Covid Cooking - The View From Tibet



Tibetan people are a hugely resourceful bunch, especially when it comes to food.

Out on the grasslands of the plateau, the Tibetan diet ain't all that. Nomads often eat tsampa (roasted barley flour) three times a day. It's lightweight and very portable, and makes for a great convenience food. If you're out and about it can be eaten directly from the pouch around your belt. If you're cosy inside your yak hair tent it can be mixed with boiling water to make porridge. It can also be used to thicken stews or make bread. Nomads typically consume what is available, and as very little grows at high altitude there's a lot of making do.

Even back home, improvisation is essential in the kitchen. When Yeshi was growing up in Tibet there were no shops in his village, so the family would cook with produce they grew and harvested themselves, or perhaps with ingredients traded with somebody in the next town. Because every day was different and seasonality was real, cookbooks were not a thing and no rules could apply. Dinner was rarely cooked the same way twice.

In Tibet everyone learns quickly what ingredients make a good pairing, and to trust in instinct and experience. This goes some way to explaining why sometimes your keema comes with peas, and sometimes with pepper, and so on.

Lockdown is teaching us all a bit of resourcefulness in the kitchen as we too learn to make do with back-of-the-freezer finds in place of a trip to the shops. Yeshi always says that channeling confidence is key, and that good recipes should never have to be followed to the letter. Substitute here and there, experiment with what you dig out of the kitchen drawers, and if you get things wrong today you're less likely to make the same mistake tomorrow. The important thing is to have a go. Lessons are learned along the way.

And if you'd prefer to eat our food that's good too! We are running deliveries again this Thursday if you need some help feeding your household - remember that this is chilled food for your fridge and freezer that comes in family sizes as well as individual portions. Everything keeps well in the fridge for three days. Please order by 5pm on Wednesday for delivery between 1 and 4pm on Thursday.

If you'd like hot food we will be open for takeaways at 109 Magdalen Road on Friday and Saturday evening, 5-8.30pm. You can pre-order by phone between 4pm and 8pm on the day (01865 499318), or just turn up.

Finally, please consider adding vouchers to your cart when you order online to assist our ongoing work supporting Oxford's most vulnerable. We aim to provide free meals through Oxford Mutual Aid on a weekly basis. These go out to the homeless, the elderly and people in temporary accommodation. Thank you so so much to everyone who is supporting this initiative.