Tibetan Culture: Tholma (Tibetan Breakfast)

Tibetan TsambaTibetans use roasted barley flour to make a porridge called tholma. While tsamba is dry and has the consistency of dough, tholma is more liquidy and has the consistency of porridge.  Tholma is generally considered to be a breakfast food.

For Tibetan families, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  It is the time when the entire family sits together chatting and relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.  Breakfast is a time when family members plan the day’s work on their farms or with their livestock.  ‘If your breakfast of tholma is wholesome, you don’t need dinner’ – thus run the lines of a traditional Tibetan proverb, expressing the importance of breakfast for Tibetan families.

Tibetans usually do not leave any small amount of tholma wasted.  At the end of their meal, they lick their bowl clean, thus not leaving even any small amount of tholma uneaten.  Tibetans follow the same practice when eating yoghurt.  Yoghurt and tholma are the only two types of food which are followed by the Tibetan practice of licking one’s bowl clean.