Weds - Fri 5-9.30pm 🍴  Sat / Sun 12-3pm / 5-9.30pm

When Christmas Comes Early

Our family celebrated Tibetan New Year over the weekend, but without any of the fanfare back home in the Himalayas.

Losar (or Tibetan New Year) isn’t actually until February this year, but as usual family and village folk are partying early. The New Year marks the beginning of springtime, and if fresh grasses are already through for their herd, then the nomads must return to the fields. Losar feasting, dancing and religious rituals are a kind of winter swan song that in Yeshi’s village always happens before New Year actually comes around.

Back home this isn’t an issue: it still feels like New Year. Over three days family members and neighbours get together to prepare and enjoy the best spread that they can produce. They visit local monasteries and make offerings. Purification ceremonies take place at the village stupa, welcoming in the new. Homes are swept and cleaned, and buildings are whitewashed. New clothes, saved for the occasion, have their moment, usually on the dance floor, which is the focus of most Losar celebrations.

But in Oxford, it’s business as usual. Tibetan friends here rarely mark the New Year at the same time as Yeshi and his brother Nyima: in their village the celebrations will happen on a different day. So for years now Yeshi has just gone to work while this important festival takes place for his relatives elsewhere.

There is, at least, an immediacy about the way in which Yeshi and Nyima can now celebrate with family from afar. Years ago, when they were both living in India, they had no contact at all with relatives back home. Months after the New Year they might receive a DVD with footage of Losar celebrations in the village. When I first met Yeshi he would have these on in the background all the time, pausing here and there when a family member featured fleetingly somewhere in the throng. The DVDs were all copies of copies, and it didn’t take long before they started to get fuzzy at these critical moments.

These days images make their way over instantly. This is wonderful in many ways, but unsettling in others. It was arguably less painful for Yeshi to be so far away when he didn’t know what he was missing until long after the fact.

This year, having Nyima with us for Losar is a great consolation. On Sunday the brothers cooked up this feast for our family (see above), which we washed down with tea and sweet treats including honey nut granola bars (pictured below). You can find the recipe for these here and in our cookbook, which contains lots more New Year’s dishes if you want to have a go at home.

Here are our opening hours for the week ahead:

Wednesday – Friday: 5-9.30pm (dinner only)
Saturday: 12-3 (lunch) / 5-9.30pm (dinner)

Our menu is out now – check it! Come by for hot food and food for the freezer including family-sized boxes. We also have good stocks of chilli oil and pickled mooli radish. And don’t forget our chocolate tsampa truffles – I always say that they’re almost healthy, as the main ingredient is roasted barley flour. 

Looking forward to seeing you all!

Julie and Yeshi

Opening hours this week:
Weds – Fri: 5-9.30pm
Sat: 12-3pm 🥢 5-9.30pm
☏ 01865 499318

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The Restaurant is Closed!

We’re resting over Christmas.
The online shop is still open but the takeaway will be closed until 05/01/24. See you soon!