Discovering the secrets of the Himalayas

Updated: Sep 22, 2019, 08:17 IST | Abhishek Mande Bhot |

Chef Ranveer Brar cooks with locals and forages for ingredients with nomadic tribes of the Himalayas on his new show, Himalayas: The Offbeat Adventure

This summer, Chef Ranveer Brar's Himalayan odyssey took him to remote villages amidst nomadic tribes and into homes of locals living at 15,000 feet. Until now, all he'd done was drive through its picturesque passes as part of bike and car rallies. This time around, he broke bread with locals, heard their stories and returned home with a slickly-packaged TV show, Himalayas: The Offbeat Adventure. On the show that airs on the TV channel LF, Brar travels through Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, foraging, cooking and learning. About food, about life.

"The show deep dives into subcultures and communities of the Himalayas that are largely unseen to the outside world," he says. These include, among many others, nomadic tribes that forage Cordyceps or Keeda Jadi, a rare Himalayan aphrodisiac that sells anywhere north of Rs 10 lakh, families in Turtuk, the last Indian village before the Line of Actual Control and the pashmina goat herder tribe of Changpa.

Throughout the journey, Brar discovers ingredients, cooks at homes of locals and forages when he's camping. In the first episode, for instance, that aired last Tuesday, Brar's eyes light up at the sight of yak cheese and he uses a sea buckthorn shrub to cook a local trout. "So far I thought of Russian buckwheat as among the best," he says, "That was until I discovered buckwheat in Turtuck." Brar says that food has always been his window to the world. "But over the years, I've realised that you cannot understand food till you don't understand the culture. And that's why we've taken a culture-first approach on this show."

The journey also made him realise that the higher people live, the more giving they are. "If you meet someone living at 15,000 feet, the first thing they'll ask you is if you've eaten. Because they realise how difficult life can be up there." Brar says that the journey transformed him in several ways but that he's returned home with an important lesson. "The Himalayas teach you that there's a fine line between need and greed and that the latter can be very expensive.

What: livingfoodz.com/himalayas

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