Archive for August, 2006

Dharamsala India – services

Tuesday, August 8th, 2006

Summit Adventures, Mr Milap Nehria, on main square in Bhagsu, for all travel arrangements,

Sagar High Point Adventure on Bhagsu Rd for overnight sleeper bus to Delhi

Mehra Forex money changer on Temple Rd, in Sahil Plaza – negotiate!

Rita Kapoor’s cooking classes – see separate entry – located on top of the Old German Bakery in Bhagsu.

meditation courses at Asho Institute in Bhagsu, given by Master Hardesh: One three hour session on energy chakras was enlightening and for me, sufficient.

It’s well worth a visit to the Norling Institute, 30 minutes by taxi from Dharamsala, to see how Tibetan arts and culture is being nurtured in workshops and classes. They do have rooms, and the restaurant serves fine food. Showroom prices of crafts are inflated.


Rita Kapoor’s recipes:palak paneer and malai kofta

Saturday, August 5th, 2006

After 2 wonderful sessions in Rita Kapoor’s cooking school in Dharamsala, I can turn out creditable palak paneer and malai kofta. Here are her recipes, which we three participants madly scribbled as we worked, and then corrected as we ate:

Palak Paneer: 4 portions
1/2 kilo spinach, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 onion, chopped fine
cheese mixture: 200 grms ricotta, paneer or tofu; 1 small sharp green pepper, finely chopped; 1 tblsp ginger, finely chopped and 1 tsp fresh garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 peeled tomatoes
1/2 tsp Kitchen King masala spice

Cook spinach in covered pot in water with salt for 15 minutes (till very soft) and drain. Heat oil and when hot, add coriander seeds, wait till black and add chopped onion, cheese mixture, turmeric, peeled tomatoes blended (or in foodprocessor) with spinach and finally masala spice.
Cook, covered, on a low flame for 10 minutes. Serve with chapati or white rice.

Malai Kofta: 4 portions
3 tbsp oil
2 fresh bay leaves
a few crumbs of fresh cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
3 or 4 garlic cloves
1 tblsp ginger
3 peeled tomatoes
4 or 5 cashew nuts (or 2 tblsp pinones or watermelon seeds)
1 cup water
1/2 tsp sharp paprika
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp butter
1 tbsp sour or sweet cream

Heat the oil and when hot, add the bay leaves, cinnamon, cumin seeds.
In blender, mix together the  garlic and ginger with 1/2 cup water and add to hot oil.
In blender, mix tomatoes with nuts and 1 cup water, and add to hot oil. Add the paprikas, turmeric, and salt. Cook for 10 minutes, covered, then add the milk and butter, the curry and the sour or sweet cream.

1 cooked potato
1/2 cup cheese or tofu, grated
11/2 tblsp grated coconut
2 tblsp flour
drop of baking powder
1 tsp butter
raisins and cashews

Mix and knead all ingredients together to egg-shaped forms. With finger, make hole in center of each and insert raisins and cashews. Pinch closed. Fry in deep oil till golden, and drain.
Serve on plate, with sauce on top, add grated cheese and sour cream. 

*Recipes from Rita Kapoor, Dharamsala India August 2006

Dharamsala India – food and lodging

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006

Chonor House, belonging to the Tibetan government-in-exile, is considered the top spot in Dharamsala, and the nearest thing to a 4* guesthouse. The rooms, at $60, have to be booked months in advance, which I did (via reliable Milap Nehria at Summit Adventures in Dharamsala, who also booked the a/c car from Amritsar,, After traveling by train and car for 2 days, it was relaxing to take long hot showers and sleep in a comfortable bed. The rooms are ethnic but shabby, rain poured in through the ceiling, and the restaurant is totally unremarkable. They also never replied to the email sent them directly. On the other hand, I did meet interesting people in the lobby. So after 2 nights, I checked out the nearby Pema Thang ($30) which unfortunately was full, but ate in the very good restaurant – Tibetan pizza! (, That’s where I’d stay next time. I ended up in Bhagsu, a 10 minute walk uphill, in Akash Deep, one of the simple but clean guesthouses, where it was quieter. Bhagsunat Road has numerous backpacker cafes, Circling Dawn Cafe opposite the temple serves the best muesli and yoghurt, and salads.

My favorite restaurants in Dharamsala are Ashoka on Jogiwara Rd and Tibet Hotel on Bhagsu Rd (try the kulchas!) Vegetarian Japanese Lung Ta on Jogiwara Rd was fine for once or twice.

To be avoided: Om (near the bus stand) – worst service and food