Delicious delicacies of Darjeeling

Food can make or break a beautiful holiday. My recent holiday in Darjeeling turned out to be absolutely delightful thanks to Sterling Darjeeling, whose everyday buffet menus competed with those of their À la carte menus both in the choice and taste. The hard work of eight chefs (working round the clock) is augmented by the congeniality of the courteous staff, which makes the guest feel totally at home.

The moment I landed, I received a call and was pleasantly surprised to hear someone speak in Telugu: it was Rajesh, their F&B Manager calling to inquire what kind of food I preferred: I said I wanted to explore mostly the local food. Thus, started my gastronomic journey on the foothills of Himalayas, predictably with Momos and Thukpa. But it was soon followed by Mooli Chicken (radish chicken), the outstanding local dish that I fell in love with! In the next day's large spread of breakfast, I was bowled over by the 'bedmi poories'. Coupled with aloo-matar curry, they proved novel and superior to the regular fare what with the besan component adding to the protein value and reducing the carb guilt. That day's lunch took me totally by surprise: Konaseema fish pulusu, boondi curry, alu fry and rasam. I didn't expect to find authentic cuisine from coastal Andhra featured up north in the hills. Although idli, vada, dosa, etc are quite common across India. That afternoon I sat with Rajesh to further explore the surprising variety of food served in the resort. His long experience in Sterling Dindi (in East Godavari, Andhra Pradesh) and other resorts resulted in a fusion of cuisines: taking the best elements of different cuisines and blending them.

Here are a few delectable recipes from the local Gorkha cuisine: easy to make and great to savour!

Khukura ra mulako tarkari (Chicken curry with radish)

Ingredients:

  • Chicken: 400 Grams (leg pieces preferably with skin)
  • Onion: 50 Grams chopped
  • Tomato: 50 Grams chopped
  • Radish: 100 Grams (cut like French fries)
  • Ginger & Garlic Paste: 5 Grams
  • Turmeric Powder: 1 Teaspoon
  • Chilli Powder: 1 Teaspoon
  • Coriander Leaves: few leaves
  • Green Chillies: 2 (Slit them into two)
  • Mustard Oil: 20 ml
  • Salt: To taste

Method:

  • Take a pan and add 20 ml mustard oil.
  • Add green chillies, onions and sauté them till the onions become translucent.
  • Add ginger- garlic Paste
  • Add chicken & radish
  • Add turmeric powder and mix all the ingredients together.
  • Cook them on a slow fire for 5 minutes and add chilli powder.
  • Add enough water, salt and cook them on low heat for 20 minutes.
  • Check if radish is cooked and adjust salt.
  • The chicken curry is ready. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with hot steamed rice.

Thukpa

Ingredients:

  • Capsicum -25 Grams
  • Carrot-25 grams
  • Cabbage-10 Grams
  • Ginger-5 Grams
  • Vegetable Stock- 500 ml
  • Spring Onion-10 gram
  • Noodle-100 grams
  • Onion-25 grams
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • All the vegetables to be cut into fine juliennes
  • Take a pan with 500 ml stock water and add the noodles and boil.
  • Once the stock turns cloudy, add juliennes of capsicum, carrot, cabbage and ginger.
  • Once vegetables are blended well add salt.
  • Garnish with Spring onions and fine juliennes of onions.
  • Serve Hot.

Patti Sapta (Coconut Pancake)

Ingredients for the Pancake:

  • Refined Flour- 100 Grams
  • Semolina: 20 Grams
  • Sugar: 10 Grams
  • Salt: a pinch
  • Cooking Soda: a pinch
  • Water: to make it into batter consistency

Ingredients stuffing:

  • Grated coconut: 250 grams
  • Jaggery: 150 grams
  • Ghee: 20 grams
  • Cardamom powder: 10 grams

Method (Pancake):

  • Add all the ingredients mentioned and make into a thin batter; let it rest for half an hour.
  • On a hot non-stick griddle pour the batter as thin as possible.
  • Cook on one side and remove.

Method for stuffing:

  • In a pan add ghee, coconut and jaggery, cook them till they blend, add the cardamom powder and remove.
  • Keep the stuffing in the middle of pancake and roll and cut it into two.
  • Garnish with Rabdi or chocolate sauce as per your choice.
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