Ex-Gurkha tastes success as chef

1:30pm Monday 19th November 2012

By Joanne Mace

A FORMER Gurkha has come up with a recipe for success with the release of his debut Nepalese cookery book.

Pemba Lama met writer and prominent Gurkha supporter Annie Watsham through the online community she set up in 2009.

Annie, who originally suggested to Joanna Lumley that she become involved in the Gurkha Justice Campaign, found out that he had saved a wealth of recipes during his career and suggested that they collaborate on The Ultimate Nepalese Cook Book.

Mr Lama, who now lives in Eastrop, Basingstoke, served in the British Army for 23 years as a senior Gurkha catering officer, cooking in a multitude of countries.

After retiring, he joined the Civil Service as a specialist instructional officer at the Defence Food Services School, in Aldershot, and presently teaches armed forces chefs and civilians in Winchester.

Speaking about the book, Mr Lama, 51, said: “I’m really overwhelmed and excited because it’s a huge achievement, but Annie really is the lady behind this. I am just a chef and I didn’t know what to do to get a book.”

The Ultimate Nepalese Cook Book delves into the food of the country, which is a unique fusion of Chinese, Tibetan and Indian cuisine thanks to its land-locked location. Desserts have been contributed by award-winning British chef Nicci Gurr.

Joanna Lumley, responding in a letter after receiving a copy of the book, wrote: “A marvellous cookbook! The recipes are mouth-watering and will bring an authentic taste of Nepal to countless grateful kitchens”.

Earlier this year, Mr Lama, through his position as general secretary of the Buddhist Community Centre UK, based in Camberley, also had the opportunity to present a copy to the Dalai Lama.

Mr Lama recalled: “It was really nice to have him next to me while I was cooking. I cooked vegetarian dishes I knew he’d like because I grew up in a Tibetan family in India.

“He felt it was homely food, and had a good laugh and also grabbed my kitchen staff for a photograph. We gave him a copy and my daughter Kessang asked him to sign one too.”

For every copy of the book that is sold, a donation will be made to the Gurkha Welfare Trust.

Mr Lama added: “As I am a retired soldier, I thought it was an excellent idea. I am happy and glad to be contributing something.”

Anyone who is interested in buying the book needs to go online and put the title into the search engine.


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