Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Losar Sang! Minyak Pholo

Happy Losar! Yes, I know I'm a few weeks late, but I've been moving. Anyway, I've decided to post a special Losar recipe to celebrate, even though I am late.

A Losar Altar

I spent much of this losar with my friend, Drolma, from Chamdo. She's a great cook.

Drolma with a bowl of Droma Dresil, or sweet rice, to start our Losar

Beef Momos

Anyway, I started to get nostalgic for a food I had during Losar of 2009, in the Minyak region of Kham, Pholo. Pholo is a big, puffy, sweet momo. While I have had some sweet momos in other areas of Tibet, Pholo are my favorite and are very unique. Outside of Minyak, I've never met people who've eaten them. Perhaps a few other areas of Tibet eat Pholo, but I've not encountered them. After talking with Drolma, we decided to make Pholo. We made a bunch and several people, Tibetan and western, helped us eat them. Everyone loved them, so I decided to share the recipe here.

Minyak Pholo
Flour, 1 kg
Baking Powder, 1 handful
Powdered Chura, 1/4 kilo (Tibetan dried cheese)
Sugar, 2 big handfuls
half a kilo of Tsampa (Tibetan barley flour)
Walnuts, 2 handfuls, crushed
Butter, 5-6 sticks, maybe more....

a steamer

Chura is kind of hard to get outside of Tibet. I'm not sure if there is a good replacement for it. I'm just going to have to assume that you have chura. Otherwise, I'm sure it will taste good without.

Chura is rock hard, so take your chura in a bowl and pour about one cup of warm water into it. This should be absorbed immediately. Stir it around so that all of the chura gets wet. The Chura should quickly start to soften.

soaking Chura

At this point, add the sugar to the chura and stir it around. If you are working without chura, you can mix the sugar into the Tsampa instead.
In another bowl, mix your flour and baking powder together. Make sure its well mixed. Then add water until you have a stretchy, flexible dough that looks kind of like this
Wrap this in plastic and ignore it for a while.

Next, mix your chura and tsampa together.

Gather as much butter as you can get on short notice. Melt it ALL.
We found four sticks of wasn't enough.

Mix your butter with your tsampa, chura, sugar and add the crushed walnuts. Knead this into a dough and make little balls out of it.

Take the dough out of the bag. Tear off small peices and make little discs of dough, like so.

Put a tsampa ball in the middle then wrap it up and roll it around in your hands until it forms a perfectly round, smooth, wrapped ball.

Continue until all the balls are wrapped

working hard in our Losar finery

Finally, steam the momos for 20 minutes. Make sure to give them room as they puff up.

Finally, ENJOY!

Now, I bet you're asking "How on earth was 4 sticks of butter not enough?" The answer is in that picture above. The filling is alike a paste, when it should be goopy from the melted butter. It tasted delicious but the filling was slightly too dry. I figure half again as much butter should do the trick.

Happy Losar to you all!