Zanba(roasted highland qingke barley flour)

Last updated by chinatravel at 2013-11-3

The staple food of Tibetan people is Zanba, a kind of dough made with roasted highland qingke barley flour and yak butter with water. Method of making: grind the roasted Highland Barley into flour, and mix it with ghee. It is similar to parching wheat flour in northern China. People in northern China grind the wheat into flour before parching it, but Tibetan people do the opposite. They roast the Barley seeds before grinding them into flour. What’s more, Tibetan people do not remove the husk of the Barley.

When eating Zanba, Tibetan people put some ghee in a bowl, pour some boiled water into the bowl, then put some roasted flour into the water, and mix them with one hand. When mixing the tea, they press the flour slightly against the edge of the bowl with their fingers to avoid spilling the tea. After mixing all the roasted flour, the tea and the ghee until the thing gets thick, people knead it into dough balls and eat them. Tibetan people use hands instead of chopsticks or scoops when eating. This habit is a little similar to the habits of Indians, who also use hands when eating rice.

Zanba is a simple food. It is quite easy to take some Zanba when Tibetan people move about in search of pasture. When Tibetan people leave home for a long time, they always carry a Zanba bag on their waists. Whenever they are hungry, they eat some Zanba. Sometimes, they take out a wood bowl, put some Zanba, buttered tea, and salt in the bowl, mix them. Then they knead the dough into balls and eat them. It’s very convenient. Sometimes, they drink some buttered tea while eating Zanba. Sometimes, they pour Zamba and buttered tea into a leather bag named “tangu”. Then, they hold the mouth of the bag with one hand and knead the bag with the other hand. After a while, the delicious Zanba dinner is ready.

During the Tibetan New Year Festival, every family will place an auspicious wood container called “Zusuqima” on the Tibetan-style cupboard. In the container are qingke, Zanba and zholma (groma food, a kind of Tibetan food), on top of which are ears of qingke wheat, wheat flowers and colored cards on which the sun, the moon and stars are drawn. When the neighbors or the relatives come to pay a New Year call, the hosts will entertain them with the food in “zhusiqima”. The guest will take some Zanba with one hand and flick in the air for three times. Then he takes some Zanba and put it in the mouth while saying “Tashi Delek” (meaning good luck and happiness) to express the best wishes.

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