Sherpa Potato Pancakes
Perhaps the most delicious, wholesome and representative recipe that the Sherpa people have to offer is the potato pancake with hot sauce. Western tastes usually expect a sweet flavor from pancakes, but that's not the way it's done in the Himalayas. The Sherpa people subsist largely on their crops of potatoes and barley, and they have found many ways to combine those staples for interesting textures and nutritious recipes. In a typical day their diet will involve some grains and two or three variations of potato creations. The potato pancake is prepared simply from peeled and finely grated potato mixed with barley flour then cooked in oil to hot and golden goodness. The grater is typically constructed with a pie tin that has been punctured repeatedly across the bottom with the sharp end of a nail. The secret to the flavor is in the hot sauce, korsani, that is a mix of sour cream, nak cheese (or bleu cheese for more punch), ground hot peppers (such as habaneras) and seasoning to taste. Garnishing with nak butter and slathering with the hot sauce makes for a very spicy and filling meal.
The whole process is a bit labor intensive, so it's a good idea to get together with some help and to promise you'll share some of the pancakes. The typical potato that the Sherpas will grow is relatively small, so you'll need to clean and peel quite a few of them to amount to a decent batch. The finely grated potatoes come out in more of a runny pulp that the more convenient shreds like in hash browns. Traditionally the process was even more tedious since they would only use a jagged stone face to rub down the potatoes. It is all worth it on the cold days because the next step is to stand next to the wood- or yak dung-burning stove in the kitchen and to fry the pancakes in a heavy iron griddle. It takes several minutes on each side to bring a blush of golden brown, but when you flop it on your place and generously spread the hot sauce, it warms you in every way. It is customary to hold it on your plate and to use your right hand to break off pieces and mop up the hot sauce. For unmentionable and unappetizing reasons the left hand is taboo, but if you forgot to wash your right hand it will turn out just as badly for you. A fork certainly is optional.