It’s always a treat when you belong to a diverse group, most especially when there is food to enjoy as part of it. If you grew up in Baguio, you would definitely know Ram Sharma of the old Bheromull’s Department Store.
He grew up a vegetarian and as president of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center Advisory Board, he treated us to a vegetarian lunch at his home at Trancoville. The regular meeting turned into sampling of his wife, Manju’s, cooking.
Of course, curry was among the dishes served. If I’m not mistaken, it was the potato, mushroom, cauliflower, and bell peppers. Given a swirl of yogurt and drizzled with cilantro, it was everything like the curry dishes you’ve tried and would not miss the meat you are used to.
The favorite was the pana puri pastry shells that are filled with peas and some corn or lentils then drizzled with tamarind sauce. The secret in eating this is popping it into your mouth and munching or chomping on it. It’s a different kind of taco. There’s something about sweet tamarind that is enjoyable and very Asian and Indian.
Samosas are like empanadas in Philippine cuisine. This version that we had was made of cheese and potatoes. It was dense and filling. The sauces are varied for this. One can opt for a minty sauce, yogurt, or a tomato sauce with onions to eat this with.
Chapati with the dahl or boiled spicy lentil dish is always my kind of hearty meal. This homemade chapati is thicker than crepes or shall I say soft taco shells. In truth this is used to wipe the delicious sauce left on the plates. This can be a substitute for rice or eaten with it too. But this was heavenly with the dish made with cheese cubes or the creamy yogurt based dish.
Biryani rice was boiled with carrots, peas, and bell peppers. This was garnished with green onions and finely chopped cilantro. I’m not sure if there was a hint of ginger. I remember how an Indian friend once showed me how to make the onion and ginger paste in a pestle by swirling it and not pounding it. This blends the flavors well.
The dessert was rice slowly cooked in milk overnight, and spiced with cardamom. Almost the consistency of ginataan or coconut milk based rice cakes but this is a soupy version. Fried tapioca chips was a delightful texture of munchy and balls and the fried bean flakes are such departure from regular commercial chips. So delicious and delightful.
This is not near a justification of the savory experience we had eating all the great dishes we had last Wednesday. The food bonding is what we thrive on.
We can turn vegetarian any day. Thanks, president Ram.