tsampa, momo, lephing and more!
Who doesn’t love Dre-ngo ? Has it been a while since you had some ? You love it but don’t know how its made? Well, today’s your lucky day – I’m here to tell you how to make it!!!
While I was in Dharamsala last month, I came across an old Tibetan lady, with small spread of a few of bags of dre-ngo, chura, and tsampa in a makeshift shop, right in front of the Tsuglakhang gate. I was in quite a bit of a hurry but the dre-ngo immediately caught my eye and I had to stop. I said, “Amala, dre-ngo shimdo khapo chig du – drowa ta na digi rey pey ?” (Amala, Dre-ngo looks very good, can I have a taste?). She leans over and pulls one bag over, unwraps the knot, opens it and offers me a taste, “Here, taste it – its fresh and very good.” It was really very good dre-ngo – with the right crispiness and texture. I wanted to bring some home with me, back to the United States but my cheap air carrier only allows one check in bag – and a pound or two of dre-ngo would take up quite a bit of my weight allowance. Still I didn’t give it a second thought – the taste of the delicious dre-ngo overcame common sense and I asked her how much is the cost for a bag of dre-ngo and that I would take two. The old lady – gave me a look, and she said, “Bumo (Daughter), the dre-ngo bags are eighty rupees each. I and my old man who is too ill to walk survive on what I earn from the sale of my dre-ngo and tsampa. We old people don’t have much – you can pay whatever you like for it.” She’d obviously decided I was not a Dharamsala resident and that I would probably pay more than the usual eighty rupees for a bag of dre-ngo. She was a smart old lady with grit and attitude and I was sold. I asked her to add a bag of Chura(dried cheese) to the two bags of dre-ngo, and I paid her more than I should have. She smiled as I said, “Amala, you are a smart one. Your old man is lucky. Take care of your healths. I will come back for more dre-ngo next year when I visit.” I forgot to take her photo but if any of you readers meet her, do ask her name and also send me a photograph. I would really like to post it here.
Any way, after returning home, my family and I enjoyed the dre-ngo – delicious while it lasted but the bag was empty in no time and we wanted more. So I decided to try and make some. I remembered my mother-in-law once told me that her friend makes very good dre-ngo and it is very easy. All you have to do if dry-fry the rice on a hot pan. She said Uncle Ben’s rice is the best rice to use. Uncle Ben’s rice is found in supermarkets across america – the rice goes through a steaming and vaccuum drying process – it’s dry but its been sort of pre-cooked. I bought a box of Uncle Ben’s rice and result is what you see below – delicious soft, crunchy dre-ngo. If there is no Uncle Ben’s rice in your area, then soak the rice overnight, let drain completely, spread out on a clean cloth and let dry for 15 minutes to a half hour, and proceed as detailed below.
Dre-ngo can be enjoyed by itself, dry .. or added to sweet tea or butter tea. Some add a sprinkling of sugar to the dry dre-ngo and this adds a little sweetness to the flavor.
2 cups rice (Uncle Ben’s Rice / Parboiled Rice if available) Otherwise, any kind of rice will do. Soak overnight, let drain completely, spread out on a clean cloth and let dry for a half hour.
1 tablespoon oil or butter
Heat a large pan or wok until it is very very hot. Set at about medium high heat. You can test what works for you best.
Once the pan is hot, add 1/2 cup of uncle ben’s rice(or the soaked and drained rice).
[The oil isn’t necessary but I used it to wipe the surface of the pan with a thin layer of oil. I used a stainless steel pan and it helped keep the pan surface smooth and the rice didn’t stick to it at all. ]
Continue stirring so that rice begins to roast uniformly – you will hear the rice crackling and opening out like popcorn. One pan with 1/2 cup rice will be done in about 3-4 minutes.