Tibetan Vegetarian Dishes

Surprise your family and friends with these Tibetan vegetarian recipes, including the Dalai Lama’s Momos! We’ve a tasty list of traditional vegetable-based recipes from Tibet;

The Dalai Lama’s Momos


These momos, or dumplings, are a traditional Tibetan favorite. This recipe comes from Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.


For the Filling

  • 1 pound potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 onions, chopped
  • 12 ounces mushrooms, chopped
  • 12 ounces grated cheese*
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
  • Pinch of paprika Salt and pepper, to taste *Consider substituting parmesan, asiago, or Sonoma dry jack for yak cheese
    For the Dough
  • 1 pound plain flour
  • 1-3/4 to 2-1/3 cups water?
    For the Soup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1-3/4 cups boiling water


To make the filling, boil and mash the potatoes. Leave to cool. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and cook the onions for 5 minutes until soft. Add the mushrooms, cover, and cook for 5 minutes or until soft. Leave to cool. When all the vegetables are cooled, mix with the grated cheese, chopped coriander, salt, and pepper

To make the dough, mix the flour with enough water to form a smooth dough.** Roll out, but not too thinly. Cut into rounds with a 2″ pastry cutter. Taking each round, press the edges with your thumb and first two fingers, working around the circle.*** On one side of the round, place a tablespoonful of the cooled vegetable misture, then fold over and press the edges together, making sure they are well sealed. Alternatively, hold the round in one hand, and with your thumb and forefinger gather the edges into a pleat at the top and seal.

Fill a small steamer with water, first boiling the rack so the dumplings do not stick.**** Bring the water to a boil. Place the momos on the steamer rack, spacing them well apart as they will expand and stick together if they are too close. Steam for 20 minutes, or until they are firm and glossy. To make the soup, heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the onion, and cook till soft. Add the tomatoes and chopped coriander and cook for 5 minutes. Dissolve the stock cube in the boiling water and add to the pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve in small bowls as an accompaniment to the dumplings.
“***** **I briefly knead the dough until it is smooth.?
*** Doing this makes the edges a little thinner than the center so that when you fold the edges together and pleat them, they’re not too thick and your momos will cook evenly.
****If you don’t have a metal steamer, a bamboo steamer sprayed with vegetable oil spray works well. Momo can also be fried on each side until they are golden brown.
*****In addition to the soup, you might want to try a Kathmandu-style momo dipping mixture of soy sauce combined with a little rice vinegar and chili-garlic sauce.?

Tibetan Noodle Stew

Serves 4


  • 2 cups cavatelli or other thin tube-shaped pasta
  • 1 Tbs. canola oil
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 4 cups Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock
  • 3-4 Tbs. tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. hot paprika, or to taste
  • 4 cups stemmed, washed spinach leaves


1. Cook the cavatelli in 4 quarts of boiling water until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse with cold water until cool, and drain again.

2. Heat oil in a wok or large saucepan, preferably nonstick. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger and cook over medium heat until nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for about 2 minutes.

3. Stir in the stock, tamari or soy sauce, and paprika and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the stew until richly flavored and the lamb is tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the cavatelli and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in the spinach leaves and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Correct the seasoning, adding tamari or paprika to taste.

294 Calories per serving;
12 G Protein;
5 G Fat;
1 G Saturated Fat;
53 G Carbohydrate;
818 MG Sodium;
0 MG Cholesterol.

Reproduced by permission from Viking.
High Flavor Low-Fat Pasta? 1996 by Steve Raichlen

Then Thuk – Noodle Soup

Serves: 2 Preparation and Cooking time: 25 minutes


  • 1 small Onion
  • 3 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 small piece of Ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of Salt
  • 1 small piece of Mouli Spinach (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 table spoon of Soya Source
  • 2oz Plain Flour
  • 1 table spoon of Oil


Knead the plain flour into a dough using only cold water. Cover and leave for a while. Meanwhile, peel the mouli, cut it in half and slice thinly. Wash fresh spinach leaves and chop into large chunks. If frozen spinach is used defrost thoroughly. The amount used depends on presonal taste. Chop the onion, garlic and ginger. Cut the meat into strips and slice thinly.

Fry the onion, garlic and ginger in a deep sauce pan. Add the meat and soya sauce. Stir well. Add two pints of cold water and the sliced mouli. While the water is boiling, take the dough and roll it thinly into a large chapati-like shape. Cut the dough into long strips 2 inches wide. Take the strips and tear them into small pieces. Throw the pieces straight into the boiling water. Cook for 5 minutes. Lastly, add the spinach and season to taste. Simmer for a few minutes. Serve hot.?

Tukpa: Tibetan Noodle Soup

After the recipe by Betty Jung in The Kopan Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes from a Tibetan Monastery.

A traditional Tibetan dish, often served as the evening meal.

Serves 4


  • 1/4 C. butter
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 c. red onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp.?Kopan masala
  • 1 c. potato, parboiled and cubed
  • 1 c. fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 4-5 c. water
  • 1/4 lb. fresh flat egg noodles (I use 1 9-oz. plastic pkg. egg linguine)
  • 1/2 c. fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper


  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add ginger, garlic, and red onion. Stir-fry over medium to medium-high heat for l minute.
  • Add turmeric, curry powder, chili powder, and masala. Mix well and stir fry for 1/2 a minute.
  • Add potatoes and tomatoes. Stir-fry 1 more minute.
  • Add water and bring to a boil.
  • Add egg noodles and boil for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  • Add spinach and boil for another 1-2 minutes. If soup is too thick, add more water.
  • Season with soy sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Remove from heat and serve hot.

Potato Soup

Yield: 8 servings


  • 1/4 c Butter
  • 1 tb Minced ginger root
  • 1 tb Minced garlic
  • 1 c Diced red onion
  • 1/2 ts Turmeric
  • 1/2 ts Chili powder
  • 1/2 ts?Kopan Masala
  • 3 c Mashed potato
  • 4 c Water
  • 1 c Diced tofu
  • 1 c Spinach leaves,chopped
  • 1 1/2 ts White vinegar
  • 1 tb Soy sauce
  • 2 ts Salt
  • 1/2 ts Black pepper
  • 2 tb Chopped green onion
  • 2 tb Chopped cilantro


Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic and onion and stir-fry over medium to medium-high heat for 1/2 to 1 minute. Add turmeric, chili powder and masala. Stir-fry 1/2 minute longer. Add potato and mix. Cook and stir 3 minutes. Add water 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly with wire whisk to prevent lumps from forming.

Stir until mixture is smooth. Add tofu and spinach. Mix well and bring to boil. Add vinegar, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes. If soup is too thick, add water. Add green onions and cilantro and mix well. makes about 8 cups.?

Tibetan Barley Soup

recipe from Allison Taynes
“Barley can thrive even on marginal land. You can get pot barley at health food stores. If possible avoid the pearled, or polished, barley, which is less tasty and less nutritious.

Cut up enough mushrooms to measure 2 cups. Melt 2 tablespoons butter (yak butter if available) in a larg saucepan and stir in vegetables until they are well coated. Continue cooking over medium heat until softened, stirring occasionally. Mix in 1/4 cup pot barley and then add 4 cups water (preferable from the nearest mountain spring). Bring rapidly to a boil, then simmer about an hour, covered. Just before it is done, add 1 tablespoon shoyu (soy sauce) and a grind or so of pepper, if desired. When the soup is ready, it should be of a chowder-like thickness and the grains should be soft but chewy. There will be a golden sheen on the surface and the heavenly smell will waft you across the Himalayas.”?

Cold Cucumber Soup with Mint


  • 1 hard-boiled large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chilled sour cream
  • 1 chilled seedless cucumber (about 1 pound), peeled, halved lengthwise,
  • cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, washed and spun dry
  • 1/2 cup chilled well-shaken buttermilk


In a bowl with a fork mash together yolk and vinegar to form a smooth paste and stir in sour cream until smooth.

In a blender puree cucumber and mint with buttermilk and salt to taste until smooth.

Add puree to sour cream mixture in a stream, whisking.

Divide soup between 2 chilled bowls.

Potato Curry

(Serves 6)


  • 6 cups small potatoes (avoid baking [russet] potatoes as they don’t hold up well)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seed
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 4 cloves peeled garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 11/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 scant teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 dried hot peppers, left whole
  • Water as needed


Precook the potatoes in water (or in the microwave) until almost, but not quite, done. Drain thoroughly.

While the potatoes are cooking, saut the fenugreek seed in the oil on medium heat until light brown, being careful not to burn them. Add the onion and continue cooking for five minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook another five minutes. Add the spices and saut briefly to release their flavors. Add the tomato, the dried whole peppers, and a little water. Simmer until the flavors meld together.

Cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes. Gently add the potatoes, stir, and reduce heat. Cook until potatoes are tender, adding water if the sauce gets too dry. If the sauce is too runny, simply crush one of the potatoes to thicken it.

Total calories per serving: 274
Fat: 5 grams

Tibetan Vegetable Soup

Yield: 4 Servings


  • 2 tb ghee
  • 1 tb minced ginger
  • 1 tb minced garlic
  • 1/2 c onion, diced
  • 1/4 c white flour
  • 4 c water
  • 2 c mixed vegetables, chopped
  • 1/2 c chopped tomatoes
  • 1 c tofu, drained & diced
  • 1/4 c green onions, chopped
  • 1 tb tamari sauce
  • 1/4 ts black pepper


Melt ghee & stir-fry ginger, garlic & onion for 1 minute. Add flour & continue to stir fry for fro 3 to 5 minutes, till golden in colour. Add water a little at a time, whisking constantly to keep it smooth. Add vegetables, tomatoes, tofu, green onions & bring to a boil. Add the remaining ingredients. Simmer for 10 minutes. Thin with extra water if too thick. Serve hot.

Adapted from Betty Jung, “The Kopan Cookbook”?

Tibetan Roast

Serving Size : 4


  • 1 t Oil
  • 4 oz Buckwheat
  • 4 oz Onion, diced
  • 8 oz Mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 pt Red wine
  • 1/4 pt Vegetable Stock
  • 4 oz Walnuts
  • 8 oz Spinach
  • 1 t Rosemary
  • 1 t Sage
  • Salt & pepper


Preheat oven to 375F. Heat oil in a skillet & fry the buckwheat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add onions & mushrooms & cook for a few more minutes.

Pour in the wine & stock & bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer for 20 minutes. Add more stock if necessary. Grind the walnuts finely.

Wash & cook spinach without water for 6 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid & chop thoroughly. When buckwheat is cooked, remove pan from heat & let cool slightly. Stir in walnuts & spinach. Mix in the herbs & mix well. Season to taste.

Grease a 1 LB loaf tin & press in the mixture. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes till the top is dark brown & feels firm to the touch.

Let it stand for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a plate. Serve with vegetables & greens.?

Cheese soup


This exotic mixture combines hot chili with pungent blue cheese, using a spice called emma that is similar to Szechuan pepper. Chop Beef by hand or in a food processor.


  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1/4 tsp each of paprika,ground Szechuan or black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp each of minced garlic and ginger
  • 1/4 lb beef (such as top sirloin) minced
  • 1 jalapeno chili, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp blue cheese
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water


s?In large saucepan over medium-high heat, fry onion in oil until brown. Stir in paprika, pepper, garlic, and ginger. Add beef, stirring constantly. When almost cooked, add chili.

Reduce to low, add cheese stirring until melted. Add tomato and water. Stir in cornstarch mixture. Bring to a boil while stirring. Cook until mixture thickens slightly. Makes 4 servings.

String Beans with Potatoes

Make sure when you are preparing the potatoes, cut them into strips about the same size as the beans.


  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 inch pieces fresh gingerroot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno chili, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tomato, chopped
  • 1 lb green beans, cut diagonally in 1 1/2 inch strips
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 small red pepper, thinly sliced
  • Salt to taste


Wash and dry Bean sprouts thoroughly. Put on the rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. You can add more if you want it more zingy. The rice wine and sesame oil add a smokey taste to the bean sprouts. Cover and refridgerate until you’re ready to serve. Before you serve add more rice wine and sesame oil. A little salt but only before serving if you need it.

In large skillet, or wok heat oil over high heat. Add onion, garlic, paprika, and ginger. Saute 5 minutes or until onion is soft. Add potatoes, chili and tomato. Stir fry about 5 minutes until tomato is dry. Add string beans and water. Simmer, covered, over a medium high heat 12 to 15 minutes or until beans and potatoes are just tender. Stir in soy sauce, red pepper and salt. Makes 4 servings.

Corn Soup
(Ashom Tang)

Corn soup is popular in Dharamsala, served with slight variations at many of the caf?s and restaurants that cater to travelers in this colorful mountain town that is the heart of the Tibet community in exile.


  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or use oil if preferred)
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 square (12 oz.) firm tofu
  • 3 cobs fresh corn and 1 tablespoon cornstarch, or one 15-oz. can creamed corn and 1/2 cup frozen (or canned) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 green onion, chopped


Saut? the onion in butter or oil in a soup pot until brown and soft.

Add the paprika, garlic, and ginger and cook briefly.

Add the tomato and the tofu, cut into small cubes, along with the water.

If using fresh corn, cut it from the cob and add it to the pot, along with the cornstarch mixed in a little extra water. If using canned and/or frozen corn, add them both now.

Bring to a boil, and simmer for a minute, stirring to prevent sticking.

Sprinkle chopped green onion on each serving

Greens with Tofu

(Tse Tofu)

This very quick and easy dish also has lots of visual appeal, with the white tofu standing out against a background of dark green Swiss chard. Serve it with rice.


  • 1 bunch Swiss chard
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 blocks firm tofu (12 oz. each), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup green peas
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


Wash the Swiss chard and tear it into pieces, removing the stems.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan, and stir-fry the green onions, along with the paprika, ginger, and 2 cloves of garlic.

Stir in the soy sauce, tofu, and peas.

In a separate frying pan, heat a tablespoon of oil very hot.

Stir in the black pepper.

Add the Swiss chard, still slightly wet, and toss to coat with the oil and pepper.

Cover the pan and let it steam for 30 seconds.

Spread the greens on a serving platter and pour the tofu mixture on top.

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