Village walks in Himalayas

The Himalayas

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Head for Heights – Helen Anderson – Sydney Morning Herald

Land of the gods ... the remarkable alpine lodge 360? Leti.

Land of the gods ... the remarkable alpine lodge 360° Leti.

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.

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“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.

Christine Manfield's "Tasting India" cookbook


Christine with Shakti head chef Yeshi and Yashpal in the Shakti 360° Leti kitchen



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

1teaspoonminced ginger

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.

  • To make the tamarind chutney, cook the tamarind liquid and sugar together over a medium heat until reduced and thickened – about 10 minutes. Add the salt and chilli powder, stirring to combine. Taste and adjust the ingredients if necessary so each of the flavours in the balance. Set aside until ready to serve.
  • Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda. Salt, ghee and ajwain in a large bowl. Pour in 1 cup (250 ml) warm water and knead until the dough comes together. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, then return the dough to the bowl, cover with a clean cloth and leave to rest for 1 hour.
  • To make the potato stuffing, combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
  • To assemble the samosas, break off 1 tablespoon dough and roll it into a thin, flat, elongated shape on a floured surface. Cur it in half crossways. Rub a little water along the edges, then press together to make a triangular pocket like a cone. Hold it in your hand and fill with potato stuffing until three-quarters full. Wet the top edge, then fold over the flap and press together. Repeat until all the dough and stuffing have been used. Stand the pastries on a plate in a single layer and refrigerate for 1 hour to become firm.
  • Heat the oil in a kadhai or wok (or deep saucepan) to 160°C (no hotter, or the pastries will burn). To test the temperature of the oil, sprinkle in some flour – if the flour sizzles, it is ready. Fry the samosas a few at a time for 4-5 minutes until crisp and golden. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.

Serve hot with tamarind chutney.

Christine shows Yeshi how to prepare a dish in the Shakti 360° Leti kitchen

A breathtaking view from Shakti 360° Leti's dining room

Ramganga Valley

Ramganga Valley

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