Lachung to Gangtok Food & Travel Journey | North East India Tourism EP- 6
In the last episode, you saw the exciting journey from Lachen to Lachung. In Lachung, we stayed at the Summit Alpine Resort. The off-season tariff in the resort was Rs. 5000/-, which included bed plus two meals. The peak season tariff goes upto Rs. 6000/-. We really enjoyed our dinner last night at the resort. In the morning, the view in front of our room was absolutely breathtaking. We do feel like spending a day more in Lachung but we have to move on. The weather, peaceful atmosphere, food, simplicity and village life of this place is truly commendable. The size of the room, scenic view from the room, staff hospitality, food, room service – our overall stay in Summit Alpine Resort was very comfortable and enjoyable for us. Hello Friends! Welcome to Visa2explore! This is your host, Harish Bali. We in Lachung right now and we are about to leave for Gangtok. Let me show you our exact location on the map and the route to Gangtok. Just look at the beautiful view in front. Clouds, light drizzling, river Teesta flowing far away – everything is so good. For the past one hour, we have been virtually just sitting here and enjoying the view. This complete place is so beautiful! Sikkim is divided into four districts – North, East, South & West. Right now, we are in Lachung, which is right here. We have to go via Chungthang to Gangtok, which is in the East District, right here. It is an approximate distance of 135kms. It should take us only 5 hours to cover if we make just two stops on the way. If you notice this map, the North district is the largest in terms of geographical area but it has the least number of people in terms of population. It is monsoon season nowadays, light drizzle is falling. As we travel on this road, we feel like taking a break every 15 minutes and just enjoy this weather. Such beautiful weather, such cool air – it is a scene worth watching. If you love waterfalls, trust me, Sikkim is heaven for you. Every few kilometers, there is a beautiful waterfall to see, both large and small. Moreover, you will get to see the most number of waterfalls in the North district in Sikkim as compared to other districts. This is what our driver told us. It has been one and a half hour since we left Lachung and we’ve reached the Naga waterfall. This waterfall is absolutely breathtaking. We had stopped here even while going to Lachen from Gangtok. Look at the beauty of this waterfall and the way the water is flowing down and with such speed. We are back at the restaurant where we had had a meal while on our way from Gangtok to Lachen. It is 10.30 am and we have reached Tingchim for breakfast. They have a lot of recipes for local food. Host: “What can we have for breakfast this morning?” Man: “First of all, welcome Harish ji!” Host: “Thanks!” Man: “Let us go into our garden. We will show you there. This corn I am going to serve you fried. You will get to eat this only once in a year. And then this is a root vegetable, which we will boil and serve with achar (pickle).” Corn fry looks so tempting. They have served it with this chutney. Ummm! I saw it being cooked. The most amazing part of this taste is the onion and tomatoes used in its tempering. To top that, it has black salt and chat masala (tangy spice mix) for seasoning. The combined taste of these four ingredients is super-amazing. It is cooked two ways – with ghee and with butter. They suggested that I eat it with butter as that would taste much better. So, here I am, eating it and I am enjoing it. The chili here is very spicy in taste and I had asked them to not add too much of chili. Mint is working very well with the corn and the chili, though less, is still adding the spice. If you look at it, it is a very simple recipe, but with amazing taste. We enjoyed corn very much. They had talked about this root vegetable called Tarul. I checked it, it is boiled but not cooked yet. So, they told me that if it had been cooked perfectly, I would have enjoyed eating it with this chutney. So, I have been asked to drop it for now and they have served me momos instead. Look at the texture of the momos, it is beautiful! This is the chicken stuffing inside, with chopped onions. Hmmm! Very soft and very tasty! There are obviously no spices in it. But it has a particular flavor. Would you like to know what it is? It is the flavor of sesame oil. I’ve never heard sesame oil being used inside chicken stuffing. But here, it is used thus. Now, let me eat it with this chutney. Hmmm!!! Too good! I’ve already tasted this chutney. It has lots of chilies, mint leaves. I am enjoying the authentic taste of this preparation. Not to miss, juicy also! There are two routes to travel from Tingchim to Gangtok. One is 51kms long and we need to take a left to follow that. The other road is the straight one, which passes through small, quaint villages, leading to Gangtok. This route is longer by 15-17kms but the condition of the road is good. After traveling 25kms on this road, we’ve come to this small village, whose name is… Host: “What did you say the name of the village was?” Man: “Rakdong.” (Host spells it out) Host: “This village is called Rakdong. He will cook two dishes for us. One is this packet that we had already bought on our way. This is dried radish. This will be used to make soup. The second dish will be made of bamboo shoots. This is bamboo shoots, which we noticed while traveling.” He told me that pumpkin is called Farsi here. These are leaves of the pumpkin plant and one can make a dish out of these as well. So, we might have three, instead of just two, dishes! Man: “Eating Farsi ka munta (farsi leaves), Kisloo and palak (spinach) saag improves eye health. That is why no one in these areas needs to wear spectacles.” Host: “Yeah, even I noticed no one wearing a spectacle in Sikkim.” Man: “Yes, the number of people in Sikkim wearing spectacles is very less.” Host: “Perfect!” This dried radish has a very strong odor in it. He just told me that it is called Sinki here. What they do is chop radishes into large pieces and sun-dry the pieces. Once the pieces are properly dried or dehydrated, they pack these up in plastic bags & bury it into earth. The bags stay in the earth for approximately 14 days. After that, the bags are taken out, the larger pieces are chopped into smaller ones and Sinki is ready. Now, it can be eaten for a year or so. In fact, he told me that this is very good for digestion. It has a very strong odor. This the soup made of Sinki, which I showed you. It is a bit tangy. Host: “Sir, it is a very juicy vegetable!” Man: “Yes sir.” Host: “Also, it is very tasty to eat.” Quite a tasty vegetable! Host: “What is this bamboo shoot exactly?” Man: “The bamboo shoot is very young part of the plant.” (Host laughing) Quite spicy this chili is! Man: “This one is called Dalle Khursani.” Host: “Okay. It is quite spicy!” Host: “This was a matter of chance for us that we were traveling to Gangtok on this road. We ended up meeting you here &having this lunch sitting with you.” Hmmm! The main aim of following this route is that we wanted to eat traditional food wherever we could stop enroute. However, it is a matter of chance that wherever we are stopping and inquiring, we are being told that traditional food is unavailable. Now, we thought we should enjoy the scenic view as well alongside the journey. So, we got to see something that we couldn’t enjoy so far in Sikkim. That is watching the movement of clouds! Look at this breathtaking view! We are at the same height as the clouds and in some areas, clouds are floating beneath us. Just as we were watching the clouds clearly, it took just a minute or so for the mist to come in and engulf the whole valley. Visibility is totally gone now! Gangtok is exactly 24kms from here now and the scenic view is amazing. The road that we are following, it is 70%-80% good and rest, there are smaller patches in bad condition. However, overall, the road is good. We reached Gangtok in the evening. We stayed at Summit Namnang Courtyard & Spa, which is at a 10-15 minutes walking distance from M.G. Marg. We paid a tariff of Rs. 2970, including breakfast. The peak season tariff here goes upto Rs. 4150/-. I have stayed at one of these hotels earlier. I liked the room service, staff hospitality and housekeeping here. They have properties in places other than Sikkim as well, like Darjeeling, Manali, Shimla, Munnar & Bhutan. Our overall stay here was quite comfortable. We left Lachung this morning and while enjoying the waterfalls, scenic view and traditional food, we’ve reached Gangtok. We are at M.G. Marg. It is 7.30 pm and for dinner, we’ve come to Allen’s Kitchen on M.G. Marg. We are eating traditional food here as well. I’ve ordered 3 dishes for myself – Sadeko aloo (potatoes), Chicken sikooti, Karchi marchi (chilies). I tried to understand the recipe for Sadeko aloo – onions, tomatoes, green chilies, coriander leaves, etc are mixed together with diced boiled potatoes and sesame seeds are added further. Chicken sikooti – I’ve told you this is a chicken-based dish. This I’ve told you is Karchi marchi. It is also a chicken based dish, made primarily of chicken liver and gizzard. This is the first time that I am eating potatoes cooked in mustard oil and sesame seeds. It is a totally different preparation. This potato dish has potato, of course, coriander leaves, tomatoes, onions, and it tastes amazing. The chicken sikooti is almost prepared on the same lines. The only difference is that the chicken pieces are fried first and then prepared similarly like the potato The mustard oil is enhancing the flavor here as well. Hmmm! Nice! This is the first time I’m eating chicken liver and gizzard based dish. Very good preparation and good taste! Usually, when I eat a new dish, I feel that I should eat it more than once to develop a taste for it. But it has a very nice taste. I had noticed already that there is a huge quantity of mustard oil that goes into its preparation. There was a time that we used to eat a lot of dishes cooked in mustard oil. But over the period of time, refined oil replaced mustard oil in many ways. These days, a lot of people don’t like the taste of mustard oil. But I like it very much. And whenever a dish is cooked in mustard oil, I develop a special inclination towards its taste. Good preparation, authentic taste and I’m happy that I came here and ate this traditional food. Our food journey from Lachung to Gangtok is complete with this dinner. We have already explored Gangtok food scene. If you missed that video, you will find its link in the description below. Tomorrow we plan to go to Pelling. It is far from here, at least 5-6 hour journey. What we will see or eat, that we will know once we reach there. But that you will see in the next episode. If you have your own experiences related to Sikkim food, do share in your comments. That’s it.Thanks for your time.