Lhaphing in Boudha

Food Issue 156 Nov, 2014
Text by Anubhuti Poudel

Exploring Boudha’s true culinary gem.

Boudha is the melting pot of everything that has come to represent Kathmandu – religion, culture, chaos and good food.  Multi-colored prayer flags flutter from the buildings, guttural chants waft the air and the peace that suddenly envelops as you wander the bustling streets is almost surreal.  Stray from the main thoroughfare and you will suddenly end up in an intricate network of gallis, and it is in these hidden alleyways that you will find delicious servings of the relatively unknown lhaphing. 

Try Lhaphing for three main reasons. First for its origins. Lhaphing was originally a Sichuan cuisine called liang fen, that is universally enjoyed as delicious street food across the Tibetan plateau. Secondly for its culture. This Tibetan dish has travelled via northern Nepal with the many Tibetan émigrés who have made Boudha their home.  Here, the taste has been kept alive by the migrants and now the cuisine is finally catching on with Kathmandu locals as well. Third and most importantly, try lhaphing for its scrumptious taste.  A cold summer dish, extenuated by spices, this culinary delight is bound to twist your palate. All in a good way. 

So what is lhaphing like? Lhaphing is a noodle dish seasoned with spices.  The noodle is made from starches extracted either from potato or flour, and is cooked overnight. Once the extract has settled, they are cut and formed into noodles before being dipped in a sauce made from dried chilies and vinegar.  A variety of spices including garlic, cloves, onions and coriander  is thrown in to add to its flavor profile, along with a healthy dose of sesame oil. 

This cold dish takes your taste buds by storm, and is a culinary experience that you will not find anywhere else in the valley.  Couple that with the rich history and culture behind the food, and it makes a mandatory Kathmandu experience. 

The taste aside, lhaphing also makes for a delicious social food. It is light and spicy and you don’t necessarily need an empty stomach to enjoy the dish. It is easy to prepare (thus quickly served) and easier to devour over gossiping and merry making with good company. On your next escapade to Boudha, make sure you hunt down a good lhaphing pasal. I bet it won’t be too difficult!