These cookies come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and flavors, but it has great significance to the Tibetans during celebrations.
Khapsay (or Khapse), which literally means "mouth-eats", are a staple of Tibetan New Year celebrations worldwide. Although these biscuits are made for other holidays and religious occasions, such as the enthronement of a lama, they are most commonly associated with the Tibetan New Year. Flour, eggs, butter, and sugar are common ingredients in preparing the khapsay dough. It is rolled out and cut into different sizes and shapes. It is typically served in small, twisted rectangles.
In February or March, Tibetan Buddhists celebrate Lhosar, a 15-day New Year's feast. In the event, Tibetans build magnificent altars. Among the sacred items found in these altars are several food-based offerings. Temples display both elaborate butter sculptures and butter-fueled lights made from yak's milk. Dried fruits, candies, and heaps of hand-formed, deep-fried khapsays can all be found on home altars of celebrants.
These cookies are piled up at the Lhosar altars as both a food offering and a decorative element. Strings of dried Tibetan cheese are used as toppings. Khapsay is frequently deep-fried in either butter or mustard oil. Deep frying gives the cookies their distinct light brown or golden color. Cooks make massive amounts of khapsays as offerings, celebratory gifts, and to keep their mouths occupied while working on other holiday meals in the kitchen. During Lhosar, khapsays are frequently served with sweet tea or Tibetan butter tea.
However, not all khapsays are intended for teatime. Cooks begin by making a symbolic scorpion-shaped cookie. This first gift is intended to ward off bad luck, including kitchen accidents, rather than to be eaten as a snack. Families in Lhosar hang the lucky animal in their kitchens. Cooks shape the remaining dough into various shapes. A "donkey's ear" (bhungue amcho) khapsay, as well as braided biscuits, crispy circles, and lotus flowers, can be found on the Lhosar altar (bulug). Kaptog are various small shapes of khapsay that are primarily intended for nibbling.
Tibetans fry up a ton of these crunchy delights for other notable events, such as weddings. Different chefs have different ways, but one might fry salted dough in mustard oil, while another might sprinkle powdered sugar over lard-rich, sweet dough. These cookies come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and flavors, but it has great significance to the Tibetans during celebrations.
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