Rather than filling test tubes and making astute observations in the chemistry and biology labs, many students did their experimenting in the main dining facilities on Tuesday, testing their taste buds with some exotic new flavors and aromas from Tibet.
A scrumptious series of monthly Tibetan lunches began Tuesday at Asa, Court and Rathbone Dining Halls. The idea is to literally give the university community a taste of Tibetan culture in the months leading up to the historic visit by the Dalai Lama in July 2008.
The kick-off meal featured a savory pan-fried sea bass with cilantro and yogurt sauce, accompanied by an Indian eggplant with garlic and tamarind. Beef pastries and sha paley also were served, and the meal was topped off with a sweet cheese dumpling and minya polo for dessert.
The food was a hit with the students, said Gayle Hoben of Dining Services at Rathbone. “We’ve gone through the sea bass quite a bit,” she said.
Not only did students get the chance to taste something different from the usual chicken fingers and salad bar, but they were also excited by the opportunity to experience a new culture.
“I’ve never had this before,” said Tommy George ’11, after spooning the Tibetan food onto his tray at Rathbone. “It’s nice that we’re able to explore and be involved with different cultures.”
Other students were a bit skeptical as they wandered over to the Tibetan station, but were eager to try the entrees just the same. “I’ve never tried a beef patty like this,” said Niall Buckley ’11. “I’m excited to see how it tastes.”
The meals will be served once per month leading up to the historic series of teachings by the Dalai Lama sponsored by the Tibetan Buddhist Learning Center in Washington, N.J., in collaboration with the university. Many of the recipes, chosen by dining services in conjunction with the Dalai Lama Organizing Committee, will come from a Tibetan cookbook entitled The Lhasa Moon; others originate from India, where the Dalai Lama has lived in exile since 1959.
Next month’s menu, to be served on Oct. 25, will feature tofu and pea with cilantro in a red curry sauce, with a flavorful selection of lamb curry, luksha shamdeh, Himalayan chicken and chasha Himalaya. The meal will conclude with a tasty caramel cheese pasta and pasta maku for dessert.
The meal series is designed to add another dimension to the Dalai Lama’s visit by incorporating all five senses into the preparation period. Students, faculty and staff can enjoy the aromatic smells and exotic tastes of Tibet in anticipation of the historic visit.
Special Tibetan lunches also will be served on Nov. 27, Jan. 25, Feb. 25, March 25 and April 25.
The spiritual leader of Tibet, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, will teach for six days at Stabler Arena on Tsong-kha-pa’s Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment: The Lamrim Chenmo
The five-and-a-half days of teaching will take place from July 10-15, 2008. There will be a session each morning and a session each afternoon except for Sunday, July 13, when the Dalai Lama will give a public talk that afternoon at Stabler on “Generating a Good Heart.” He also will answer questions submitted in writing by the audience during his 90-minute public appearance.