mostly about food and cooking, but also the stories about the Bread and the Butterflies!

Ladakh Himalayas: The Nubra Valley

In Road Trip, Tea time Reading, Travel on December 4, 2014 at 8:50 am
hundar 01

Waking up in an apricot orchard!

Day 8, September 6, 2014 Hundar (10km and back!) Pangong Tso became a popular destination after it was featured in the hit 2009 movie 3 Idiots.  Its unparalleled beauty is set amid a landscape very harsh and weather unpredictable.  Given the incessant rains and the gloomy forecast, the lake would have to wait…for the next visit.  This trip, we were getting an extra day in Hundar to spend at leisure – visiting the Nubra Sand Dunes and exploring the Diskit Monastery.  Luckily, we were able to transfer our bookings to Nature’s Nest camp here without losing the deposit.

After breakfast we set out for the Monastery.  It was not raining and it was not windy though the clouds were still hanging low.  We spent a couple of hours walking through the monastery that, like so many others, is like a small village on a hill.  We had landed in the middle of special week-long prayers.  A brightly-coloured fresh mandala made with powdered precious stones was on display in the main prayer hall.  It commemorated the special prayers underway and had taken the monks a week to prepare.  After the conclusion of the prayers, it would be consigned to the waters of the river flowing in the valley below.  Only saints could be this detached from something so beautiful created with so much effort.

Calamondin Caipirinha

In Drinks, From the Garden, Preserves, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on November 21, 2014 at 12:09 am
calamondin caipirinha

Calamondin caipirinha

calamondins

Calamondins

Growing up, I had no idea we could eat this fruit.  There were many bushes on the big mound of the Rose Garden at IIT Delhi.  While playing there in the summer evenings, we would try to avoid the gardeners’ eyes and pluck a few.  They were too sour to really be enjoyed.  One time I and my sister ended up with throats so sore that we never ventured near another narangi.  Sometime back kumquats surfaced on Indian food blogs and I thought maybe the idea needed a rethink.  But no one I knew cooked with them.

A couple of months back we were at Vijay’s cousin’s house for dinner, and his wife, Jyotsna, a fantastic cook, served us narangi pickle made much the same way I make my sweet and sour lime pickle.  The fruit was from the trees her mother-in-law had planted outside their ground floor flat. Even in a mature pickle the fragrance of the fruit was remarkable.  She told me the next crop would be ready soon.  I reserved a portion of the harvest and early this  month I got a call from her that the fruit had been plucked and I’d better collect my share as soon as possible.  I went that very morning – there was no time to waste – and brought home the bounty.

Ladakh Himalayas, Part IV: Leh to Hundar, over Khardungla

In Road Trip, Travel on November 15, 2014 at 12:18 am

Alchi-Leh (2)

Day 6, September 4, 2014
Alchi to Leh (90km, 4 hrs)

Alchi-Leh (1)

Another rainy morning.  The clouds and the incessant rain were getting a bit depressing.  I stepped out thinking maybe I could walk around the village and the monastery before breakfast only to find Anand, the enthusiast photographer, sitting in the veranda looking a bit disappointed.  His mood affected mine and I turned right back in.  I did regret this later when I found out that Alchi is bidding for a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list!  But, honestly, there really was not much we could have done in that rain.

We showered, dressed, and packed up, and walked over to the dining room.  The morning light revealed many laden apricot trees on the plot.  Inside, a nice breakfast awaited us.  The fruits at the table, papaya and watermelon (!), brought joy to many, and we all had many helpings.  There were eggs-to-order, toast, and paranthas. The tea was good and I had many rounds as the rest joined us, one by one, at the table.

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