Bowl of Tibetan Tsampa Porridge Photo by Sian

Bowl of Tibetan Tsampa Porridge
Photo by Sian

Tibetan Tsampa Porridge submitted by Tsezom Yuthok

Before the 4-month mission began we held a recipe contest. I asked our audience to submit recipes we could make during our mission that used shelf-stable ingredients from our pantry list. The response was overwhelming. We received a large number of submissions and decided to make 25 of them, five in each of the following categories: breakfast, main meal, soup or stew, side dish, and desserts. Click here to see the finalist’s recipes.

We kicked off making the recipes with a breakfast dish submitted by Tsezom Yuthok called Tibetan Tsampa Porridge. I chose this recipe first because Tsezom, and The Great Himalaya Foods Company, went through the trouble of sending us a free sample of tsampa, milled barely grain, all the way to Hawaii. Also, the tsampa porridge seems like the perfect space food. It’s quick, easy to make, and has a lot of nutritional bang for its buck.  The purpose of the HI-SEAS study is to look at food preparation strategies for long duration space flight. In a nutshell, astronauts tend to suffer menu fatigue over time – so they don’t eat as much. This could potentially be disastrous for long-term lunar or Martian missions.  Part of our goal is to be culinarily creative with shelf-stable ingredients while the principle investigators of this study examine our moods, health, power and water consumption, time spent cooking and cleaning up, and changes in our nasal passageway and sense of smell. There is a whole slew of research surrounding our food study. For more details, check out crew member Kate Greene’s Discover Magazine post “Why Astronauts Need Good Noses.”

Tsampa porridge seems to have all the qualities of a good, nutritious, breakfast cereal that is quick and easy. Here is what Tsezom wrote about how barely grains are made into tsampa, and how Tibetan nomads and pilgrims have eaten the flour:

Tsampa is a Tibetan staple food made from barley. The process of making tsampa is very labor intensive: barley grain is first washed, dried, then traditionally sand roasted, grains cleaned of sand, and then milled to either a fine or coarse texture. Tsampa is highly regarded for its dense nutritional value. Tibetan nomads and pilgrims have for centuries depended on tsampa to sustain them on their long journeys, and we hope you will find this humble staple of Tibet to be useful for on your journey to Mars!                                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                 by Tsezom Yuthok

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Ingredient used for tsampa porridge: Milk, butter, and stampa
Photo by Sian

Recipe Ingredients (Serving size 8):

  • 2 cups Tsampa (roasted barley flour)
  • 8 cups milk
  • 4 teaspoon butter
Optional add-ins for tsampa porridge: dehydrated raspberries, blueberries, apple dices, banana chips, apricots, brown sugar, and honey. Photo by Sian

Optional add-ins for tsampa porridge: freeze-dried raspberries, blueberries, apple dices, banana chips, dehydrated apricots, brown sugar, and honey.
Photo by Sian

Optional and made available to the crew:

  • brown sugar
  • honey
  • 1 cup dehydrated apricots
  • 2 cup freeze-dried banana chips
  • ½ cup freeze-dried blueberries
  • ½ cup freeze-dried apple cubes
  • ½ cup freeze-dried raspberries


Directions:

  1. Pour milk and butter into pot and bring to boil.
  2. Immediately set temperature to low, making sure milk does not boil over.
  3. Using a standard size whisk, add tsampa into pot of milk, whisking thoroughly until tsampa turns to a creamy texture (almost like Cream of Wheat hot cereal). This should take about 4-5 minutes.
  4. Tsampa porridge is now ready to be served.
  5. Using a ladle, scoop out 1 cup of tsampa porridge into each bowl.
  6. Top porridge with brown sugar, honey, or fruits.
  7. Tsampa porridge is now ready to be enjoyed!
Sian and Angelo cooking tsampa. Photo by Sian

Sian and Angelo cooking tsampa.
Photo by Sian

Our commander Angelo helped me prepare the tsampa. It gave off a tantalizing roasted barley smell as we whisked it into the hot milk and butter.  It took about 5 minutes to whisk in all of the tsampa. The barley grain used by the Great Himalaya Foods Company is a hull-less organic variety. This increases the fiber and nutrient value over hulled barley.

The crew enjoyed the tsampa and how it can be customized to individual tastes. Tsampa is versatile and can be used to make pancakes, to bulk up smoothies, or to thicken soup. I ate my tsampa with rehydrated banana chips, freeze-dried raspberries and blueberries, and a little bit of brown sugar and honey.  You can order a variety of tsampa flavors at The Great Himalaya Food Company website, where you can also find additional recipes and information. Drop us a comment below if you’ve cooked with tsampa, have a recipe using it, or want to share your thoughts on this post.

Kate eating tsampa porridge Photo by Sian

Kate eating tsampa porridge
Photo by Sian

Angelo eating tsampa porridge Photo by Sian

Angelo eating tsampa porridge
Photo by Sian