True Romance: Bear Necessities in the Dhauladhar

Rhododendron in DhauladharI was trekking in the hills above Dharamsala with my better half the other week when a man offered me a beautiful red flower. Standing next to my man I felt kind of awkward that another man had produced a floral gift, however this feeling soon subsided.

What he’d given me was a rhododendron (known locally as Guras) and little did I know it was a tasty Himalayan snack. Apparently it is used to make jams, juices and chutneys by the locals and it is even thought to have properties that help with heart ailments and blood pressure. It tastes good, slightly bitter but yeah, nice. And here comes the best part – bears love it. No, we aren’t talking Winnie the Pooh here. Forget your cute red-t-shirted bear with a sticky honey pot. We’re talking about the Himalayan brown bear folks, otherwise known as ‘Dzu-The’ or yeti, and yes he likes to eat flowers. Badass.

So, there are two lessons to be learned from this incident…

Firstly, if you’re trekking in the Dhauladhars or some other part of these here mountains, you know what to do if you come across a big brown bear: pacify him with his most favourite delicious snack, then recover from your heart attack and lower your blood pressure by partaking in some guras yourself.   Not sure what to advise you about your soiled undergarments, mind you.

Secondly, a flower is not always a romantic gesture. It could very well turn out to be a great chutney ingredient. Get over yourself.

Know your physical sustenance from your emotional sustenance; they are but mere morsels for us mere mortals.

Rocky Road Trekballs

Sustenance is of huge importance when you’re out on the trail.  Anyone who’s ever trekked knows that keeping your body energised and hydrated can make or break your trip.  With this in mind we’d like to share a series of recipes for delicious and energy-boosting food for the road.  We’d also love to hear from you if you have any favourite trekking/riding snacks, please share your recipe!!!

Rocky Road Tsampa Trekballs

Tsampa is roasted barley flour from Tibet and is a top choice for the trail due to its nutritional qualities and ability to fill you up.  Tsampa is widely available here in Dharamsala due to the fact that it is the principal Tibetan settlement in India.  Tsampa is beginning to be a bit more widely available in the West also.

Here’s our recipe for quick and easy tsampa snacks:

1 cup tsampa

2-3 tablespoons melted butter

3 tablespoons crushed peanuts (or other nuts)

3 tablespoons crushed oreo cookies, maltesers, butter biscuits (or chocolate/biscuits of your choice)

Handful of chopped marshmallows

2 tablespoons honey

Cocoa powder for dusting

Desiccated coconut (for coating)

Combine all the above ingredients (except the cocoa and coconut) in a bowl (or food processor if you have one) and mix thorougly.  Roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls and roll firstly in the cocoa powder to coat, then in the coconut.  Voila, some Himalayan-inspired Rocky Road, for the road.

Rocky Road Trekballs