Lahu People Like Spicy Food

The Lahus like spicy food. They have a saying that goes "cooking without chili is the same as cooking without oil". Rice and corn are the staple grains, and Lahu eat two meals daily, but they also eat smaller amounts of wheat, buckwheat and potato. These starches are usually accompanied by various fruits and vegetables such as radishes, melon, and beans as well as roast meats. Their characteristic method of roasting meat involves coating it with salt and spices and cooking it over an open fire between two bamboo sticks. Lahu meat has a distinctive and pleasing flavor, aroma, and yellow color.


Lahus cuisine (Photo by Yi Shaoping, from

Another Lahu specialty is their variety of salted, preserved foods, which include meats, tofu, fermented soybeans and various pickled vegetables. Particularly interesting are their salted animal bones. The bones are hammered into small pieces and seasoned with salt, pepper, round cardamom, and anise are stored in a clay pot for several months until they are ready to be eaten.

The Lahus traditionally drink roasted tea. The tea leaves are first put into a small teapot and roasted on a fire oven until they brown. Then boiling water is poured into the pot, producing a tea with a strong, pleasant aroma. When the Lahus have guests in their home, they are expected to serve them several cups of roast tea to show respect and hospitality. The first tea is slightly bitter. Therefore the hosts always drink the first tea themselves before filling the pot with water a second time and serving the second, better tea to their distinguished guests.

The Lahu also have own distinctive wines and liquors, which they often share with their neighbors from the Dai, Hani, Blang and other ethnic groups during the New Year and other festivals.

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