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11 December 2013 / leggypeggy

A brilliant cook shines anywhere in the world

Bush kitchen

A simple kitchen that produces amazing results

After six weeks of eating my way through India, I have to tell you about the fellow who must be the nation’s best chef.

Assuming that I can read his handwriting, his name is Brij Mohan (I knew Mohan was right and Deepti told me the right first name). Brij cooks at the Three Blind Mice resort on the shores of the northern Ganges River.

Simple kitchen, India

Two burners can work wonders

It’s where the river waters run beautifully clean, the sand is soft, the tents are already set up, the toilets are long-drops, an ashram with a spiritually important cave is next door and the food is sensational.

Binj Mohan at work in the kitchen

Binj Mohan at work in the kitchen

I had a grumpy start to Three Blind Mice. It’s winter in India and even though it wasn’t all that late, we arrived after dark. That’s when I discovered that getting to the camp was all down a steep and unlit hill.

Poor John—aka He Who Walks Everywhere—scampered down the hill, leaving me to fend for myself. This was going to be a 10-minute downhill struggle of huge stone steps and loose gravel. Gary gets a gold star for staying behind to shepherd me down the ‘stairs’.

As I often say, the chances of me falling are small, but the consequences of me falling are huge.

Once we reached the bottom, it was impossible to appreciate the sensational setting (that would not be revealed until the next morning), but it was very easy to appreciate the wonderful meal set before us.

I can hardly remember the order in which wonderful dishes were served to us, but not one dish disappointed.

We had several days of meals there—plus snacks—and enjoyed dishes with chicken, chickpeas, paneer, eggs, all kinds of breads, peas, cauliflower and so much more.

On our last morning, I went up to the ‘kitchen’ to photograph and quiz Brij.

Scrambling eggs, India

Some great chilli-flavoured scrambled eggs  in production

He’s a Punjab and he trained in large hotels. I’m not quite sure how he ended up in a seasonal resort, but his cooking would get him a place in a top Indian restaurant anywhere in the world. I’m guessing he loves his new lifestyle because it is a gorgeous setting.

Rather cheekily I asked Brij if he could make seven days worth of new meals if guests were to stay that long. Of course, he said. So I asked if he could make 30 days worth of new meals. Yes, he said, but I’d need electricity and an oven.

And that comment reminded me that all the wonderful fare he had made for us had been done on two gas rings and in a shack made of sticks. I can hardly believe how he achieves all that he does.

He is clearly proud of his work, and I’ve urged Three Blind Mice and Brij to compile a cookbook of his dishes. He wrote out five of his recipes for me, but they are ingredient-only lists with no measurements.

Lots of his words are written in English versions of Hindi, so I’m figuring out that tejpatta refers to bay leaves, badi elechi is black cardamom, jeera is cumin and so on. Brij’s handwriting is open to interpretation, and I can only hope my spellings are right.

I may have to go back to watch over his shoulder as he cooks. His amazing recipes certainly deserve to be recorded and shared. I’ll do my best to collect and share. Stay tuned.

13 Comments

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  1. Frankie smith / Dec 11 2013 11:16 pm

    I wish I could have tasted and smelled that wonderful food.

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    • leggypeggy / Dec 12 2013 8:48 am

      I wish everyone could have enjoyed it too. Really fabulous food.

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  2. Lesley Snow / Dec 12 2013 5:41 am

    Isn’t that amazing! And we NEED 2 ovens, a microwave, a five or 6 burner cooktop to put together something edible. Looking forward to your interpretations of his recipes!

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    • leggypeggy / Dec 12 2013 8:34 am

      It really is extraordinary how much he could do with so little. I only hope I can translate his scribblings into something tasty.

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  3. Rhonda / Dec 12 2013 7:26 am

    What an unexpected and delicious surprise for you! I’ll be looking forward to seeing your versions of his recipes.

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    • leggypeggy / Dec 12 2013 8:38 am

      I suspect it’s going to take me a while and lots of experimentation.

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  4. Joanne T Ferguson (@mickeydownunder) / Dec 12 2013 12:53 pm

    Must be karma Peggy, true!
    Recognition and appreciation go a long way and looks like your group lucked out when they got Binj to cook for all of you!
    Cheers! Joanne

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    • leggypeggy / Dec 12 2013 10:11 pm

      We were very lucky indeed. Binj’s food was sensational.

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  5. louie / Dec 12 2013 11:30 pm

    Can’t WAIT ’till your next curry nite… but here’s a challenge – how about the two gas rings, straw shack optional…

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    • leggypeggy / Dec 13 2013 3:29 pm

      I bought five cookbooks there, so am expanding my repertoire. I’m happy to give two gas rings a try—although Binj did have three assistants and I have none.

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  6. prayaanindia / Dec 15 2013 11:06 pm

    Oh my god! The food in “Camp three blind mice” was yummmmmmmmmmmmmm!! I still have taste of that matar paneer in my mouth.. if i will get free time these days i would like to go there again for special meal!! Peggy his name is “Brij mohan”

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    • leggypeggy / Dec 15 2013 11:08 pm

      Oh thanks so much for correcting his name. I’ll go fix it in the story and one other place. His food is sensational.

      Like

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