Traditional food systems of Changthang, Ladakh



The food production, consumption, and preservation systems and most of the food products of Changthang region are unique to it due to its extra-ordinary conditions largely governed by the ethnic preference, agro-climatic conditions and socio-cultural and religious ethos. The uniqueness is well expressed from the rest of Ladakh also. The inhabitants lead nomadic, semi-nomadic and sedentary ways of life thus having different food systems. The nomads are solely dependent upon meat and dairy products for the nutritional requirement with very little consumption of other food material. They consume a lot of meat around the year, either fresh or in preserved forms. The semi-nomads consume meat, dairy products and other food products, almost in equal quantities. The permanent settlers mostly depend upon cereals and vegetables and consume comparatively less meat and dairy products. A semi-structured questionnaire containing open-ended questions, semi-structured interviews and on spot observations was used for gathering information. The various traditional foods and beverages of Changthang are gyuma, ruskhu and sha-spaqs (meat based products); nyakir and nyabon (fish based products); mar-khaqla, labo, churpe/chura, chura-narmo and thut (dairy products); kharyos, kholaq, paba and chang (barley based products); chu-tagi, paqtsa-markhu, timoq and tagi-skyurchuk (wheat based products) and zatsot, skoche and gege (wild vegetables). These times tested systems undergo change due to change in food habits and need to be preserved to maintain the cultural identity as well as the health and wellness of the people of the region. This paper is an attempt to document the traditional food systems practiced in Changthang and foods and beverages enjoyed by the inhabitants.


Changthang, Churpe, Kholaq, Losar, Moqmoq, Paba

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