As and when we are moving ahead in our Sikkim journey time and again we have realized that coming to Sikkim has been a life-time experience We began this tour in East Sikkim, with Gangtok. We passed through South Sikkim to reach Pelling in West Sikkim. To sum it up, we can say that Sikkim is heaven. Hello friends! Welcome to Visa2explore! This is your host, Harish Bali. We reached Pelling a bit late in the evening yesterday. We had booked Summit Rewa Agency as our hotel here. My stay here was quite comfortable. Some mentionable aspects – the room size was quite large, quite spacious. The morning view from the balcony, as you can see, is breathtakingly beautiful. I really liked the staff hospitality here. We ate dinner last night at the hotel restaurant but couldn’t record it because our camera battery was exhausted. We just wanted to eat our food and go to sleep because we were dead-tired. I liked the food though. Overall, I am satisfied with the stay. These days, it is off-season here, so the tariff we paid was Rs. 2860 for double occupancy. During peak season, tariff goes up to around Rs. 3700/-. The tariff includes breakfast too but since we need to move out early, we will have to miss the breakfast. Right now, we have come down 3kms from Pelling to have our breakfast at a homestay. Apart from a light drizzling, there is a lot of greenery and I can also see a farm nearby. They had prepared the tea even before we entered and there are snacks too. Mr. Pem, who is the owner of this homestay, is here with me. Host: “Will you please explain these snacks?” Pem: “This we call ByasuChadum. In your language, you may call it Corn flakes. The snack on the top is called Khabze and it is made of refined flour. The one below it, in the middle is called Honeycomb. This last one is called Zero, it is made of rice.” Host: “Very good!” He told me that the best way to eat ByasuChadum is to dip it in tea and enjoy it bit by bit. People enjoy this snack here. We also have with Udaybhai, our driver and Himanshu. By the way, this is hard but it has softened after being dipped in tea. Hmmm! It is good. It has a good taste! Zairo is made of rice. Hmm! It is a very good snack. It is healthy along with being tasty. Host: “Very good!” So, now we are going to discuss with him about what we can have for breakfast. And after that, breakfast! They are preparing two dishes for our breakfast. The first dish is called Cowdee. The second dish being cooked is Yunten. Its process of cooking is very interesting. They added ghee to a pan, to which they added a bit of salt, and on top of that Rampo and chopped onions. Rampo is a variety of green leafy vegetable, which is used in making pickles as well as a stuffing for different preparations. After this mix is sautéed for a while, it is transferred to a separate bowl, to be used later. After the mixture cools down, they added chhurpi, the local cheese, to it and salt as per taste. He mixed everything together to prepare a nice filling. They prepared dough separately, from which small balls are made. Each ball is flattened into the shape of a roti. Each roti is stuffed with the mixture prepared earlier and it is shaped like ShaPhaley. These dumplings now go into the steamer to be steamed. There is another recipe in which these dumplings are boiled in water before being cooked further. They have served raw Rampo leaves, chopped, for additional flavor and Yunten with chhurpi chutney. Very simple preparation but tasty to eat. I had eaten a similar dish in Gangtok too, that was Thenthuk. I find only one difference between Thenthuk and this recipe – the size and shape of the pasta that goes into it. Otherwise, more or less, the recipes are same to a large extent. This is the stuffing inside. I’ve told you already that its shape is like ShaPhaley& it is made of wheat dough. Very interesting concept! Now obviously I am feeling the thickness of dough layer while eating it, and the stuffing containing chhurpi is also slightly sour. That is dominating the whole taste of this dish. I came to know after coming here that people make quite an extensive use of chhurpi in multiple recipes. Now see it has been used in this chutney as well as in the stuffing too. It is like chhurpi everywhere! Hmmmm! Again, adding this chhurpi chutney enhanced the taste of the dish. I feel like adding a bit of chutney to every bite and enjoy it. They also have a homestay down below. Let us go there and see the rooms. He brought me here to show me one of the rooms in the homestay. The tariff is Rs. 3000/-, which includes breakfast and dinner. Host: “Mr. Pem, are there snakes around here, especially because the homestay in the middle of a jungle.” Pem: “Yes Sir, but only during rainy season.” Host: “Alright.” Pem: “During winters, they go into hibernation and are not seen around. Even during rainy season, they are seen a few times, not everyday.” Right now we are travelling from Pelling to Pemayangtse Monastery. This monastery is located at a height from Pelling. It is raining heavily, therefore, we are driving very slowly towards the monastery. We had gone into the monastery just now but videography is prohibited inside. I have with me Mr. Wangyal, a teacher at this monastery. Host: “Sir, can you tell us something about the history of this monastery.” Mr. Wangyal: “This is a major monastery of Sikkim. There are six monasteries in Sikkim. Out of those is this Pemayangtse monastery, located near Pelling in West Sikkim. This old monastery was established in 1647. And it has grown into this large complex owing to multiple renovations.” Host: “We liked it here.” Let me show you on the map that we are right now standing at Pemayangtse monastery near Pelling, which is part of West district of Sikkim. I just came back from visiting the first floor shrine hall of Guru Padmasambhava. There is a museum on the second floor. I liked this visit to the monastery. We have reached a village, 7kms far from Pelling to eat Buckwheat roti,Eshkus kadum and pudine (mint) koachar (pickle). I really love the presentation of this meal. Look at the size and texture of the buckwheat roti. Now, this Eshkus can be confused with baby pumpkin in the first look. However, I want to taste this chutney first because when I saw it being prepared manually, I liked the process. The chutney has a strong flavor of pudina as well as the Dalle chilies. Look at the close up of this buckwheat roti. They’ve added coriander leaves to garnish the eshkus dish. Hmmm! Amazing taste and very, very simple preparation! Very good! This is the first time I am eating eshkus. So far I’ve only eaten eshkuskamunta (eshkus leaves). However, I’m eating Iskoos for the first time. Trust me, it is a very good dish! Although, I am a bit confused about whether it is the Chow Chow that we also get in South India. In Chennai, while eating AdaiAvial, I had come across Chow Chow. So, if any of you can confirm whether Eshkus is chow chow, please confirm in your comments. If one doesn’t know it is Eshkus, one can confuse it with baby pumpkin or bottle gourd in the first bite. It is an experience in itself to come here and eat the food that is grown organically in the farms. So far, I’ve eaten 3 bowls of Eshkus, had two more helpings of the chutney and eaten 4 buckwheat rotis. I want to tell you about my personal experience. We have been traveling in Sikkim for many days now. We visited North, East and South districts and today we are in the West. Whatever food I’ve eaten in Sikkim so far, it is delicious, best, simple and very tasty food. But if someone asks me for my No. 1 meal so far, I want to say it with all my heart that today’s meal, that you served me here, is my top choice. Such simple, delicious meal of chutney, Eshkus and buckwheat roti! That is it. You won’t need to eat anything else. Even though I have had several helpings of each dish, I am still in mood for some more. But I will have to stop somewhere. Thank you, I enjoyed my meal very much. Before I leave, they said they were gonna serve me black tea with ginger. Very good! This tea is different in taste and the ginger feels good. Everything is good! (laughter) And this serving style is too good! Too good! Exceptional! While traveling on the road, we’ve reached the Rimbi waterfall. Look at this beautiful sight of water flowing at a high pressure speed downwards. Too good! After Rimbi waterfall, we will also get to see the Kanchenjunga waterfall further ahead. We missed the Singshore waterfalls because we would have had to divert our route by an hour at least. We missed that. We also visited the Rabdentse ruins monastery, near Geyzing. If we take this road going up, we can visit the Khecheopalrilake, 10 kms down this road. We are not going to the lake, instead we are going to Yuksam, 19kms from here, as written here. This waterfall is huge and amazing just like its long name, Kanchenjunga. We had gone inside to watch the whole of waterfall, which is just 20 minutes away. Such a beautiful waterfall! I was under the impression that North Sikkim had the most beautiful waterfalls but this one is the best! I mean, one of the best waterfalls I’ve seen in Sikkim. Such a high-pressure flow of water! Now I will show you what we were able to record on our mobile phones. We couldn’t shoot with camera as it would have been drenched in so much water. Because of the sound it creates, this is called the Ringing Stone. If you come to West Sikkim, you should definitely stop here for 5 minutes and visit here. As compared to other parts of Sikkim, the West district has the most number of bamboo trees. I was noticing the whole time. Look at the bamboo trees! Now we are leaving for Yuksam. We’ve reached Yuksam. That is our hotel in the front. The first thing I did was fixed my dinner for tonight. I went to a restaurant nearby. It is owned by two ladies, one of whom is here with me. They told me that I had already had everything in the past few days. So what new should we serve you! So, finally we decided let us go to a vegetable shop nearby. Right now, we are at this vegetable shop. It is written here ‘Sikkim Organic Shop.’ Now, we are finding out what we can have for dinner tonight. After 15 minutes of brainstorming, we’ve reached this conclusion that I’m going to have one vegetarian dish and one non-vegetarian dish. In vegetarian, they will prepare a dish using broccoli, Eshkus and potatoes. In non-veg, there will be chicken with mooli (radish). Host: “What is it called here?” Woman: “Moola!” Host: “Moola.” It is 8 pm and my dinner is ready. The road I deafeningly silent right now. Lot of peace! Anyways, let me tell you about what is served on this table. This is GorkheAchar. This dish’s name is Kewa Datshi. This is a dish made of broccoli and potato. Chicken and radish! They are Mr. Ashish and Mr. Uday. We had hired our car from Tamu travels in Gangtok and we had Mr. Deepak with us earlier, who took us to Zero Point and other locations. Then, though our car was the same but the driver got changed. So, Udaybhai is our driver now. Host: “Please start eating!” In the original recipe of this dish, people like to eat broccoli with Eshkus. Just to lend some variety to the dish, they have added potatoes too. I am very excited about tasting these two chutneys. This is because I saw both these being made myself and that gave rise to temptation in me. Specially the Dalle chilies! It is as tempting to eat as it is spicy! I like eating spicy things! Chicken cooked with radish is a very popular dish in this region. Though this may sound a bit different as a dish, but people like it here. I think I have filled my plate to the brim. I will serve Kewa Datshi 2 minutes later. We had had Eshkus this afternoon too, with buckwheat roti, where I had told you how much I enjoyed it. And now broccoli for dinner! Too Good! But I have become a fan of this vegetable! Very good, very tasty! In Sikkim, people eat it almost on a daily basis. Quite a simple preparation of chicken! What I mean to say is that if you like a flare of spices in your chicken curry, then this dish is not for you. Let me clarify it beforehand. But, if you like homely cooking, with decent amount of spices, then this is a delicious and amazing dish. The chicken is slightly sour to eat. The reason for that are the locally grown tomatoes. Rest, what you expect from a well-cooked chicken – softness, tenderness – that is absolutely in place. Host: “Ashish, you eat chicken a lot. What is your opinion?” Ashish: “Sir, this is my first-time experience of eating chicken with mooli. I’ve never had it before. But its taste is amazing.” Host: “Hmmm. The taste is good!” Host: “Udaybhai! What do you have to say?” Uday: “We eat it on a daily basis!” Host: “Okay, so you eat such food on a daily basis.” Uday: “Yes!” Host: “Hmm, very good!” Just look at the texture of this Kewa Datshi soup. Potatoes, tomatoes and cheese on top! It is boiled while cooking and this dish is considered a delicacy in this region. People really like it in Bhutan. Taste is amazing! To come to Yuksam in West Sikkim and eat a dinner like this was an enjoyable experience for us. Host: “The food was really well-cooked. It was very tasty as well as healthy.” Well, coming to Yuksam was an enjoyable experience for us. We’ve just had dinner yet for a start. Tomorrow, we will travel locally and then go to Namchi, which you will see in a separate episode. If you have your own experiences related to Sikkim food, travel or sight-seeing, do share in your comments. As always, I will look forward to your comments. Host: “Thanks.” They just told me that ByasuChadum is eaten by dipping in tea (man! What are you thinking about!) (Laughter) They just told me that ByasuChadum is eaten by dipping in tea. Take a piece of each no! This means you are doubtful it wouldn’t be good, that is why you are sharing it! (Laughter) Put it back!