In the Himalayan foothills, Helen Anderson walks among remote villages and rhododendron forests.
The butler dispatches the ball with the accuracy of Zaheer Khan. The Tibetan chef smiles – he’s always smiling – as he wields the hand-whittled bat like a meat cleaver. He attempts a slog-sweep, misses entirely and the three wonky stumps teeter.
This is no reflection of the chef’s skill, for no one, least of all the batsman, can actually see the ball, fashioned from a couple of men’s socks. The sun is slipping behind the snow-capped Great Himalayan Range and the pitch is illuminated weakly by a rising moon. The temperature is plummeting, but the Leti XI, as I call them, play on with Indian intensity. Only the two Australian fielders are shivering.
“Tasting India” by Australian Chef Christine Manfield (incredible pictures by Anson Smart), has recently been published by Penguin Books. Christine travelled the length and breadth of India over a stretch of 6 years, researching and compiling the recipes and travel stories on India – and Shakti is so proud to have played a small part in that process. Christine spent time at Shakti 360° Leti with Yeshi (our very own talented chef) and the team sharing recipes and ideas – and also travelled with Shakti in Ladakh and Sikkim, weaving her magic spell wherever she went! Christine’s understanding of both India and the people of this country, along with her disarming charm and an intuitive understanding of how to cook with Asian spices, all combine to make this really one of the most beautiful and insightful books on India.
YESHI’S SAMOSAS WITH TAMARIND CHUTNEY
Yeshi showed me how to make these pastries one afternoon in the kitchen at 360° Leti. This Indian staple made a welcome snack most afternoons.
500 g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon slat
1 teaspoon melted ghee, cooled
½ teaspoon ajwain
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
2 cups (440 g) mashed potato, cooled
1 clove garlic, minced
2 small green chillies, minced
1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
1 tablespoon roasted peanuts, chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon melted ghee
100 ml Tamarind Liquid*
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon chili powder
*The most refined way to use tamarind is to make tamarind liquid, extracting maximum flavour without the coarse, fibrous texture of the pulp. Simmer 1 part of tamarind pulp to 3 parts of water for 30 minutes or so, then pass pulp and water through a coarse-meshed or conical sieve. Discard the fibre and seeds. If the tamarind liquid seems too thick or paste like, stir in a little extra water. Refrigerate for up to 1 month.
Serve hot with tamarind chutney.
The women of Leh are such-
that one night over there, some 3,600 metres
high, not far from Tibet,
where the Zanskar glitters all day,
and at night, the stars, not to be outdone,
seem to grow larger, let themselves sink down closer
to the mountains- while the moon always disappears
by midnight, cut off by the horizon,
always on the other side
of some huge rock-one night
in that place I dreamt
and I saw Gertrude Stein selling
horseradishes and carrots. There was no mistaking
those shoulders- but she fit in so well
with her looking- straight- at- you eyes.
And yet, even the traditional
Ladakhi hat she wore could not disguise
her face. She said jooley to my jooley
with the others, all lined up along the main street-
she slapped the head of a hungry dzo
and I walked back, several times, back and forth,
pretending I couldn’t decide what to buy.
Then she turned aside to talk with the tomato seller,
Still keeping an eye on the dzo- it was hard to believe
but there was no mistaking that poise.
- “The Women of Leh Are Such” from Point No Point by Sujata Bhatt
Hearing the hypnotic chanting of morning prayers at Thiksey Monastery, rafting the exhilarating rapids of Zanskar River, walking through the picturesque villages of Stok and Likhir, hunting for souvenirs in Leh Bazaar… Shakti travelers reveled in all this and much more during another fulfilling and unforgettable season in Ladakh.