I’m officially in the south! I’ve traded up the mountains and creamy curries for sand, heat and giant mung bean pancakes. Hampi has has me under her spell as I whittle away the last days of my Indian adventure in this sleepy town of massive, teetering boulders and ancient temples. I’ve found a haven here but the south really wasn’t doing much for me when I initially hit my first stop of Goa. The gorgeous, beach laden and alcohol soaked tourist wonderland of India didn’t seem real. I missed my cold mornings, hot showers and the funky, grounded, often tripped out tourists that I’d spent ten weeks around in the north. There was one word that made the south magic though: dosas. Mug beans and rice transformed into the king of all savory crepes. As soon as they combined forces with their coconut chutney and thin curry condiments I was officially swept up in my own Goan wonderland. I’ll try to uncover a good recipe here but it’s not something usually made in Indian homes, there’s a lot of prep for one meal and now that I’m in Hampi not so many places around that have mastered the art.
Onto Dum Aloo though, another dish I was taught in north India and one that’ll send you into curry heaven! The sauce is creamy but not rich (its only the work of some milk) and the stuffed potatoes humped through it are a dream for vegetarians and carnivores alike. If you’re looking for a meaty curry though, you can grill off some chicken and use the same sauce for something tasty on a whole different level. Likewise, have a play with substituting in different types of veg and cheese, the sauce is a gold mine you can do anything with!
Some prep before the magic happens:
For onion paste:
- 2 small onions finely sliced
- 2 cup water
- Boil for 10 minutes over VERY high heat (no cover)
- Drain water
- Place in blender/liquidizer with 1/2 cup water and blend till smooth
For tomato paste:
- 3 small tomatoes
- add to blender/liqidizer and blend till smooth
For curry sauce:
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 brown cardamom pods (They have a rough, brown bark on the outside of them. Use green pods if you can’t find brown)
- 1/2 stick of cinnamon
- 1 large curry leaf (preferably fresh, but dry is fine)
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp chilly powder (or to taste)
- 1 tsp garlic ginger paste (or 1/2 tsp each of minced garlic and ginger)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp kitchen king (if you can’t find it, no stress, just leave it out. Should be available in most indian grocers)
- 1 cup milk (all milk is skim here but you can use full cream for a richer flavor)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tbsp dessicated coconut
- 2 tsp butter
For the stuffed potatoes that go with the sauce: (a pinch would be around 1/4 tsp)
- 2 medium whole boiled potatoes (cooled)
- 100g cheese (there isn’t much variety in cheese here so they use something similar to mild cheddar or otherwise they stick to paneer. I reckon a stronger cheese would be really nice, like a tasty cheese or a mix with some parmesan thrown in. Not so traditional but yuuuuuuummmmm! :D)
- 1 tbsp white flour
- 1/2 tbsp corn flour
- pinch salt
- pinch chilli
- pinch whole cumin seeds
- pinch garam masala
- 1 tbsp desiccated coconut
- 1/4 cup milk (Add just enough that your mix is smooth but still very thick)
- 6-10 raisins
- Heat oil till very hot (just before smoking) over high heat in a pot
- Take off heat and add cardamum, cinnamon, curry leaf (torn into chuncks), tumeric, cumin, chilly, garlic and ginger paste and salt.
- Stir in the hot oil for a few seconds till fragrant before putting it back onto a high heat and cooking till spices are browned
- Add tomato paste and 1/2 cup water
- Cook for 5 minutes over high heat
- Add onion paste with another 1/2 cup water
- Add garam masala, kitchen king (if using) and boil for 5 minutes more over a VERY high heat, constantly stirring
- Add 1 cup milk, desiccated coconut and butter if using
- Cook for another 5 mins over high heat then done! Ready for the potatoes
- Cut the potatoes in half and hollow out of three of the halves using a spoon (keep the middle bits for the stuffing)
- Peel the skin off all of them
- Mash together the left over whole potato half and the scooped out middles with the remaining ingredients (use your fingers or a fork)
- Stuff this into the hollow potatoes
- Mix up 1 tbsp corn flour with 1/4 cup water and smear this over where the potatoes have been stuffed (this makes sure they stay together whilst frying)
- Deep fry in vegetable oil till golden brown. Pour over your sauce, garnish with some cream or butter and dig in!
Try and boil your potatoes nice and early and have them cooled down by the time you get to this stage. They’re a lot easier to handle and hold together a lot better.
So I’m still in McLeod! I can’t seem to tear myself away from this place, it’s like India’s version of Melbourne (my home) so I feel very much settled here. I’ve started some volunteer work to fill my days, meet some incredible people and hopefully help some of them. I’m teaching english to Tibetan refugees and soon I’ll be in the kitchen to help cater for some fundraising nights (weew! So up my alley). I’ve just started with it all so I’ll see how long this keeps me busy and fulfilled enough to justify staying. Otherwise itchy feet to see the south will have me heading to Rishikesh or Amritsar very soon! Something has me wanting to put back into this place before I go though, there’s so much warmth here and it’s seen me through a lot of hard lessons.
So fittingly here’s some more Tibetan deliciousness! There’s nothing like one of these soups when winter starts laying down its heavy blanket of bone aching chill. Mothup is something really special with deliciously cheesy mini momo bobbing in a tasty, fragrant broth. You can’t help but feel a satisfied, nap inducing happiness digging into a bowl of it. This stuff will put a smile on your face, a rose in your cheek and fill you up till staying conscious is a ridiculous effort.
Thentuk is a traditional, staple Tibetan dish that will do something very similar. This one is great as it’s really quick to make once you get the hang of the noodles. If you’d like something even faster you can make “Thukpa” with the same recipe using any long, thick packaged noodles instead of home made ones.
Keep these bookmarked for a cold night and a skimpy budget. Simple and easy doesn’t get any more satisfying!
Each individual soup recipe will give you three serves
For the dough: These portions will give you enough dough to try out both soups (three serves each soup) with a little dough left over. Just halve this part of the recipe if you only want to make one soup
- 1 handful plain white flour (I’d say 1 handful is around 3/4 cup ish. It’s more about getting the right consistency. Quantity isn’t an issue as you’ll probably have leftover dough, so as long as you get it elastic and kneading well you’re sorted)
- 100 mL water (or till dough comes together and is nice and pliable)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp oil (any vegeable oil)
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl
- Mix well (use one finger to mix in the beginning to avoid making your whole hand a sticky mess)
- Kneed for 4 minutes
- Divide dough into 2 (if you are wanting to try both soups)
- Leave to rest. 5 minutes for mothup (not too much longer as the dough will become too soft. Might be worth chopping your filling ingredients before making the dough if you’re a slow chopper). 15 – 20 minutes for thentuk (you want the dough nice and soft for this one)
Filling ingredients: (Because the momo are so small you really have to get the ingredients chopped and grated very finely)
- 3 tbsp cabbage, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp carrot, peeled and grated
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ginger, minced
- 1/4 tsp garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp cheese, finely grated (cow cheese, any kind, be generous)
- 1 small potato, quartered sliced (few mm thick)
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1 small capsicum, quartered and sliced
- 1 handful of spinach (can use bok choy)
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ginger, minced
- 1 tsp garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
Mini momo (mothup) method:
- Thoroughly mix all filling ingredients
- Roll dough flat with a rolling pin (about 2 mm thick) on a generously floured surface (don’t be shy with the flour- the wrappers are really hard to work with if they get all stretched from being stuck to a surface)
- To get the shape of the wrappers, roll the dough over itself onto a thick rolling pin and then slice through the dough the length of the rolling pin to create sheets of the thin dough (refer to above pictures). Cut down the middle again until you have strips that are around 8- 10 cm wide. Alternatively, just slice your dough length wise into strips 8-10 cm (the previous method just saves a bit of time)
- Then cut these strips at 45 degree angles into the flat topped triangles shown in the pictures below
- Refer to pictures for how to shape the momo
Use around 1/2 tsp of filling. The more filling the more flavour but they can’t take much so don’t get too heavy with it. Fold the wrapper over the filling twice (or just roll it up from the filling corner till you have a similar shape to the second picture along). Pinch either side of the filling where the edges are open very well. Overlap and pinch to join the edges you’ve just closed and fold down the little collar of the momo. Done! 🙂
- Heat a pan over a med/high flame
- Add garlic, ginger, and salt and fry till brown and smelling amazing
- Add capsicum, onion, tomato and carrot and fry for a few minutes roughly mashing with the back of your spoon till the tomatoes start to break down and the onions are translucent.
- Add 200 mL water per person (600 mL for this recipe)
- Add spinach, leftover filling if you have any (if you don’t then adding a little bit of extra grated cheese here is very yummy) and soy sauce and heat till it just starts to boil
- Add your mothups (mini momo) and boil until the momo start to float, around 3-5 minutes depending on the gas heat
- Take off the heat, dish into bowls and dig in!
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1tbsp minced ginger
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 big tomato, quartered and sliced (1/2 cm thick)
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 1 small carrot thinly sliced (get it around the 2 mm mark, this soup isn’t cooked for long so its easy to end up with crunchy hunks of carrot)
- 1 small bok choy roughly ripped into chunks
- 1 small green capsicum roughly, thinly chopped
- 200 ml hot water per person (for this recipe 600ml)
For optional sliced omelet as a garnish (if you like eggs it’s really tasty with the soup)
- Add oil to a dry, hot pot on med/high heat
- Add garlic, ginger and salt and fry till fragrant
- Add tomato, onion, carrot, bok choy and capsicum and fry, mashing with the back of your spoon till tomatoes have broken down and onion looks translucent
- Add water and bing to the boil
- As the water is coming to the boil get your dough ready by rolling it out into a large sheet. (If you’re trying out both soups then only use half of your big batch of dough). You want it a few millimeters thick
- Slice this into 3 cm strips
- Drape a strip over your arm (check out the above picture) and cover the rest of the rolled dough with a tea towel till you’re ready for your next one
- Now start tearing off 3cm ish hunks of noodle into your soup by pinching them off the big stip with your free hand. If you haven’t done this before it helps taking the soup of the heat till all the noodles are torn into it. This’ll make sure they all cook evenly even if you take your time with it. Don’t be too pedantic about shape and size either, it’s meant to be a rustic, home style dish so just tear away getting quicker as you get the feel for it. You should see how fast they make this stuff here!
- Once you’re happy with the amount of noodles in the dish (there should be a fair amount, check out the picture, but add however much you’d like) put the soup back on the heat
- Bring back to the boil and cook till the noodles are floating and cooked through
- Turn off heat
- If you’d like the omelet garnish then whisk together your eggs and salt and pour them into a hot, oiled frying pan on medium heat
- Cook for a few minutes till egg has stopped wobbling, it’s nice and bubbly on top and brown on the bottom then flip it onto a chopping board and slice into 2 cm strips
- Check the seasoning of your soup (ours needed a lot more salt but keep in mind this soup is nice with some soy sauce and chilly. So if you’re thinking of adding that later then don’t go too heavy with the salt now)
- Dish into bowls and add your sliced omelet on top
- Serve with chilly powder and soy sauce
Back in Mcleodganj! I’ve been galavanting round the Himachal region for a little over a week now but I’m back to my roots here. Tis by far the best place to chill out and spend some time away from intense touristing. Daily hikes and sight seeing can dissolve into chilling at cafes with real coffee as you poke your head out of the waves of gawking people that other areas throw at you 24/7.
This is a recipe from a Tibetan cooking class I took last time I was here at Lhamo’s Kitchen. If ever you come here he’s seriously worth looking up. The classes are cheap, you get a meal (or two) out of them and he’s Lonely Planet recommended to boot!
Don’t be fooled by the simple exterior of these Tibetan dumplings. They are so deliciously more-ish it’s rediculous. There is no such thing as left over momo. There are heaps of different fillings to try here, we made the vegetable, spinach and cheese and plain sweet momo in the class but I’m psyched to give the rest a go. The spinach and cheese one was my fave but make sure you’re generous with the cheese! We served the savoury momo with shredded raw cabbage and carrot heavily coated in a mix of soy sauce, tomato sauce and chilly powder. The shredded veggies lap up all the yummy sauce and, using the prongs of the momo, are easy to pinch into each bite. Soooooooooo good!
The sweet momo was served with honey smeared over the top, the steam making it a drippy but delicious mess. I’m yet to try the variations on the sweet momo but while the plain sweet momo wasn’t my favourite of the batch it was still very tasty. Nothing in Tibetan cooking is very sweet so for western sweet tooth’s either lather your momo in honey or add a little extra sugar into the filling recipes.
This recipe is enough for 6 people and is designed for 3 different fillings. If you only want to try one or two fillings then you might need to double the filling recipes. I seriously recommend giving a few a go though!
Master dough recipe
- 1/2 kg flour (Any kind aside from self raising)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 300 mL water (roughly. Add less to begin with and check consistency of dough, if it kneads well and is soft and elastic then you’re there.
- Mix flour and baking powder in a bowl
- Slowly mix in water and stir till well combined
- Dust a flat surface with flour and kneed dough for around 3 minutes
- Cover and set aside for 6 minutes (make the cover smaller rather than larger)
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So tasty, cheap and easy! Overcome the initial intimidation of a foreign list of spices and taste bud nirvana awaits!
So I’m in Himachal Pradesh at the moment, soaking up the mountains! The streets of McLeod Ganj are lined with Tibetan treats of ridiculously addictive momo (dumplings) and thick discs of Tibetan bread to drag through steaming cups of salty butter tea. Yum!
These recipes are on their way but this is from the one and only indian cooking class I took here. Dhal is staple food everywhere in India (most restaurants dont even sell it it’s so common and cheap) but its one of my all time favourite things to eat. Bonus that it’s one of the cheapest and easiest indian recipes around! Chances are whoever’s reading this has at least tried dhal but regardless of if you’re a connoisseur or a lentil virgin give this recipe a go! It was one of the most flavour packed dhal’s I’ve ever had (and i’ve had many) so get ready for your taste buds to start singing.
Don’t be shy with your stove heat, they use a really high flame here. The chef said medium heat but I altered it to med/high, his was blazing! Get your stove as high as you can.
This recipe will serve 5/6 people with rice and/or chapatti depending on how greedy the serving.
- 250g yellow lentils (washed till water runs off clear)
- 2 tsp tumeric powder (1 tsp each used in different steps)
- 2 small onions (very finely chopped)
- 2 medium tomatoes (very finely chopped)
- Oil (Olive or any other kind of vegetable oil)
- 1 tsp cumin seeds (whole)
- 3 tps salt
- 1 1/2 tsp chilly powder (or to taste)
- 1 tsp garlic/ginger paste (or 1/2 tsp each of minced garlic and ginger)
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp butter
The uncooked lentils! Using alternative lentils is fine though the cooking time and texture may change. This recipe is fail safe on flavour though
Volcanic pressure cooker. You dont have to have one for any of these recipes but if you love indian food and cook it a lot, they’re a great investment. They save a lot of time and they’re so popular in India that most internet recipes assume you have one now!
The cooked lentils before hitting the pan. Look for this consistency, you don’t want any bite to your lentils: slightly mushy and all cooked through.
- Add lentils and 4 cups of water to a pressure cooker with 1 tsp of the tumeric and cook for around 10 minutes (3 whistles on an indian pressure cooker) over high heat (If you don’t have a pressure cooker, cook for 15-20 minutes in a covered pot over high heat)
- Heat 3 tbsp oil in a dry hot pan (use very high heat)
- Add cumin seeds (oil should be hot enough to bubble) and cook till just brown
- Add onions and brown (get them as brown as you dare. The more brown the more tasty! They may look like they’re burning but if you’ve diced them very fine and you keep stirring you can get some amazing flavours out of cooking them till they’re dark)
- Add tomato and cook for 1 min
- Take off heat and add salt, chilly, remaining 1 tsp tumeric, garam masala, garlic and ginger.
- Put pan back on heat and cook for 2-3 mins mashing with the back of your spoon till you get a thick paste
- Add the cooked lentils, 2 cups water (or till the consistency is right) and 2 tsp butter (if using)
- Continue cooking on med/high heat for 5 mins then serve!