High table at Munsiyari: Rajma salad for the summer lunch : The Tribune India

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High table at Munsiyari: Rajma salad for the summer lunch

Rajma salad can be a refreshingly light summer lunch or side dish at dinner time

High table at Munsiyari: Rajma salad for the summer lunch

Rajma salad - ISTOCK



Pushpesh Pant

The high-altitude valley of Munsiyari nestles under the shadow of the majestic Panchachuli mountains. The five snow-capped peaks appear piercing the sky and cast a mesmerising spell on the onlookers. Legend has it that these are snow-crested remnants of the stove that Draupadi set up to cook for her five husbands — the Pandav princes — as they ascended the tortuous trail to the heavens.

An event to be held here later this month promises to be an ode to foraged foods. Guest chefs at the festival include Ashwin Martin from Goa, who believes in treating his guests with dishes created in line with the farm-to-fork philosophy, and Nilza Wangmo of Alchi Kitchen, who has single-handedly put Ladakhi cuisine on the global gourmet map.

The ‘white heat’ multi-hand menu on offer includes many tantalising improvisations like wok-tossed arbi, fiddlehead fern with roasted dry coconut kismur, bathua, methi and horseradish pakoda kadhi, wild mushroom ragout, pan-seared fish with beurre blanc (the classic French sauce), BBQ lamb with wildberry, buckwheat and vegetable biryani and creamy ‘chilli bomb’ jimbu sauce. And, who can do without millets after these have been designated as shree ann?

There will be platefuls of millet breads and pancakes. Designer desserts will dazzle the discerning guests from cosmopolitan metropolis: peach tarte Tatin, ragi-crust hisalu tres leches, cheeseboard with honey bar and baker Keith Goyden’s crackers. To be honest, the lavish list has left us more than a little confused. Biryani and zamindoz chicken stick out like impositions; signature dishes from other well-known dining destinations seem gate-crashing into the pristine party.

We have great pleasure in sharing with our readers an unusual recipe from Nilza’s repertoire. It can easily be cooked at home. Munsiyari is renowned for the nutty flavour of its rajma (kidney beans) and that more than makes up for their small size. Rajma has an exalted place in the vegetarian repertoire, but it combines beautifully with meats, too. The tribal communities of trans-border traders have no inhibitions about eating meat and this recipe appears ideal for this culinary confluence.

Rajma is usually consumed as lentil soup, though in recent times, innovative chefs have included it in khichdi and made vegetarian kebabs out of it. It makes for a refreshingly light summer lunch or a side dish at dinner time. If you insist on keeping the recipe strictly vegetarian, you can easily replace the lamb/mutton with paneer or tofu. Let us not forget that from Ladakh to Arunachal, churbi (churpi) hard cheese, prepared from yak milk, is very popular. A variety of hard cheeses is now available in the market and you could add it to this salad.

Rajma salad

Ingredients

Lentils (Bengal gram) 1 cup

Rajma (kidney beans) 1 cup

Lamb stock 1-1/2 cup

Garlic cloves 2

Ground black pepper 1/2 tsp

Lemon juice 1 tsp

Orange zest 1 tsp

Boneless lamb 2 cups (cut into 1-inch cubes)

Red bell pepper 1 (roasted, cut into small pieces)

Chives (thinly sliced) 3 strips

Method

In a medium pan or in a pressure cooker, cook the lentils and beans separately with the lamb stock, salt, pepper and garlic cloves. Pressure cook the lamb cubes with lemon juice, orange zest, minced garlic and salt. When it’s done, drain the stock both from the lamb and the lentils. Arrange a green platter and mound the lentil mixture and lamb cubes on it. Garnish it with roasted bell peppers, chives and some more orange zest.


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