Pizza with a northern twist: Inuktitut cookbook offers new spin on Inuit cooking

Annie Desilets enjoys some time with the cooks who worked with her on the cookbook, including Micah Arreak, Glenda Kripanik and Kanadaise Uyarasuk. Missing from the photo is Lucy Kappianaq. (Inhabit Media)
Its pages feature a smorgasbord of delectable dishes, including ramen, tartare, pizza and stroganoff, but the recipes feature Arctic char, seal, whale and caribou.

Niqilurniq is a new cookbook written in Inuktitut Roman orthography. It was compiled by Annie Desilets, who went to school for cooking at the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec in Montreal. She worked on the book with four Inuit women in Igloolik (Canadian eastern Arctic) — Micah Arreak, Lucy Kappianaq, Glenda Kripanik and Kanadaise Uyarasuk.

Desilets says the idea came to her in 2012, when she was giving cooking lessons in the community.

“I could see there was a lot of interest into learning how to cook, and interest into sharing recipes in the community,” she said.

“There’s not [many] recipes you can find with country food in books, or on the internet, and lots of recipes are difficult to do because you can’t find the ingredients in small community stores. So this cookbook takes care of this reality.”

This pizza is topped with Arctic char. (Inhabit Media)

It’s split into three sections: imaq, food from the sea; nuna, food from the land; and palaugaat, which is bread recipes.

“We decided not to do like entrees, main dish and this stuff because it’s very like southerners’ way of thinking,” said Desilets.

The book doesn’t just offer recipes — it also gives nutrition tips.

Desilets said she hopes the book inspires readers to link country food with the types of food available in stores, and give an alternative to prepackaged foods.

“It was important for us to share this knowledge so people can make better choices, know more about what they’re eating,” she said.

“And personally, as a cook, I just wanted to share the joy of cooking.”

Niqilurniq is only available in Inuktitut right now, but Desilets says Inhabit Media is working on an English version. It’s for sale on the Inhabit Media website and offered for free as a PDF on the Nunavut Bilingual Education Society website.

As for Nunavummiut (residents of Nunavut) who might want to share their own recipes?

“I encourage people from other communities to do [it],” said Desilets. “It’s … so much fun to do, just sharing recipes, trying it together.”

Written by Randi Beers, based on an interview by Salome Avva

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Inuk chef sharing Arctic food at Ottawa culinary event, CBC News

China: Arctic Indigenous food culture takes the day at international cookbook awards, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finns eat too much meat, study says, Yle News

Norway: Norway’s seafood exports continue to grow, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedes eating less meat than before, Radio Sweden

United States: This Alaskan spice shop brings new flavors to Indigenous dishes, Alaska Public Media

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