A Ladakhi / Tibetan pasta soup.
In the cold, nearly desert-like conditions of Ladakh, India, there are few vegetables available, and the meat is Yak or lamb meat. As in most Western countries, a warm filling soup, makes a simple meal, fulfilling and satiating, to combat the cold. Chutagi is ideal for winter and autumn.
Sometime in the 1980s I tasted Chutagi in Nepal, and later again in the 1990s in Kalimpong, cooked by a Tibetan eatery. The old notes on these recipes are yet lovingly stored by me, as is my habit with most dishes I have found exciting. What enamours me about Chutagi, is the fresh whole wheat pasta (Chu) which is silky and tasty due to it being cooked in a rich delicious broth (tagi)!
How to make the pasta: The whole wheat dough, which is lightly flavoured with green chili, is rolled out, and cut in small circles. Two ends are pinched, slightly overlapping each other, to form a tube. The ends of the tube are brought together and pinched on the top in the middle again to look like two cups snuggling next to each other.
While cooking Chutagi, the meat, and vegetables are cooked together to create a rich broth, then the pasta is cooked in it for 5-7 minutes before serving. You can use beef or lamb meat, but make sure to include some bones for a rich broth.
The secret flavouring ingredient in this soup is Timut pepper, if unavailable use the Chinese Szechuan pepper, they are similar, though the Timut pepper has a more minty sharpness.
My Chutagi variation: I have refined the process of cooking Chutagi soup similar to how I cook Western soups. I add some vegetables cut in the tiniest of cubes and sauté them to bring out the flavours and sweetness, this along with the meat bones make a rich, delicious broth. Unlike traditional Chutagi recipe, I add chunky pieces of the same vegetables halfway during the cooking, to retain a bite in my vegetables, and not end up with a mushy mouthfeel.
Spinach or chopped scallions (spring onions) can be added at the end for a touch of jewel-like green elements. An option is to use both turnips and radish, or just one of it.
Do not get intimidated because the recipe looks long. The steps are simple. Your pasta is prepared while the soup is cooking.
|For the Soup:|
|2-3 tbsp of oil|
|400g stewing beef or lamb cut into 2 x 2 cm cubes|
|100g meat bones- marrow-bones, shin, brisket, or neck|
|1 large onion- cut in quarters, then across into large cubes|
|3 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped|
|1 tsp cumin seeds|
|1 green chili – remove seeds if you wish, cut into pieces|
|6-8 Timut/ Szechuan peppers without the black seeds|
|1 heaped cupful of mixed vegetables, cut in very tiny cubes- carrots, turnips and/or radish|
|2 large tomatoes, skin removed and chopped in small cubes (or from a tin)|
|1.2 l hot water|
|1 large potato- peeled & cut in quarters|
|1 large carrot- cut in 2cm thick rounds|
|2 turnips- peeled and cut in quarters|
|200g white radish, peeled and cut into 2 cm thick rounds|
|Salt & black pepper to taste|
|For the Pasta:|
|¾ cup whole wheat flour|
|1 green chilli made into a paste & soaked in ½ cup water, strain the mixture and retain the water|
|¼ tsp salt|
|1 tsp oil|
|Garnish/ to finish|
|1 cup Chopped spinach & 1/2 cup green onions (optional)|
|1-2 tablespoons of soya sauce|
A Ladakhi / Tibetan pasta soup. In the cold, nearly desert-like conditions of Ladakh, India, there are few vegetables available, and the meat is Yak or lamb meat. As in most Western countries, a warm filling soup, makes a simple meal, fulfilling and satiating, to combat the cold. Chutagi is ideal for winter and autumn....
|1.||First prepare the soup.|
|2.||Crush the cloves of garlic with the green chilli, cumin/ jeera, black pepper, Timut or Szechuan pepper and salt. Make a coarse paste.|
|3.||Season meat with salt & pepper|
|4.||Heat the oil in a soup pan.|
|5.||Add the onions, sauté till just about transparent.|
|6.||Add the garlic, chilli, pepper paste & sauté for a few seconds on low heat.|
|7.||Add the finely chopped vegetables and sauté for about 3-4 mins.|
|8.||Add tomatoes & stir to cook till they are soft.|
|9.||Add meat and the bones, sauté till the meat changes colour.|
|10.||Add hot water, salt and pepper.|
|11.||Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer to cook.|
|12.||After 30 minutes, add the chunky vegetables and potatoes.|
|13.||Cook till the meat is done. Adjust salt & pepper.|
|14.||Transfer the soup to a wide pan or wok. Remove the bones.|
|15.||Make the pasta while the soup is cooking:|
|16.||Add salt and green chilli water to the whole wheat flour and knead it, adding water as you need.|
|17.||Knead the dough well to make a firm but soft dough. Smear with some oil, cover and rest for 15 mins.|
|18.||On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 3-4 mm thick and cut out 4 cm circles.|
|19.||Join the sides of each circle, overlapping a bit of the edges to form a tube. Press to bind.|
|20.||With your index & thumb, pull and join the two ends of the tube in the middle to form a double- cup like pasta.|
|21.||Bring the soup in the wide pan to boil, add the pasta, simmer to cook, about 5-7 mins, and keep the broth at soup consistency.|
|22.||Towards the end of cooking, add the some roughly chopped spinach and spring onions & some soya sauce.|
|23.||Serve the soup warm, add coriander to garnish if you wish.|
|24.||TIP: you can cook the entire soup with the chunky vegetables added in a pressure cooker. After pressure is registered, lower heat and cook for 20 mins. Open the pressure cooker, when cooled a bit. Add the pasta and cook 5 -7 minutes, till the pasta is done.|
roll out dough 3-4 mm thick
Pinch 2 edges to make a tube, pinch two ends of the tube to make this double cup