Cooking the Changpa way
Fast forward to August (2015). I was back in Ladakh on a video assignment for Royal Enfield.
During this trip I spent a few days at the beautiful Kyun Tso lake. The grasslands around the lake are locally known as Kyun Ding and theyprovide some of the best grazing grounds in Ladakh. A lot of Changpa nomads from Hanle and Nyoma camp here during the summer months.
I stayed with a group of nomads from Nyoma. They provided me a place to sleep and shared their food with me. Everyday, after breakfast, they would take their herds of sheep out to graze and I would ride my motor-bike to different spots around the lake to shoot my time-lapse videos. In the afternoon we would meet somewhere up on the hill side for tea and chat a while.
They had a wonderfully simple way of making tea up in the hills. A makeshift stove is assembled out of a few pieces of stone. Instead of burning wood, they burn dried goat and horse pellets (droppings) that scattered all over the area. These pellets are basically just undigested grass and they burn really well when lighted with the help of some kerosene.
Once lighted the pellets just keep burning even in high winds. They do burn very quickly though and you need to keep adding more to the fire and a bit of kerosene now and then to keep it fresh. It all looked very easy and fool proof.
Before you ask, this is not new to me. I'am very familiar with people cooking with wood or gobar in their kitchens but I was definitely surprised with how well this makeshift stove worked out in the open windy plains of Ladakh. I definitely want to try it out on my next camping foray in Ladakh.
It is not going to replace my MSR stove. But it is nice to have a backup option when the stove stops working or when fuel is running low.