Karma Martam Retreat is our newest India resort – nestled amid the stunning mountains, valleys and lakes of Sikkim, this Himalayan retreat makes the most of the region’s rich culinary traditions as interpreted by new chef Karma Lepcha. Karma took some time out from his busy kitchen schedule to answer a few questions about his approach to cooking and share a classic local recipe. Stay tuned for more recipes from Karma in upcoming editions…
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Sikkim but grew up in a few different states, including Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal and of course Sikkim.
How did you get into cooking?
I was in a monastery where I learned how to make many authentic local dishes. My father is also a chef and seeing him explore many different places and culinary techniques helped give me my passion for cooking.
What (Who) has been your biggest inspiration?
My father is the biggest inspiration on my culinary journey. I learned so much from him.
What is your first food memory?
My first food memory would have to be eating momos (steamed dumplings with various fillings that originated in Tibet) for the first time. Although momos are a staple street food nowadays, our Sikkim version is something totally different and special… which is probably why my first taste of it has stayed with me forever!
What are your plans for Karma Martam Retreat food wise?
Being a local guy, I’ve created a locally inspired menu with many classic dishes from the region. At the same time, our menu includes a wide variety of dishes from around the world in addition to our signature Sikkim offerings.
What are the best things about local Indian ingredients
I love how everything is so fresh – rich, earthy flavours, intense and fragrant spices which I like to use sparingly so I don’t overpower my dishes. And of course, being able to use such a wide variety of seasonal ingredients.
Describe your approach to cooking in three words
Basics, Practice, Consistency.
What dish do you always return to?
That’s a hard one – I can’t really pick one dish, but I always come back to my local Sikkim cuisine – momos of course, but also Thupka (spicy broth), Dal Bhaat and many others!
Why should we eat at the restaurant?
That’s easy – home cooking is great, but it’s also wonderful to discover new culinary traditions – we serve truly authentic Sikkim cuisine, using the finest ingredients – plus many international favourites 🙂