Tukpa, or spicy noodle and vegetable soup (Tibet)

Oh boy. Life has been busy. Interesting but busy. My first novel will be out soon, so a lot of work with proofs, promotion, etc. And I signed a contract for a food-related book (partially also a vegan cookbook!) which will be out next year. Quite excited about both! Unfortunately for most of you, they are both in Finnish. My mother-in-law is also currently visiting us from Finland. However, today is the first anniversary of Vegventures, so I just had to squeeze in a post.

Tibet is a much-contested small country located north of the Himalayas, between India/Nepal and China. It is often called “roof of the world”, as it is the highest region on Earth. The definition of the country and even its language, Tibetan, are quite confusing, depending on whom you ask. Tibetan is written with its own script, by the way. Tibet is the home to Tibetan Buddhism and also used to be the home of the Dalai Lama.

If you go to a Tibetan restaurant (there are few Tibetan Nepalese restaurants here in Amsterdam, and I’ve seen some very weird combinations too – I think one was Tibetan Indonesian!), the food will likely be somewhat similar to Indian/Nepalese food, except that it will feature some seemingly Chinese ingredients like noodles and soy sauce. Mustard is also a common spice. The Tibetan staples are barley and yak products, such as yak meat and yak butter, which they also use in tea. Barley is often made into a dough called tsampa which is made into noodles or dumplings known as momos.

This noodle soup sounded very comforting and nice, plenty of spices too. Still, I was a bit disappointed. I think it would be much, much better using homemade vegetable stock (or at least adding a stock cube, Maggi or something) instead of water, since there was a lot of flavour, but it kind of lacked “body”. Somehow I also missed the “fresh” part in the ingredients list, so I used that amount of dried noodles, resulting in an overly noodle-y soup. Oops. (It’s not spaghetti, even though it may look like that.)



2 tbsp oil or margarine
1.5 tbsp minced fresh ginger root
1.5 tbsp minced garlic
1 cup/2.5 dl chopped red onion
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp Kopan masala (or 1 tsp garam masala and a hint of nutmeg)
1 cup/1.2 dl peeled, boiled and cubed potato
1 cup/1.2 dl chopped tomato
4-5 cups/1-1.2 l water or vegetable stock (see notes)
0.25 lb/100 g fresh noodles (or about half of that, if using dried noodles).
0.5 cup/1.2 dl chopped fresh spinach
1.2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp salt (reduce if using a stock cube)
0.25 tsp ground black pepper

Heat the oil or margarine in a kettle or a large frying pan. Stir-fry the ginger, garlic and red onion for 1 minute. Add the dry spices and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the potatoes and tomatoes and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the water and bring to boil.

Add the noodles and cook until they are done. Add the spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Add the soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste and water, if needed.

Serve hot. Makes 4 portions.

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