Delhi, India — A Tibetan woman shares her experience of selling laphing and explains how to make it, saying that selling laphing is her source of income.
The Delhi-born Tibetan Tenzin Sharma's laphing shop is a hotspot for Tibetan street food. You can find people enjoying this Tibetan snack near the monastery in Majnu Ka Tilla market, the Tibetan Settlement in Delhi, India.
In an exclusive interview, she tells TPI that although she was born and raised in Delhi, she longs to go back to Tibet and see her village. A popular figure in Delhi's Tibetan street food scene, she has encouraged a new generation of Tibetans to carry on the legacy of their rich Tibetan culture through food. She also talks to TPI about this delicious speciality, her business and the difficulties she faced during the pandemic.
Laphing is a popular Tibetan street food. The Laphing travelled to India with Tibetan refugees and became the most popular snack in Majnu Ka Tille in Delhi, also known as Little Tibet.
TPI: When did you start making Laphing?
Tenzin: I have been selling laphing in the Majnu Ka Tilla market for ten years. Since the very beginning, I have been sitting in front of the monastery and selling laphing to Indians and Tibetans from Delhi, as well as to tourists who come to Majnu Ka Tilla.
TPI: What exactly is Laphing and how do you make it?
Interviewee: This is Tibetan street food just like your Chai, Samosa, and so on. We have this little bowl of laphing made from atta, maida, soybean, chilli and garlic. We prepare the laphing through a steaming process. Each sheet consists of atta or maida which are steamed. We offer two options: dry laphing and soup laphing. The soup laphing contains water, vinegar and soy sauce. Dry laphing contains chilli, soya sauce, and garlic.
TPI: Who taught you to make this Tibetan Street food?
Interviewee: There is an aunt who comes from Tibet, she taught me how to make laphing. She was the first person to sell laphing in Majnu ka Tilla. She is my teacher, a family friend, and my inspiration. She now lives in the city of Dehradun in Uttarakhand, India.
TPI: Can you tell us about your customers and any competition you face in the Majnu Ka Tilla market?
Interviewee: Most of my customers are local Tibetans and Indians and university students, but there are also tourists and people from other parts of India. Saturdays and Sundays are busy days for me. As far as competition in this field is concerned, I think I have no difficulties and it depends on the luck of the people.
TPI: Did you face any difficulties due to the Covid-19 Pandemic?
Interviewee: When the pandemic came, everyone experienced difficulties, not just me. My house is rented, and I do not have my own house. So there was a lot of tension about how we were going to pay the rent because our business was affected. It was not just us, it was the whole world. The market was closed. People inside the area could not go out and people outside could not come in. Sitting at home became the normal thing to do. But now that the covid-19 situation in India has improved and there are fewer cases of covid-19 and the wearing of masks has also decreased, so we can do business as usual.