Tra-Gyuma A la Tenzing Barshee La
* This recipe is not for the faint of heart.*
My friend, Tenzing Barshee la has created a Losar tradition for himself and his family. Every Losar, without fail, Tenzing la makes Tibetan Tra-gyuma from scratch, and this is something that all of us who visit his home on Losar look forward to. Every year, we tease him – “have you made the gyuma yet?” … thinking he may have given up on such hard work but no, he’ll usually grin and say, “Yoe tha, yoe tha – Losar la phey sho aa, gyuma tsa-po chig kyag go.” The grin and the words have the usual naughty Tibetan double entendre teasing going on. But such is how traditions are to be kept alive, with spirit and happiness, making it a fun activity. I couldn’t have been more thrilled when Tenzing la said that he’ll be happy to share his Tra-gyuma recipe with readers of Simply Tibetan Simply Delicious. Tenzing la says that this recipe was taught to him by his mother-in-law.
Tra-Gyuma A la Tenzing Barshee la
1 Gallon of Blood (Order frozen blood from your local butcher or some asian markets carry them too).
2lbs Ground Beef
4 1/2 cups of rice (uncooked – preferably a thicker grain rice)
2 cups Oatmeal
2 lbs (veal or lamb casing) you can also use synthetic casing but this doesn’t have any fat, so the taste will be completely different
30-40 short 4 inch strings for tying the sausage links
1 needle or toothpick
2 Tablespoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Pepper
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (not traditional but Tenzingla’s addition)
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
- One day ahead, take the blood out of the freezer and let it defrost completely.
- Cook the rice: Cook the rice and then set it aside to cool.
- Clean the casing: This is a lot of work and needs a lot of patience and dexterity. You have to pull and scrub under running tap water to get all the nasty intestinal goop of it but at the same time, you have to be careful not to scrub off the fat clinging on the casing. This fat is a necessity for good tasting gyuma.
- Reverse the casing: The next step is to reverse the casing, so that the fat is inside and the smooth inside is turned out. Using your finger, folded over one end of the casing like the cuff of a pant. Hold the tip of the folded part, under gentle running tap water and let it fill with water so that the weight of the water will gently pull the casing inside out. Once turned inside out, you have to do another thorough cleaning – to get rid of all the mucous clinging to the outside. Scrub and rinse until the water runs clean. Do this to all the casings. If you find it too long, you can cut it into more manageable lengths.
- Gyuma Stuffing: Nicely shake the gallon of blood properly – this helps mix the blood well. When left sitting, blood plasma tends to separate from blood and water and accumulate on the top. So you want to shake it well and then pour the blood into a large deep container or dish. Add the ground beef, cooked rice and the oatmeal. Add the spices and gently mix it together. The consistency will be pretty liquidy. You have to keep stirring this every now and then, as the blood coagulates very quickly.
- Filling the Gyuma: The filling mixture is pretty liquidy, so it can get quite messy. Best to do this in the sink. Attach one end of the casing to the end of a funnel, pull it up and hold it tight. Then start filling by slowly ladling the stuffing into the funnel – you can use a chopstick to push through the filling into the casing. Gently squeeze and push the stuffing down the casing until it is filled all the way till the tip. Once you’re close to the end, gently run your hand over, pushing any air bubbles to the end, and then tie it with a string. Make sure your sausage isn’t filled too much – it shouldn’t be too round, it should be flattish – you should remove some of the filling if it is turning out too fat. After the casing is completely filled to your satisfaction, you can start making the links. Starting from the end that is tied, gently run your hand over, pushing air bubbles and form the links by tying them every eight inches or so until the end. After every 4 or 5 links, you can tie second knot with the string leaving just a short bit of casing in between the two knots, so you can cut through into two separate sausages for easier handling.
- Boiling: Once all your sausages are filled, fill a large pot with water. Once the water boils, add some of your sausage links. This is when you have to form the sausages, as the filling is quite liquidy, you may find that the sausages have lost their shape as you put them in the pot. You can gently use a spatula or two to coax them back into shape. Let them boil then, and as they rise to the surface, take a needle or toothpick to poke them – this helps let out any air bubbles in the sausage and also tells you if they are cooked or not. If there is no blood oozing out from the pricks, then the sausage is done. Take them off and let cool. The sausage will darken considerably upon cooling.
- They can be then sliced and fried or eaten or stored. Please enjoy.