Tingmo : Tibetan Steamed Bread

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“They are so cute!”

“I want to adopt one when I grow up! “

This was my first encounter with Tibet.  My sister and me were watching  young Tibetan monks on TV. There they were, hardly four or five years old, sitting in neat lines, their shaved heads moving back and forth over prayer books.  It really was an endearing sight. The show was perhaps filmed in a monastery in Dharmashala, the seat of  the His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  For a very long time this was the only image of Tibet in my mind. Of young monks, wrapped in maroon robes, running around in a monastery,of them praying before serene statues of Buddha . My idea of Tibet was therefore condensed into this image of the monastery. It was an image without any voice, so to speak. The only voice was that of a faceless narrator providing a voice-over. It was almost like listening to Nik Gowing on BBC World.

Since then my idea of this nation in exile has diversified into a few more images. Of those “TIBET IS NOT A PART OF CHINA” written on rocks near the riverbeds in Manali, of women in chuba  selling woolen clothes on makeshift stalls in some obscure town in Orissa, of colourful prayer flags tied like totem across bridges, of Siddharth Kak drinking salty Tibetan tea on Surabhi , of the Dalai Lama, of Ladakh, of  Nawang Khechog creating hauntingly beautiful music on a spring night in Delhi. And of agitations.  Of refugee settlements. And yes,  of Richard Gere.  

My first “taste” of Tibet came in the form of a plate of chicken momos. This was perhaps my first meal in a restaurant in Delhi. This is perhaps the first, and perhaps the only encounter with the food of Tibet for a majority of students who study in the universities of Delhi. My next encounter was in Majnu Ka Tila, a refugee colony popularly called MKT on the fringes of Delhi University.  Its narrow lanes are dotted with shops selling Tibetan groceries, of karigars  crafting elaborate jewellery, of quaint shops selling books and tshirts, their racks lined with CDs of Tibetan music and prayer flags.  And then there are hair dressers and tailors.  And shops filled with rolls of rich brocade. And cafes and restaurants filled with people . Enough maybe to make a displaced nation feel at home.

Tee Dee is perhaps the most popular restaurant at MKT.   It is perched (atleast it seems so once you enter) on the first floor of a building towards one end of the colony. The whole arrangement at Tee Dee makes you feel like you are in some hilly town, and not in Delhi.  Maybe its the demographic, of students and Tibetans, that fill its tables at all hours of the day. Maybe its those red curtains. My first meal there was a bowl of Thenthuk  (a noodle soup with vegetables and meat/chicken) more commonly known as Thukpa. At 40 rupees it was one of the cheapest dinners one could have while eating out.  The other popular dish (and probably the most ordered by students) is Buff Chilli. This is had with Tingmo, a yeasty steamed bread. The slight sweetness of Tingmo perfectly complements the heat of the Buff Chilli and is great accessory to pick of pieces of the meat. I don’t really eat red meat, so I generally order their style of Chilli Chicken to go with it. Yeti, at Hauz Khas Village does a great Nepali style Chilli Chicken that really goes well with Tingmo (recipe for this in the next post).

I have used the list of ingredients mentioned here for making Tingmo, since these are essentially steamed buns.

Ingredients

Active dry yeast : 1 tablespoon

Sugar : 2 spoons

Warm water : 1/4 + 1/2 cups

All-purpose flour : 1 1/2 cups

 Salt : 2-3 pinches

 Sugar: 2 tablespoon

 Oil  : 1 tablespoon

 Baking powder : 1/2 tablespoon

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19 thoughts on “Tingmo : Tibetan Steamed Bread

  1. Personal Concerns

    Lovely post once again MTJC!

    Two things I would like to think with you about :

    1. What is the essential difference (if there is) between Chinese and Tibetan cuisine? We at Hansraj Hostel always referred to the restaurants in Kamla Nagar as “Chinese” restaturants. The difference to me between Chinese and Tibetan food is not clear and I don’t even know if that is a valid question to ask.

    2. Apart from the fact that MKT is a refugee colony, why is it that the famous Chinese restaurant street in KNags does not offer as many varieties of dishes as MKT does? Could it be because of the nature of the clientele in the mainland of the University?

    Besides that, I was very interested in the nomenclature of the colony- “Majnun Ka Tila”. It has always fascinated me and have never thought about its history. May be we can do some research on this aspect of the place. We never know we will end up finding a Laila Ki Ghaati somewhere in Delhi too!

    Reply
    1. More Than Just Curry Post author

      Thanks PC!

      I am not sure I am the best person to answer your questions, since I have not really delved into the intricacies of these two cuisines. So I will try to answer on the basis of my very limited knowledge of food from these two regions. China is a vast country. Tibet is very small nation. So there are many regional variations in Chinese cooking. For example Szechuan cuisine, which originates from Sichuan province is known to be spicy and uses the very potent szechuan chillies/pepper in its dishes. Cantonese cuisine which originates from Guangdong , which was a trading port has a lot of sea food, and is much milder. Then there are all these different sauces, garnishes, flavoured oils, and even different cooking techniques that the different regional styles employ. Again, there are only some places that wheat is grown in China. So you will find noodles feature in the cuisine of these areas. Further, while Han Chinese constitute about 90% of the population, the rest is comprised of other ethnic groups. So there are even more variations!

      The cuisine of Tibet meanwhile is not as varied. Here one must take into account its geographical location, and concomitantly its climate, which does not let anything other than the hardiest of plants to survive. The cuisine is therefore based entirely of wheat/barley products and meat, since vegetables are very hard to grow. You will also find a lot of dry/preserved meat like sausages. The cuisine on account of the availability of only a few ingredients is not complex like Chinese cuisine is.

      Reply
  2. Nitesh Raj

    I just had tingmo at MKT three days ago for the first time and have been in love with it ever since. I stumbled on your blog while googling “What to have with Tingmo”. I’m gonna try pork chilli next time :)

    Although I choose Ama over TeeDee as my choiceof restaurant, I love how you described it. :)

    Reply
      1. Nitesh Raj

        Its perhaps the authenticity, the ambiance & the inexpensive food that wins my heart there :) To be honest, ‘chinese’ food anywhere else simply doesn’t cut it anymore :D

        If you have a Delhi food group or something, please do let me know. I’m keen on discovering more places like this

  3. More Than Just Curry Post author

    You read my mind there!
    You can check out Food Enthusiasts of Delhi (FED/eatlo) and Indian Food Freak on Facebook. They used to have food walks for members when the numbers were small. IFF also has a closed members only Facebook group. There are also others that conduct food walks, the most popular ones focusing on Chandni Chowk/Jama Masjid areas.

    Hope this helps!

    Reply
    1. Nitesh Raj

      Hahahaha I have been following Eatlo for a while :) I sent a join request to IFF. Whoa, they sure have loads of members. Inspired by your post, I went to MKT and ordered a 5 tingmo breads with spicy fried pork. I didn’t need to eat for the rest of the day :D Looking forward to more awesome posts from you

      Reply

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