Monday, February 28, 2011

How to Make Tea Momos [This entry goes out to Becca]

Often in this blog I have praised cheese momos, a Bhutanese dish somewhat like perogis. Today our good friends Dawa Dema and Jimmie taught us to prepare a related dish called tea momos. The closest Canadian equivalent to tea momos are not perogis but my Aunt Leela's famous "dough boys." Like dough boys, tea momos are served with thin beef stew. Note: here stew is called "curry" even when it does not contain any of the spices that Canadians think of as curry spices.

To prepare authentic Bhutanese tea momos the authentic Bhutanese way, begin by moving your cooking utensils from the counter to floor. Sit cross-legged and gather your friends and family. Forget the idea that "too many cooks spoil the broth"; this is a social activity:

Place a heap of flour in a mixing bowl:

Add baking powder, about one big spoonful of it for each big bowlful of flour:

Add water and mix by hand. If ever it is uncomfortably sticky, add more flour: 

Knead until it feels like pizza dough:

Break off enough to roll into the size and shape of a snooker ball:

Get out your rolling pin and your adorable little wooden table with stub legs:

Roll the snooker ball until it is about the thickness of a loonie and just less than the area of your adorable table: 

Fold the far end toward you such that about 2 cm is doubled over:

Flip the whole thing over. Take the same section of dough that you have just folded and fold it again, this time away from you. Repeat this process for the entire length of the dough. The end result should be one long shape made thick with folding:

Now twist the long piece. I find it helpful to sing the dance hit from Love Aaj Kal:

"And we twist and we twist and we twist and we twist...":

Now tie it into a knot:

It may not be as easy as it looks:

Place your creation on a steaming tray. Make many more. Steam for fifteen minutes. The coolest cookware is designed so that your steam tray attaches to the top of your soup pot. That way, boiling your curry cooks the momos that go with them. 

To eat your momos, tear off a piece and dip it in your curry:

They are absolutely lovely:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Beautiful in Both Directions: Lunch at Devi Maya's

My fellow teacher Madam Devi Maya, invited William and I to her home for lunch. Because her husband is a doctor, she lives on the hospital grounds. We had never been to that part of town before and didn't quite know the way. We ended up taking a winding cattle path over pristine farmland:

Hay is always kept aloft, often in trees:

Eventually, we reached the hospital:

And met Devi's talkative three-year-old son:

Below we see the slippery slopes to card games on motorcycles:

Devi served us rice, a flavourful mixture of spinach, onions, chilis, and peas in thin cheese, spicy egg soup, and a delightful potato curry. She is a Nepali from the South of Bhutan so her potato curry is fried with tumeric and masala rather than your standard boiled-with-cheese kewa datse.

The spoon she gave me had writing on it that neither she nor either of us could identify. I put the question to my readers: Icelandic? Cuneiform? Elvish?

She laughed at the roundabout traverse we had taken to lunch and showed us the quick route back. It baffled me by being equally beautiful as the trip there:

It brought us up behind Chorten Cora and the tent city that has been set up there. Every year at this time pilgrims come from India side* to express their gratitude to the Indian princess who, three hundred years ago, selflessly volunteered to be buried to death inside the stupa to benefit all sentient beings and save Yangtse from a demon. We have been watching a film version of the legend. How cool is it to see a movie set within sight of your house?

Very soon we were back in the downtown core: home sweet feral-dog-infested home!

* Bhutanese use the word "side" a lot, "from India side" rather than "from India" and "from my side! from my side!" rather than "I'll pay for this round."

Hike at Daybreak

We walked to Bumdeling at six this morning to watch the world wake up:

The sun rose. On the way up the mountain snow was muted pink. On the way down it glistened white:

We looked down over Yangtse as it stirred from a sleepy town's slumber:

You will remember the covered bridge I cross each day on my way to school. The rounded building is the Karmeling hotel cum bakery where we buy bread:

The collection of red roofs is my school:

One the way home we came across a murder of ravens, the national bird. I thought of Mount Saint Vincent:

We were home by 7:45.