THE LHASA MOON TIBETAN COOKBOOK

By Tsering Wangmo and Zara Houshmand
Illustrated by Palden Choedak Oshoe, Zara Houshmand, Sidney Piburn, Matthew Roberts, and Alison Wright

Snow Lion Publications

Copyright © 1999 Tsering Wangmo and Zara Houshmand. All rights reserved.
ISBN: 1-55939-104-9



Chapter One


Cheese Soup

Churu


The mixture of hot chili with the pungent, mold-ripened churu cheese, after which the soup is named, is a uniquely Tibetan combination of flavors. Blue cheese makes a good substitute for churu.

    This recipe is popular in the region of Kongpo, where it is usually eaten for breakfast with tsampa dough.


INGREDIENTS:

1/2 onion, chopped
oil for frying
1 tomato
1 jalapeño chili
2 tablespoons blue cheese or Churu, page 118
1/4 lb. chopped beef
1/4 teaspoon paprika (optional)
1/4 teaspoon garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground emma (Sichuan pepper)
5 cups water
1/4 cup cornstarch


Fry the onion in oil till brown and soft. Add the paprika, garlic, and ginger and fry briefly. Add the meat, stirring constantly, and then add the chili just before the meat is fully cooked. Turn the heat down low and add the cheese. When the cheese has melted, add the tomato and water. Mix the cornstarch in a little extra water (about 1/4 cup) and pour it into the soup while stirring. Bring to the boil while stirring and remove from the heat as soon as the soup has thickened slightly.


Roasted Potato Soup (*)

Shogo Tang


This soup is best when the potatoes are roasted in the ashes of the cooking fire. You can reproduce the smoky flavor by broiling the potatoes until they are slightly charred. Don't use a blender or the mixture will be gummy.


INGREDIENTS:

3 potatoes (use large waxy potatoes or smallish
baking potatoes)
1 tablespoon butter
1 inch fresh ginger, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4-5 dried red chilies, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground emma (Sichuan pepper)
4-5 cups water, broth, or Tibetan tea
1 green onion, chopped


Broil the potatoes until brown and slightly charred, turning once. This will take about 40 minutes. When they are done, and cool enough to handle, peel them and chop the skins.

    Fry the garlic, ginger, chili, and emma together in butter in a soup pot. Add the potatoes and chopped potato skins, and mash them with the spices, adding the liquid gradually. The potatoes should be slightly chunky. Heat thoroughly, stirring to prevent sticking.

    Sprinkle chopped green onion on each serving.


Roasted Eggplant Soup (*)

Duluma Jen


Eggplant does not grow in Tibet, but it is very common in India. This recipe, from the Tibetan settlement at Bylakuppe in southern India, shows how traditional cooking methods have been adapted for the unfamiliar produce found by the Tibetans in exile. Very similar in technique to the traditional Shogo Tang (Roasted Potato Soup, page 23), the smoky flavor suits the eggplant very well and stands up to the fierce heat of the chilies. "We sweat when we eat this!" says Tsering, who uses half a cup of chili for four people, but a more subtle version with less chili is also very good.


INGREDIENTS:

3-4 Japanese eggplants, or 1 large globe eggplant
1 tablespoon butter
I inch fresh ginger, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4-5 dried red chilies, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground emma (Sichuan pepper)
1 tomato
4-5 cups water, broth, or Tibetan tea
1 green onion, chopped


Cut Japanese eggplant in half lengthwise or globe eggplant in 1/2-inch slices. Brush the cut sides with a little melted butter. Broil until brown and slightly charred, turning once.

    Remove the charred skins from the eggplant and grind the flesh briefly in a blender or mortar and pestle. If you use a blender, add 1 cup of the water, broth, or tea to blend easily. It is best if still slightly lumpy, with a few flecks of skin remaining.

    Fry the garlic, ginger, chili, and emma together in butter in a soup pot. Chop the tomato and add it to the fried mixture along with the eggplant. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining liquid and heat through.

    Sprinkle chopped green onion on each serving.


Corn Soup (*)

Ashom Tang


Corn soup is popular in Dharamsala, served with slight variations at many of the cafes and restaurants that cater to travelers in this colorful mountain town that is the heart of the Tibet community in exile.


INGREDIENTS:

1/2 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 square (12 oz.) firm tofu
3 cobs fresh corn and 1 tablespoon cornstarch,
      or 1 15-oz. can creamed corn and 1/2 cup frozen
      (or canned) whole kernel corn, drained
4 cups water
1 green onion, chopped


Sauté the onion in butter or oil in a soup pot until brown and soft. Add the paprika, garlic, and ginger and cook briefly. Add the tomato and the tofu, cut into small cubes, along with the water. If using fresh corn, cut it from the cob and add it to the pot, along with the cornstarch mixed in a little extra water. If using canned and/or frozen corn, add them both now. Bring to a boil, and simmer for a minute, stirring to prevent sticking.

    Sprinkle chopped green onion on each serving.


Milarepa's Nettle Soup (*)

Sabtuk


The story of the twelfth-century saint Milarepa holds a special place in the hearts of Tibetans. Wronged by greedy relatives, he studied magic to wreak vengeance. The effect was so spectacularly successful that remorse moved him to seek enlightenment, suffering endless ordeals to prove his devotion to his teacher. His legacy includes the hundreds of Dharma poems that he composed extemporaneously, still sung today with the simple and powerful beauty of folksongs.

    Milarepa's ascetic practices included a diet of nettles, remembered in this soup from western Tibet. The toxin that causes nettles to sting is destroyed by cooking. The leaves are rich in iron and vitamin C, and also contain protein.

    In Dharamsala, if you wake up early you might see elderly women using small metal tongs of scissors to pick nettles by the roadside, choosing the smallest, most tender leaves from the top of the plant. Early morning is the best time, of course, to avoid running into neighbors who turn up their noses at the idea of eating weeds.


INGREDIENTS:

6 cups broth or water
1 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground emma (Sichuan pepper)
1 lb. nettle leaves
salt to taste


Boil the broth or water with the ginger, garlic, and emma. Fill another pot with water and bring it to the boil. Dump the nettles into the boiling water to blanche them for a moment. Remove from the heat and immediately drain the nettles, squeezing out any excess water. Chop the greens and add them to the spiced broth. Let it boil again for a few minutes and add salt to taste.


Excerpted from THE LHASA MOON TIBETAN COOKBOOK by Tsering Wangmo and Zara Houshmand. Copyright © 1999 by Tsering Wangmo and Zara Houshmand. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.