Yesterday morning we woke up to a Thimphu covered in a thick white blanket of snow. Unusual not because we don't ever get snow but because usually we see a light snowfall that melts almost as soon as it settles. This time the snow came down so thick and heavy and that is stayed all day into the next one. My facebook and twitter were full of people's photos of the snow including snowmen, snow-women and even one snow-buddha. My mother and my brother, Sonny took the opportunity to make and serve up a typical Bhutanese cold weather meal: Bathup or soup with homemade noodles.
Below are the assembled ingredients minus the homemade noodles. To left you see a basket of chopped leafy greens (my mother likes to use mustard greens but any other leaf green is likely to work), onions, garlic , ginger and some potato. Potato is not a standard Bathup ingredient but my
mother likes the way it melts in the soup to give it a lovely thick consistency. To the right are salt, chili power, sichuan pepper ( or thingay in Dzongkha) and of course bones. Bones are critical to making a savory and hearty stock for the noodles. My mother puts everything ,except the greens and thingay (that goes into the soup absolutely last) into a pressure cooker, adds a tiny bit of vegetable stock powder and lets it all cook until the bones are completely cooked.
In the meantime Sonny prepares the dough to make the noodles. To make the mixture he blends two parts of atta ( or whole wheat flour) with half a part of maida ( or white flour) and warm water. The mixture of flours gives the noodle a nice texture. Below you can see the kind of consistencythat you need to aim for.
The flour is then rolled out and Sonny used a serrated pizza cutter to slice the dough into noodles. He also used the straight edge of a salad serving soup to make straight and consistently sized noodles.
The cut noodles are kept in a bowl that has flour in it and tossed regularly ( ideally with each addition of newly cut noodles) to keep the noodles from sticking together or clumping.
Once the meat it judged to be cooked, its time to add the chopped mustard greens. These are stirred into the soup and the pressure cooker is now left open and used like a regular cooking pan.
Once the soup comes to a boil again its time to add the homemade noodles. Sonny is careful not to stir too vigorous as this might ruin the noodles. He gently stirs in the noodles, makes sure all of them are completely submerged in the soup.
Now its time to add the thingay. My mother has had some thingay sitting on the warm stove as the soup was made ( not over a lit flame but just sitting out on the stove ) so that they are lightly toasted. Now she crushes them into a coarse powder before adding it to the soup.
As a final touch my mother chops some green onion directly into the soup before serving.
And there you have it, the perfect snowy day meal!