Trekking is not always about the scenes and views, rather it is about the memories and the experiences you draw from the journey. To make those amazing memories, traveling gives you an opportunity to come face to face with the cultures, habits, and traditions. What more than the food to represent all the diverse cultures you explore along the way?
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Upper Mustang Trek is a trek to the northern side of the Himalayan region of Nepal which is home to various ethnic groups representing different food cultures. As you start the trek to the Mustang region, the first meal you have is the iconic Dal-Bhat which is a mixture of rice along with lentils, vegetables, Gundruk (fermented spinach), achars, and Chatnis on the side. This meal is the go-to food here in Nepal and is eaten twice a day as it is energizing and fulfilling. In context with many other cuisines, you will come across local authentic food varieties such as newari food, street foods such as pani puri, Syabhale, Chowmin, momos, keema noodles and more in the first few days of your stay at Kathmandu. Kathmandu being the capital city offers a mixture of various different cultures with their unique diet. Newari food and Thakali food are famous among local tourists as well as international tourists. The diverse ethnic and cultural values are represented by the diversity of the food people eat within their respective communities. You experience this diversity through the foods you have along the way to the Mustang region.
Talking about the food and meals, the infamous Momo gives you an exploding taste of spices and richness. Thukpas are Nepali hot noodle soup that gives you a warm cozy feeling as you move towards the cold windy region of Mustang. Yak and Chauri meats that are indigenous to the mountains are also appealing and nutritious along with the cheese that is made from the milk they produce. One of the interesting and most intriguing diets you have is the pudding made from buckwheat, maize, or millet known as Dhido which is mostly consumed in the higher region instead of rice. The only rice produced and consumed in the colder region such as upper mustang is Marsi Rice. Other than Dhido you might find rotis pretty common there which can be of varied types such as Phapar roti, Kodo roti, and Gahuko roti. These regions of the 15 -days Upper Mustang Trek are mainly known for the production of potatoes, so different dishes of potatoes can be seen. Among them, Rildhok is a famous dish that is basically soup with cloudy textured potatoes, but this is the most comforting dish you will ever have. Besides these foods, a common food item you see is the Churpi, it is the hardest cheese you find and is available everywhere you go on this trek. Another interesting thing regarding the food here in Nepal is the fermented and stored food. During this trek, you are offered various fermented edible traditional dishes such as Gundruk, Sinki (fermented radish), fermented achars of fruits and vegetables such as mangos, Nepali hog pum, cucumber, radish, chilly, lemon, and more. The Ghee is the star of every Nepali dish as it is considered to give a premium taste to the buds. So you experience the balanced as well as fulfilling taste of varied food items during the Upper Mustang Trekking However, as you approach Muktinath Temple you mostly find foods known as Prasads mostly made up of sweets and milk.
To add further you are offered the finest of beers and rice wines that are traditionally made in Upper Mustang. Marpha is also known as the apple brandy of the fruit brandy which is highly consumed in the Mustang region. You can enjoy this fruit brandy with a luxurious view of the peaceful mountain range of the Annapurna circuit. In addition to this, there is other authentic local alcoholic beverage that you can try during this trek. Chaang and Tongba, for example, are home-brewed fermented beer which is indigenous to the Sherpa people, Raksi is the traditionally distilled alcohol that can be found in local shops of Jomsom and Lo Mangthang. You will explore the events of people drinking yak blood as a cultural belief of the medicinal properties that it holds. Other than alcoholic beverages, you also enjoy the traditionally made curd and yogurt as well as Mohi(a mixture of yogurt and water after the butter is separated). Tea made from the highly nutritious milk of the Yaks and Chauries raged in the hardy weather of Mustang is appreciable.
The usual cuisines offering burgers, noodles, soup, salad, eggs, French fries, and more are also available but with the local Nepali touch of the locally available herbs and fresh ingredients from their farms. The food tour during the Upper Mustang trek is worthwhile as it fills your heart with the sweetness of the diverse cuisine you consume throughout the journey.