On a cool afternoon, when the sun seems to shine just right, there is a high chance that you will end up craving something delicious. You would want something spicy, yet savory. Something cool yet a dish that would warm you up from the inside. And that’s exactly what Laphing is.
A popular Tibetan street dish, Laphing is spicy in flavor and slippery in texture and usually eaten with soy sauce. Actually a Sichuan cuisine, the dish originally known as Liang Fen in Chinese, translates literally to cold noodles. The cold jelly noodles are made out of either potato starch or green mung bean daal and are silkier in texture compared to the chewy and floury texture of its Sichuan/North Chinese counterpart. The soup is also different in Tibetan style, which migrated to the southern neighbor of Nepal via the northern territory with help of Tibetan refugees and immigrants residing in Boudha.
The noodle for the dish is prepared by boiling and stirring the starch until it reaches the right consistency. It is then poured down to cool and set into jelly sheets. The sheets are then sliced into thin strips before being dipped into a sauce from dried chilies, onions, garlic extract, a hint of Sichuan pepper, vinegar, and other spices, giving it a unique flavor with a sour taste. You can either order a dry dish, without the soup or add instant noodles or bhujiya to your laphing. You can choose the spiciness of Laphing according to your taste.
There are many reasons why Laphing is getting popular with young Nepalis these days. One, the taste buds of youngsters are always searching for new food to try. Second, Laphing, at least for few years was only available around Boudha which is a relaxing place to hang out with your friends. Three, the dish itself looks very tempting and unique, that you feel like trying it just one glance of it. But more than that, the popularity of the dish is also a symbol of how culturally rich Nepal is, with influxes of people and various ethnic groups. No matter where you are from in Nepal, your taste buds will welcome all sorts of dishes, brewing out of the corners and meeting in the melting pot we call the capital city; Kathmandu.
Although Laphing is relatively new in the culinary sector of Kathmandu, other Tibetan dishes like Tibetan Momo, Thukpa and Thendup had already entered and gained their respective space in the food business. At the same time, Tongba, an alcoholic beverage from Tibet and butter tea, another famous Tibetan delicacy have also been popular in last few years. Similarly, Khapse has also become popular to snack on with tea.
Besides the richness in taste, Laphing and other Tibetan food are also one of the best ways to explore the alleys of Boudha and learn about the rich heritage and culture of Tibetan and Sherpa people. It is also an amazing way to learn about how food travels and develops with migration, modernization, and exposure to the world.