Nepalese Chef Pemba Lama brings the Himalayan
country’s culinary delights to SIBF 2019
Puts the humble potato to a creative test at the Sharjah international Book Fair’s Cookery Corner
Sharjah, 6 November 2019
Teaching a group of aspiring chefs and curious onlookers at the Sharjah International Book Fair (2019) about the Nepalese cuisine, was chef Pemba Lama who shared a few exciting twists to the number one vegetable crop in the world…potatoes or ‘batata’ as it’s popularly known in the Middle East.
Whether mashed, baked or roasted who doesn’t like potatoes? It’s a versatile root vegetable and a staple food in many household across cultures. The delicious, crispy yet simple Alu Dum (Spicy Potatoes) recipe that smelt wonderful was enough to be a crowd-puller to SIBF’s Cookery corner. But to add to the delight of all its attendees, the chef accompanied the spicy potatoes with Alu Roti (potato pancakes) and a yogurt dip that proved to be a treat to everyone’s eyes, making the session a big favourite, with mobile cameras emerging immediately.
Later, explaining the importance of this vegetable in the Nepalese cuisine and the multitude of influence that’s reflected in this Himalayan country’s food, Lama says,
“people of Nepal have many different ethnicities and the food in my country is a combination of a range of ingredients and techniques that has been influenced by its neighboring countries, apart from its own gastronomic history. As for potatoes, it’s widely prepared in different ways. It is particularly popular within the Newar communities in the Himalayas and Pahar (mountainous) region. This vegetable is packed with vitamins and minerals”.
When nudged to tell us a little about himself, Lama says, “As a child I grew up in a Tibetan family, as a paying guest, and there was a culture of helping elders in the kitchen. So, I feel children should also be inducted into cooking at an early age, as it is one of key life skills and these are easy recipes that they can try under parental supervision. My message to everyone here is, eat well, eat fresh, because you are what you eat”.
While Lama’s recipes proved to be an instant hit with everyone, it’s no easy task to establish a group of foods that are distinctly Nepalese. However, there are some dishes that are mainstays when talking about the culturally diverse Nepal and this was, certainly, one of them.
The Sharjah International Book Fair’s culinary corner is introducing appetizing recipes to visitors every day. Held under the theme, ‘Open Books… Open Minds’, SIBF 2019, runs until November 9, at the Sharjah Expo Center.