Sikkimese food is a melange of Nepalese, Tibetan and Indian influences; rice is a staple, eaten with dhal, forest vegetables and pickles, including the supremely hot, fire-engine-red dalley chilli pickle. Churpi, a fresh cow-milk cheese, is generally made with a fern called ningro. Gyakho is a traditional chimney stew served on special occasions. Phing (glass noodles), shisnu (nettle soup), gundruk (fermented spinach), gyathuk (soup with handmade macaroni and local herbs; usually with beef) are other typical specialities, along with chicken, pork and beef dishes. Khodo (millet pancake) and fafar roti (buckwheat pancake) are generally eaten for breakfast. Tibetan dishes including momos and thukpa are found easily.
Restaurants in Gangtok serve alcohol; Hit and Dansberg are the local Sikkimese beer brands. Look out for tomba, a traditional drink usually served in winter, consisting of fermented millet served in a wooden or bamboo mug and sipped through a bamboo straw. The mug is periodically topped up with hot water; once it’s been allowed to sit for a few minutes, you’re left with a pleasant warm, watery drink that’s best on a cold evening. Chaang is a local millet beer, milky and fermented, found more commonly in homestays.