Books & Literature

Cookbook Review: Taste Tibet, by Julie Kleeman and Yeshi Jampa

Health-giving, delicious recipes put together with passion and purpose from a civilisation that has not yet lost touch with how to eat.

Taste Tibet is more than a book title. It’s an invitation that makes you ache for a place you've never been.
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Tibet is a large autonomous region of China on the northern side of the Himalayas, sharing the world’s largest peak, Mount Everest, with neighbouring Nepal. Outside of religious connections, though, little is known in the western world of the rich and unique cultural landscape.

Julie Kleeman and Yeshi Jampa set out to educate, inform, entertain, and feed the world with this beautifully designed hardcover volume that is part history lesson and part cultural learning as it introduces more than 80 Tibetan recipes.

Julie’s introduction to their own life and the land of Tibet runs almost 30 pages, demonstrating the love and detail they share for the region. It’s accompanied by personal photos and images of the people, places and lifestyle. It is a wonderful autobiography that primarily focusses on how food connects family and community, and the history of how the isolation and extreme weather of Tibet led to the natural evolution of using food for health, not just enjoyment.

Taste Tibet is an easy read and an interesting one that is further added to throughout the book with the authors’ decent introductions to individual recipes and chapters.

While many may confuse Tibetan food with Nepali or Chinese dishes, the authors are quick to explain the differences and similarities. A breakdown of common ingredients helps to prepare for cooking, with very few products needing to be sourced outside of a major supermarket. A pronunciation guide adds a bit more authenticity to the experience of sampling these foods.

All this is joined by Ola O. Smit’s teasing food photography, Keiko Wong’s loving travel photography and random other photos from the authors and others. The final result is a book that makes one ache for a place they’ve never been. Taste Tibet is more than a title. It’s an invitation. And if travel is not your thing, then the invitation to explore the food is just as tempting. From breakfasts and cold dishes to rice, stir fries, noodles, soups, dumplings, street food, sweet food, breads, and sauces, Taste Tibet caters to every craving. There’s ample vegetarian and vegan options, clearly noted, and options to avoid the heat if spice is not your thing.

Taste Tibet, subtitled Family Recipes from the Himalayas, is a very welcome addition to the kitchen shelves and offers a smorgasbord of new and exciting dishes not often seen on a western table.

COLD BEEF SALAD (PAGE 74) AND SEPEN (PAGE 190)

Sepen is a hot chilli dip, although I amended this quick and easy recipe to remove the kick. All the ingredients were on hand other than the chilli itself, which is easily purchased in a supermarket or swapped for the suggested chilli flakes. It added a lot of flavour to the cold beef salad which was just as simple to make. I love that the beef is roasted first, a fact that I wasn’t expecting. It makes this a great way to use up leftovers from a Sunday roast, as it can just as easily work with any other meat. Served cold, it can be a main or a side dish. The additional flavours added to the meat before the sepen really makes this basic fare pop.

TOFU WITH BROCCOLI AND TOMATO (PAGE 90)

The authors tell us that traditional Tibetan medicine dictates that we should eat a broad range of food and every meal should include different-coloured food. This one certainly fits the bill. It’s a rainbow of colour that looks fantastic on the plate and tastes divine. Personally, I’m not a fan of tofu and would swap it over for chicken, seafood or just leave it with the vegetables next time. For fans of tofu however, this vegan dish provides a nice crispy texture to the softer or crunchier vegetables (depending on how well you stir fry them). There’s not a lot of ingredients in this recipe, making it super easy to make once again, but the health benefits are evident in that ingredients list. Fans of stir fries should enjoy this refreshing, chunky meal that can once again work as a side dish or a main.

Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Twitter: @StrtegicRetweet

Distributed by: Murdoch Books
Released: March 2022
RRP: $49.99 hardcover

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not Glam Adelaide.


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