I have always enjoyed cooking from Chef Vikas Khanna’s cookbooks – the recipes work and provide delightful results. So I was delighted to receive a review copy of his newest book, Return to the Rivers: Recipes and Memories of the Himalayan River Valleys. And, oh my, what a book!
First, the foreword is written His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Should I even go on?
The book is as charming as it is beautiful. It is part travel memories and part recipes. What I loved most about the book is that Chef Vikas has documented the recipes as they should be and has not modified them too much. They are rustic and authentic and quite simple. In an area where vegetables are hard to grow, the cooking is very hearty and focused on the meats.
I was worried when I first got the book that I would not find the ingredients to make the recipes. Totally unfounded worry! I was able to cook several of the dishes quite easily with everyday ingredients. There are a few ingredients that are harder to find but in all, this book is just worth buying for the beautiful stories and the simple recipes that remind us of what is really important in this world: togetherness.
Some of the recipes that I have tried – Red rice with apricots and walnuts, tamarind onion relish and spiced black chickpeas. Just terrific!
I selected a recipe that shows you how easy the dishes are in the book to prepare and that a recipe does not need to be complicated to be good:
Tibetan-Style Lo Mein [Thukpa Dangmo]
Recipe and Photo from Vikas Khanna’s Return to the Rivers. Both are used here with permission from the publisher
This noodle dish provided me sustenance through my long journeys in Tibet and I love it. Lhasa was the central point of my travels, and each time I had a stopover there, I would get these noodles from the street carts outside Jokhang Temple. I would request stewed vegetables and meats be added to the noodles to make this a complete meal on the go.
While “thukpa” means noodles, “dangmo” means served at room temperature.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 ounces cooked lo mein noodles, preferably fresh
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Pinch of sugar
3 scallions, finely chopped
Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Carefully swirl to coat the bottom of the pan with the hot oil. Add the noodles, cayenne, soy sauce, salt to taste, and sugar and toss to combine and heat all the ingredients. Top with the scallions and serve cold or at room temperature.
Chef Vikas Khanna (bio from Amazon)
Vikas Khanna opened his own catering company at the age of seventeen and never looked back. He has worked his way up to be one of New York City’s top-rated chefs with his work at Salaam Bombay, The Café at the Rubin Museum, and the Michelin-starred Junoon. He is equally recognized for his work in humanitarian efforts with SAKIV, New York Chefs Cooking for Life, his documentary film series, Holy Kitchens, and as the host of MasterChef India television program. In recent years, he has become recognized for his television appearances on Martha Stewart, Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, and Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Khanna now resides in New York, NY.