Recreating a Tibetan and Mongolian meal in the Highgate Yurt last night was not easy. I spent months researching, emailing, tweeting, asking around for tsampa and yak milk. I wrote to London Zoo asking if they would mind milking their yaks for me. They replied that they didn't have any yaks. Is it the sea level altitude in London? Is this not a cosmopolitan city? On the tsampa front I was luckier, I came across a website and went to visit Tashi at his home in the East End of London...he comes from the glamorous warrior like 'Khampa' tribe, and in my head I nominated him the title of 'cockney khampa'.
Vegetable wrapped sushi
Mongolian Peanuts:This recipe, apparently authentic, called for the peanuts to be boiled then simmered in star anise and Sichuan pepper for 12 hours, then roasted and then fried. To me they still tasted like normal peanuts (a Mongolian joke perhaps?) but guests pronounced them the best peanuts they have ever eaten!!Tsampa bowl: Tashi explained that you melt some butter in hot tea, then mix it with tsampa and grated cheese which you mush together with your fingers. You then pour tea over the top of the tsampa at the bottom of the bowl. A Tibetan delicacy is to wait until the tsampa forms a crust and then lick it off with your tongue.
Stuffed with Cavolo Nero, ricotta and mushrooms
Momos, steamed and fried.
Fried noodles (plum buckwheat) with bok choi and lotus root
Another Mongolian recipe: Grilled leeks on skewers, done on an ingenious little barbecue called an Ozpig.
Seared tuna steaks.
Daikon and celeriac salad
Mongolian hot pot with corn, beans and mushrooms cooked in a Dutch oven, which give unique flavour to food. Often hung on a tripod over a fire or can be placed on top of the fire where the shape of the lid enables the cook to also heap charcoal on top. Dutch ovens were used by American settlers, on the Great Western cattle drives and were passed down from generation. They were incredibly valuable and it was considered a great honour to inherit one. I've been reading the Little House in the Prairie books and they carried a Dutch oven on their wagon. An essential bit of kit if you are settling a new continent.
Cheeses being passed round on what became known as the 'cheese canoe'
Matcha pannacotta with chocolate dipped physallisOolong teas from Jingtea. I'm becoming addicted to their Iron Buddha Oolong. The difference in taste between proper whole leaf tea and the factory floor shavings we get in our teabags is incredible.
The last guests left at 2 am.