South Sikkim Food Journey/Bhutia cuisine in Kewzing | Organic Temi Tea Garden Visit

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South Sikkim Food Journey/Bhutia cuisine in Kewzing | Organic Temi Tea Garden Visit

The bridge that we just crossed…After crossing the bridge we have come to East Sikkim from North Sikkim The east Sikkim part is crossed and on crossing this river we are heading towards south Sikkim We started our South Sikkim’s Journey at 11 am from Dzongu We have entered South Sikkim via East Sikkim This was the last bridge that we just crossed We don’t know how many waterfalls, bridges and villages have we crossed in order to reach here The weather is very pleasant. It is raining We are at Sherwani. Here we will have a quick lunch and then move on to our next stop Very tasty The taste is just like home cooked food Is this the roots of squash? -It is the leaves Leaves of squash and beans Hmm Ashish it has started raining heavily? How will we go? No problem sir Let’s see if it intensifies we will have to stay somewhere Accidents are prone during rains Yes there is a threat of landslides and falling trees The chicken is very tasty It is the country chicken, the local one that we also call free range chicken As I said, the food is quite basic. There is rice, dal along with potatoes with leaves of the squash plant, chicken curry and four kinds of pickles Its raining heavily outside Ashis was telling that how dangerous it is during such weather conditions Trees falls from the slope and there are landslides So we will see if we can move ahead. If not then we will stay back The rain isn’t stopping at all Ashis is telling that it will get dark in sometimes so we should start at the earliest Yes it won’t be a matter of tension if we start early Because when it rains at night there is a threat of trees coming down, there is rockslides and these are not visible So let’s keep going till its night time -Come on let’s go Tell us about this tea garden

As far as I know, Temi Tea Estate was established in 1969 And in 2008 it received the organic status That the tea produced here is hundred percent organic So what is the difference between the tea grown here and at other places? Actually organic means like mostly cow dung is used as manure No chemical fertilizer like Urea and all are added Earlier it was used. But since 2008 it has been stopped In my opinion, organic means that the tea is grown using natural means tea can be cultivated at numerous places like Darjeeling, Assam etc And there is a difference in the tastes -Yes there is difference in taste and benefits as well So organic means Bio fertilizers are used like cow dungs, cattle manure etc All these things are used like neem cakes. They all come under the category bio fertilizer We also use the decomposed leaves collected from the jungles And for how many seasons are the tea cultivated The total cultivation period of tea is for 9 months After these nine months, during October and November we have an off season Plucking happens but in less quantity So here too we have four seasons like the first flush, second flush, third flush and fourth flush So we have spring, summer, monsoon and autumn. Plucking takes place in all these four seasons Now its the Autumn season It seems that due to rains people aren’t plucking any more Plucking is happening but in less amount This one has been plucked The tea is specially made from this One bud and two leaves Especially this one And this this is processed to obtain tea This is the Orthodox tea -Yes You take it like this and crush it lightly Now you blow into it like with full power you have to blow air into it right sir It has a very strong aroma You have to inhale it Wow that’s great It has a very strong aroma. It is of which season? It is mostly of the third flush Hmm Wow How is the tea ? This is the actual way of having tea We generally don’t add milk to this It has such a fruity taste that you don’t need to add milk to it An it has this orange colour Thank you sir Come. It has again started to rain Like in one day you have shown us so many weather conditions sunshine, rain, winter, fog etc This is the zone of falling stones -yes sir Anytime, stones and rocks can come falling down Yes its a narrow road and on top of that rocks and stones can come rolling down the hill at anytime The visibility has become zero

There is dense fog on both sides Now we have reached Ravangla. The visibility was totally zero Ashis drove us here very steadily We have to cover another 17 km after which we will reach Kewzing Welcome to Lungchok Farm -Thank You we are late in arriving Ya I thought you will be here by 2 o’ Clock We started at 11 o’ clock i the morning from Dzongu And then it rained heavily on the way Ya and the road conditions were also not that good This is Churpi -Okay. So how is the Churpi prepared exactly? We first churn the curd. The butter comes out after churning After the butter comes out we boil this, what we call it in Hindi? We drink it as well? -Chaas or buttermilk You boil the buttermilk and you get the cheese And this is slightly sour in taste Not very sour, if it is fresh it is nice But if you keep the curd for sometimes then it becomes sour This is This is the wild orchid It is very nutritious they say And this is very expensive as well Yes it is 300 rupees per kilo right now But later on it becomes cheaper But it is very healthy and nutritious What else we have This is not Nettle but Nettle flower Flower of the Nettle. We make soup out of this Nettle is this. The leaves. These are the flower of the Nettle So we are making soup out of it yes This is called Khapse We have made these yesterday especially for you All taste the same? -Yes have you tried it? I haven’t. This is the first time I am trying it Some people they put sugar. Some people they keep it plain This is with sugar -This has little sugar Because our people don’t take much sugar Wow -So this is the snacks which we offer with tea We started this homestay in the year 2014 Otherwise before that, unofficially people used to come Officially after I retired, I started it So you used to work with Sikkim Tourism department What was your job profile there I was looking after publicity and information And for the last few years I was looking at the administration of West Sikkim West District Sikkim has huge tourism potential But this place is quite untouched and raw in terms of other tourism spots of India The Khapsey could be savoury as well -Yes You can put salt if you want It is like an equivalent of the North Indian Mathi But this is better than Mathi Wow so good I think I like the first one more without onions and tomatoes because the onions and tomatoes add a bit of sweetness to the Gyuma So this casing is of pork intestine and that is the mince with chimping and chillies and onions No onions just pork And semolina -Yes little bit of semolina

We have to let the air out by pressing it They will cook when I boil it After making this we have to boil this for at least 20 min to half an hour So this Gyuma can be barbecued as well -Yes Instead of boiling you have to straight away barbecue it or boil it first -You boil it first and then barbecue it So we will boil this for twenty minutes And when it is cooked you can preserve it for some times And if you smoke it you can keep it for ten days or a week If you want to eat it plain then you just have to boil it in water and cut into pieces If not you have to fry it with onion or what ever you like Or you can barbecue it So this is plum wine That’s the fruit So you have to sip it or take it in one go It is really strong So this is three years aged plum very sour So you can make more wine out of it or it is done Bhutias are We have Lepcha, Bhutia and Nepalese these three communities Nepalese are like quite ahead of us We are tribes here so we are less in population Bhutias are more progressive than Lepchas Maybe Bhutias have got a little Tibetan blood you know And in a Bhutia community if anything happens, all are united. Even the lepchas We have intermarriage between Lepchas and Bhutia There is no difference between us Gyuma, Pork sausages wild orchid Nettle flower soup. Tomato and onion chutney Squash So should we start with the soup first Offering to God before eating Like they do Che Che Che -Yes In this you have added ghee -Yes Wow it is so flavourful -Yes it is homemade. We made it this evening This Nettle flower soup is grainy Hmm These wild orchids grow only in the month of September, October, this time of the year It doesn’t last long The texture is very similar to corn but it tastes like bitter gourd

But I am sure it will be very nutritious similar to bitter gourd I really liked this one. It is excellent It is better than the Stinging Nettle Soup Because Nettle soup was bland But this has lots of flavours Someone was telling me in Sikkim No one can go to bed hungry Because Squash is so widely available If nothing is available then squash is there Squash is one vegetable, we eat shoot first then the fruit comes. And then in the winter we eat the roots So everything is consumed In terms of biodiversity Sikkim is quite rich -Yes Maybe we have less population The food was really good I liked everything specially Gyuma I think the best Gyuma I have ever had All purpose flour, sugar Little bit of sugar and little bit of ghee It is like artist at work It is such intricately made I still can’t make it. Even the simplest one I can’t make It needs a lot of practice During our festival we make snacks like this So we used to make twenty kg. We used to stay awake whole night. We used to be so excited So we are at Lungchok farmstay And mam has cooked huge breakfast for us We have avocado, kiwi, Phaley bread, Aloo dum Yoghurt, Khapse cookies, smoked pork and honey Is this the regular breakfast you serve at the farmstay So some people just have breakfast and they don’t have lunch It is not a breakfast and it is like a brunch for me The bread is so soft And fluffy And this ghee adds a different flavour to it The word Phaley itself means flat bread The texture is very similar to fluffy naan I can eat Phaley whole my life It is not heavy also The ghee that we usually have is more grainy

Very delicious flavours Thank you mam for serving us such a huge breakfast Everything was amazing It is hard to pick one dish Everything was good but I loved Phaley with pure ghee. It was really amazing This shows that how the plants are interdependent on each other They support each other You see the plantation on the tree So my husband believes in natural farming. He doesn’t believe in organic farming or stuffs like that If you ask him he will say that he is natural farmer So he believes in natural farming So it is not a particular plant which is there or something like that So next to the peach there is a plum tree and they support each other This is dragon fruit So this is the citrus root stocks that we have So when it grows you can graft it These are orchids This is the hottest chillies in Sikkim Are there any specific plants or fruits indigenous to Sikkim Large Cardamom Even oranges We used to have lots of oranges. This used to be an orange orchid It is about 15 years ago But the oranges started dying Maybe because new things were introduced here So it started dying and we turned it into another farm This is the fodder for the cow What kind of leaves are these? -This is fig leaves Oh that are the sausages, Gyuma It is smoking It is smoked after boiling it Green house

These are cardamom trees Buddha’s Belly It is sacred -It is auspicious they say if you keep it at home This is tobacco If you go to any monasteries here, you will have these three statues Guru Rimpoche, Guru Padmasamvava in the left And Buddha in the middle And our Avalokitesvara Mam your farmhouse is very beautiful like your farmstay and the best part is that everything is self sustained We got to taste the food that is so pure Without any adulteration. It is really good Thank You Ashis where are we going next? We are going to a new heritage retreat in South Sikkim It is in the Barfum district What is so special over there? Let’s go and see. It is a very nice place It has again began to drizzle