DDSC Tsampa



Drikung Dharma Surya Center, 5300 Ox Road, Fairfax, Virginia 22030, USA



Tsampa is a traditional Tibetan basic diet for thousands of years that is prepared from barley by far being the most important crop of the high-altitude Tibetan plateau.  Barley grains are first hand washed and dried (which is tedious and time consuming), then roasted until the barley is cooked through (like popcorn as one can smell the roasted barley), and finally the roasted barley is ground into Tsampa flour.  People use water mills in the farming areas in Tibet, but in the nomadic areas, people use hand-mills to grind the roasted barley.

The importance of Tsampa in Tibet goes beyond its value as food, because it is intertwined with many other cultural associations as an integral part of Tibetan culture and identity.

Khenmo Konchok Tsechik and Lopon Ani Konchok Gamtso best utilize their little break time at Drikung Dharma Surya whenever available to make this special Tsampa for the temple use as well as to offer to the sangha and the public. This DDSC Tsampa is indeed made in a world of their own of smile, love and bodhicitta!


Tsampa is a nutritious and wholesome food and has gained recognition for offering a great deal of health benefits, including for those individuals with diabetes.

  • Tsampa is rich in dietary fiber, which aids in digestion and helps maintain a healthy weight. Tsampa’s high fiber content also contributes to a feeling of fullness, which can help prevent overeating and promote weight management.
  • Barley, the main ingredient in Tsampa, is one of the oldest agricultural crops and has a low glycemic index, which means it causes a slower rise in blood sugar levels compared to other carbohydrate-rich foods. The hull-less barley also has several health-promoting properties along with its high nutritional values.
  • Tsampa contains a variety of beneficial vitamins (rich source of vitamin E and whole vitamin B complex), minerals (such as phosphorus, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese, copper and zinc), unsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, and bioactive phytochemicals.  These nutrients contribute to the protective health effects of Tsampa and can potentially reduce the prevalence of metabolism-related syndromes caused by a high-fat-sucrose diet. These nutrients are essential for various bodily functions, such as energy production, red blood cell formation, muscle and nerve function, and immune system support.
  • Tsampa is prebiotic, which means it helps promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria. It is a good source of non-starch polysaccharides, which have been linked to improved digestive health and a reduced risk of developing conditions such as constipation, diverticulosis, and colon cancer.
  • Tsampa’s inclusion of unsaturated fatty acids provides essential fats that are beneficial for heart health. These unsaturated fatty acids have been shown to improve cholesterol levels (decreasing levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood) and thus reduce the risk of heart disease.


Tsampa or roasted barley flour is a highly digestible food which allows its calories to be quickly incorporated into the body. It is a stable food, and if properly stored (in the fridge), it keeps for a long time.  Tsampa can be prepared for meal in a variety of ways.

  • Tsampa flour can be mixed with various ingredients such as ghee/butter/cheese, milk/tea/water, and sugar/jaggery/honey to create a nutritious and happy meal, such as oatmeal with any assortment of nuts, berries, or fresh or dried fruits of your choice for breakfast.
  • Tsampa can be prepared in its most simple dish by adding milk or tea (Tibetan butter tea) and then moulding the mixture by hand into dough balls and eating them piece by piece. The hands-on working with Tsampa is likened to working with clay. These balls can be prepared for a slightly more sophisticated meal by frying them and eating them alone or with other protein food for lunch or dinner.
  • Tsampa can also be rolled into noodles or used in the making of Tibetan momo: meat or vegetable stuffed dumplings.


While Tsampa may be considered as special Tibetan food, it is being used in all Tibetan religious activities, festive occasions and special life events.

  • Tsampa is used in torma for Tibetan tantric rituals or as offerings in Tibetan buddhist rites.
  • Tsampa is also used as part of the Tibetan festive occasions, such as the throwing of a pinch of Tsampa in the air, which is a gesture of celebration and joy at weddings and Losar (New Year) day and other important occasions of Tibetan life milestones.

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