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Tsampa is a kind of roasted flour usually barley flour consumed in combination with the Tibetan butter tea. The flour used for preparing the tsampa varies greatly with wheat flour or rice flour being substituted freely.

The tsampa is considered to be the staple food of Tibet, often known as its National food too. It forms a substantial part of the Tibetan diet and bears cultural significance as well. The tradition of throwing pinches of tsampa into the air on all Buddhist rituals highlights the importance of the dish in Tibetan life.

History Of The Tsampa Recipe

Tsampa, as a dish is thousands of years old. It is considered to be the holy food by the Tibetan lamas(monks). The lamas are believed to have sustained themselves only on the aroma of the tsampa during their periods of meditation.

The scattering of the holy food during the Buddhist festivals, funerals and New Year celebrations make it the most important food of the Tibetan region.

The noted conqueror Genghis Khan is rumored to have carried the food for his army during his long marches along the mountainous terrains.

Ingredients And Popular Tsampa Recipe

A god amount of roasted barley flour along with tea, milk or water is enough to prepare the dish according to the traditional tsampa recipe.

The basic method of preparation involves boiling the water or milk and adding butter to it in order to give it an oily look. The flour is added gently to the liquid and kneaded thoroughly until it results in a smooth and uniform dough.

It can be eaten with salt or sugar depending on the taste of the individual. The traditional Tibetan tsampa was prepared with salt tea and yak butter.

Variations Of The Tsampa Recipe

  • Porridge- Eaten as a thick porridge for breakfast
  • Pies- A flat piece of prepared by mixing the flour with butter.
  • Congee- Prepared by combining the flour with cheese powder, sugar and melted butter.
  • Balls- Fashioned into dry balls that can be carried along on journeys.
  • Vegan Version- Made with soy milk and margarine instead of the traditional ingredients.

Nutritive Value Of Tsampa

The dish is considered to be 100% natural and is extremely nutritious. It has proteins, carbohydrates and fat in the right quantities and can help to warm the body in extreme cold. It is also known to aid digestion, normalize cholesterol levels and strengthen the bones.


  • Tsampa was also fed to the animals in Tibet when they were unable to graze.