In the harsh landscape of a rocky terrain, there lies Ladakh, quaint and quiet, calling India’s highest plateau its home, as it calls itself the “land of high passes”. Lying between the Himalayas and the Karakorum mountain ranges in Jammu and Kashmir, it seems isolated, consisting of empty plains, a cold desert and steep passes. But, as you advance towards it, you’ll find Buddhist prayer flags and prayer wheels in varying colours, adorning the many monasteries and stupas that dot the area.
Most city folk tend to think of mountain and hilltop residents as sedentary and laidback. They’re in a cocoon, far away from the hustle and bustle of a hectic city life. But, there is no reason to accept that at face value – after all, there are still chores to be done, jobs to attend to, and food to be eaten. And whilst chores and jobs are mundane, wouldn’t cuisine from the top of the world taste heavenly, when you think about it? And then shouldn’t we in the city, make a hearty meal of it. After all, you may not be able to visit the land, but that shouldn’t stop you from indulging in its culinary delicacies!
Being geographically isolated, Ladakhi cuisine is unique. The people are self-sufficient, rearing livestock and cultivating the few crops that can withstand the harsh weather. While pumpkin, potato, beans and beetroot are popular, barley is the staple – used in tsampa bread, or for dumpling wraps. You’ll also taste it in chhang, a local, homemade beer. Since you’re in the cold climes, most dishes include ingredients that provide energy, nutrition and heat to the body, resulting in soups, nuts and spices becoming the focus of meals.
As all chefs are wont to do, Ladakhi cooks will alter quantities to meet requirements. You may have an extra dose of dry fruits and spices for a dish that is full of flavour and aroma, with mutton or chicken. With staples like barley and wheat used in tsampa to chhang, and wheat to create variety of momos and spaetzle-like pasta for soups.
Tread through a Ladhaki expedition with a delightful spread of flavourful delicacies, plated to perfection by Master Chef Angmo, and indulge in the likes of tingmo, butter tea, thukpa and momos prepared with the choicest of herbs. Delight in this special cuisine, as ITC Gardenia hosts a Ladhaki Feast at Cubbon Pavilion from November 11-16.