Week 1, Day 1
Beware this is a long post !
For the last day under the theme Make a Meal, I have a meal from Sikkim. During the Diwali vacation we took a trip to Sikkim. We visited Gangtok, Penning and Darjeeling. When we planned this trip I wondered as to what kind of vegetarian food would be available. North East is popular for its non vegetarian food. While working on India States for our mega marathon, we had a tough time cooking from the North Eastern states. On my search I had found that the staple was Momos and Thukpa. This time I discovered another soup called Kauri.
Kauri is a mini shell made from all purpose flour, which is added as a mini dumpling to vegetable stock to make the soup. Vegetables or meat could be added to the soup.
Whenever I visit a new state I look forward to. Meeting the local chef of the hotel, so I can get some unknown recipes. So I had a good meeting with the chef in Gangtok and he told me some dishes which were absolutely new and unheard. In fact he gave me a demo of a couple of these recipes.
Similarly I met the chef in Penning and Darjeeling too and every time I got still different and new recipes and dishes. But what I summarized was that these people were basically from Nepal and the cuisine was a mix of Sikkim and Nepal, it also had traces of West Bengal cuisine. These people had a breakfast of momos, fried rice ,a simple lunch which had a local vegetable , a green or Daal with rice and roti. The dinner for men would be alcohol and chilly chicken. I wondered what the ladies would eat, and I learnt that they ate some chicken too. Even for lunch they mix meat with local greens. Sikkim had lots of vegetables, but still they live dominantly on non vegetarian food.
I must tell you a little about the food that was served on the road side. While traveling from Pelling to Darjeeling we came across a couple of road side restaurants that served breakfast. Since West Bengal is a neighboring state one could make out its influence.One of the restaurants served Gughni, Kala Channa , Momos with Tamatar ki Chutney and roti. They also had Gundrak ka Achaar. Gundrak is dried rai ko saag. The rai ko saag is dried in a pit for about fifteen days and it has a very peculiar and a strong smell. While making the achaar they soak and wash the Gundrak many times, then add some chilly and onion to it. I actually liked the flavor of it but the hotel chef discouraged me to carry its raw form as it has a very strong smell and he was scared that the people on the flight might run away.
you see the Bengali influence..Onion Pakora, Aaloo Chop, Parathas, Buns and Momos on the streets.
Non Veg Parathas
Kala channa being boiled to make chaat
At another road side joint we were served Momos and Noodles. Maggie is also something that one can see on the road side. These people have lots of Chinese food, but Momos rank the highest. The locals made them with such ease and their chutney tasted stunning. I made sure that I tasted these everywhere I got them, but concluded that the Momos did not have any spice. They added just salt and ajinomoto to the sauted cabbage, which made the filling for these. The chutney varied from vendor to vendor.
Road side Momos
I went around the local vegetable market and saw different vegetables. It was rather interesting to see these new vegetables and I picked some of them , I took the recipes for the same and came and cooked a complete spread.
I also picked a kilo of Dalley Khorsani, the fire ball red chillies which are very popular in Sikkim. The chillies are preserved for years either in vinegar or salt. I have to admit that these are real fire balls...very very spicy. A chutney made from these tastes heavenly. At the time of eating this chutney I thought of Usha, as she loves spicy food.
Here is a glimpse of the local vegetables ...
Ruk Labera also called Tree Tomatoes as these grow on trees
Rai no saag
Simrayo no Saag
I have collected many recipes from the state but as of now let me give you the menu and a description of the dishes that I cooked.
( steamed dumplings made with all purpose flour ,stuffed with simple sauted cabbage)
( this is a Daal which is a cross between our Moong beans and black Udad. The colour is greenish brown. The Daal is made with the recipe of either Daal Tadka or Black Makhani Daal )
Rai no Saag
( this is a local green which tastes quite like sarso ka Saag and like radish leaves. It is cooked in a simple manner )
Simrayo ko Saag
( another local green which is slightly sour in taste, but truly delicious, also called the Spanish water Grass)
( actually baby potatoes are used for this dish, but I used regular small sized ones. The potatoes are washed and then smashed and cooked with simple spices )
Churpi ka Jhol
( a Nepali cheese, cooked in tomato gravy . This was similar to our paneer, but had a peculiar flavor. I guess we need to adapt it )
( local vegetable, looks like a cousin of avocado, tastes like bottle gourd. Simple comfort dish )
( these are called karelas, but no where near their taste. )
( a little like the Gujrati Vaal, but these beans are whitish pink in color, though some of these are light green too. The taste is quite similar but these beans are a little mild )
Pudina ko Chutney
( a chutney made with mint, tree tomato and lemon, one of the most delicious chutneys I have ever had )
Tamatar ka Achaar
( roasted tree tomatoes (ruk lambera is the local name for these tomatoes )onions, Local fire ball chilly hand pounded to make this achaar, which is more like a chutni. Yum to the core.)
Moola no achaar
( Rato Mula or red radish cut into juillines, spiced up with fire ball chilly and drizzled with lemon juice. Makes an excellent accompaniment with any meal )
Bread and Rice
( steamed rice )
( whole wheat flatbread )
Dhan ki Kheer
( a kheer with with the local field rice)