noodle soup mixed with meat, egg and vegetables. This is served in a large bowl and is very low in spice. It is the second most popular Tibetan dish, which is eaten as a starter.
A deep fried flatbread stuffed with meat (mainly seasoned beef) which is served with spicy dip and soup. This is available in almost every Tibetan restaurant and can also be eaten with curry.
Kunga, Hasty Tasty and Dekevas are few restaurants serving amazing Tibetan food in Darjeeling.
- Nepali Food
This is a famous traditional Gorkha dish prepared by boiling nine varieties of sprout beans with spices to form a thick soup.
Another famous traditional Gorkha dish found in every household of Gorkhas. This is not easily available in local restaurants, take help of a local to try this out. This is prepared by fermenting green leaves like mustard, radish, cauliflower etc that has a very strong acidic smell.
This is one food that Darjeeling people can’t live without. Prepared with boiled potatoes in a thick gravy and dried red chilli powder. This can be eaten as a snack or as a side dish.
This is one of the best local food in Darjeeling. A milk-based snack prepared from cow or yak’s milk. This is like a cheese and is eaten with Niguru (fiddlehead fern).
- Bengali Food
Darjeeling being close to Siliguri has been home for Bengali immigrants for years. Therefore, Bengali cuisine is another variety that is widely available in Darjeeling due to their vast local presence. It is best to have a Bengali thali that would have every speciality in it so that you don’t miss out on any item.
- Naga Food
Apart from Nepali’s, Tibetans and Bengalis, a small population of Naga (people of Nagaland origin) too reside in Darjeeling. The best part is you can get a taste of local Naga cuisine easily. Try out the Naga platter served in the Revolver restaurant that consists of rice, fermented or dried bamboo shoots served with choice of chicken, pork or fish, ghee, pickles etc.
Tea is one thing that Darjeeling is famous for worldwide. A trip to Darjeeling stays incomplete unless you have a cup of authentic Darjeeling tea. Take the amazing cable car ride across the tea estates and taste the authentic Darjeeling tea along with a breath-taking view of the tea gardens.
You can also try out Darjeeling tea in other outlets like Nathmull's Tea & Sunset Lounge, Happy Golden Café and Café Coffee Day.
A special type of tea, salted in flavour. This is prepared with tea bags and mixed with butter to give it a unique taste. You can try this at the Tibetan restaurants.
This is a very popular local brew like a beer, prepared from millets by fermenting with yeast. Tongba is served in a bamboo made glass and is to be had with a bamboo pipe.
P.S: Do not try in large quantity, as it can be quite intoxicating.
The best place to try out Tongba is the Hot Stimulating Café.