Hoi lo Garma is one of the Hunza dishes tourists have been talking about in their travel blogs and call it spinach with chapatti strips. It is locally known as Garma. Here I will share what actually this dish is and how we Hunzukz (people of Hunza) make it in the original and authentic way.
Garma refers to the whole dish when put together. It is one of the dishes we can relate to a version of pasta dishes that exist in Hunza Cuisine and is one of the scrumptious meals popular among people of Hunza. Hoi in this dish refers to the Mustard greens which resemble Buk Choy but they have more vibrant green color than the dark green color of Buk Choy. It seems to me as they are interbreeding of Napa cabbage popular to Koreans and Buk Choy to Chinese. In winters Hunzukz uses them as replacement of lettuce for the salad with lentil curries that include black lentil curry and they taste a bit sweeter in winter.
Hunza people typically have a joint family system and women are supposed to cook for the whole family.The family usually consist of average 10 people and sometimes more. It is, therefore, Hunza food has no concept of single serving recipe ratio as food is always cooked in large quantities for the large family. Every ingredient in Hunza cuisine is used as per one preferred taste ratios. The recipe for Hoi lo Garma has same rules applied. It’s totally up to you whether to make it more spicy and savory, make it more soupy or dry according to your likeness.
Here I will share the original ways of cooking Hoi lo Garma in Hunza Kitchens. The ingredients use are as follows
Wash the mustard greens and roughly chopped them. It is a common practice in Hunza to shred the mustard leaves with hands without using any tools such as knives.
Clean and peel the organic potatoes.In Hunza we always peel potatoes. Cut these potatoes into small pieces. The ratio of potatoes is always lower than mustard greens for this dish.
Into a pan pour the cooking oil and sauté’ the onions. Before they turn brown add potatoes and the seasonings (salt). There are two ways of cooking these potatoes. Either keep stirring until they soften enough or add a splash of water after minutes of adding potatoes. In both case, keep the flame low since we don’t want to burn the onion and potatoes and resulting brown color is undesirable for this dish. Cover the lid and let potatoes cook through.
It takes around 5 minutes for potatoes to cook and then it’s time to add mustard greens and green chilies.when the mustard greens wilt down and half cooked add water and cover the lid till it starts to boil.
Preparing the local Hunza pasta:
Hunza people use wheat flour for almost all the bread recipes and same goes in this dish. Wheat flour seasoned with salt is kneaded with water and thin circular flatbread (chapattis/roti) are made.
Add the thin flatbreads (roti) one by one to the boiling mixture and let it cook. Next, break the cooked flatbread into pieces with a spoon in the same pan and add next roti. Repeat the same process until the potatoes, mustard greens and Roti ratio meets your desired consistency.
Finally, the last step is to serve the dish while it is hot enough to handle. However, the traditional way of serving Garam is with a simple salad which includes chopped tomatoes, green onions and greens chilies seasoned with salt. I have noticed adding lemon juice takes this dish to the next level of deliciousness.