You will recognize them distinctly in a crowd.
Their favourite hang-out being the blocks around the Pudu bus station, which is one of the busiest areas in down-town KL.
To many foreigners, when they think of Nepal, the image invariably is of a remote mountainous country with its snow covered Himalayan peaks, deep valleys, and Mongoloid people quietly tilling their hill terraced farms.
When Malaysians think Nepalese, they think immigrant workers, strange food and a race that they sometime do not quite understand or trust.
The Nepali cuisine, also known as the cuisine of the Himalayas, bears its uniqueness by incorporating the two great culinary traditions of the region, Indian and Tibetan, into a mainstream culinary culture of its own, which reflects the geographic and demographic diversity of the Himalayas. Nepal, a tiny country by any geographic measurements, stretches from the lowlands of the sub-tropical Terai plains in the south to the highlands of the Himalayas, as dominated by the majestic reign of Mt. Everest, in the north. Hence, Nepal has resurrected its own unique cultural identity into a harmonious culture, combining different traditions of different indigenous cultures rooting on all corners of the country.
We went in search of The Khukri (which means Dagger in napalese), because it has been touted as the most ‘trendy’ and foreigner friendly of the lot. Great nepalese food at affordable prices we heard.. we could not wait to get cracking… but, erm.. first, we had to find the place.
Eek.. I hung close to my man… worried that I would get lynched at the next corner…
Phew we made it! Sweating like a pig… (from anxiety as well as the noon day heat), I demand they give me a cold drink quick!
Pop-corn for starters..
Recycled paper for a menu! How cool!
As if to read my mind, the sassy waitress tells me to order and sends over a tall, cold glass of Mahi – This is a traditional drink in Nepal. It is made from dahi (yogurt like milk product) prepared from whole or skimmed milk dahi fermented either by natural souring or by ‘artificial’ lactic acid bacteria.
In India, mahi is known as lassi and largely used as a liquid drink. In Nepal, mahi is consumed as a drink as well as with food.
It slinked down my throat like water from an oasis to a camel in the sweltering SAHARA.
The food of Nepal is as diverse as the country itself. The Nepalese recipes are quick to cook and good to eat. Nepalese food is famous for its nutrition level and tempting taste. Whilst Nepalese cuisine is somewhat basic, it certainly does not lack in flavor, making extensive use of spices and flavorings such as ginger, garlic, coriander, pepper, cumin, chilies, cilantro, mustard oil, ghee and occasionally yak butter.
Now we were ready to start with the Momo! What is a momo? They are dumplings filled with minced meat, served steamed or fried. A terrifically popular appetizer, afternoon snack or evening meal. We chose lamb out off all the meat options, and rightly so. It was moist and fragrant with coriander and dry spices, and the skin was perfectly al-dante.
The coriander and spices took the edge off what would otherwise have been ‘gamy’ tasting lamb stuffing… The sweet soup accompanying the dumplings is pungent, whilst meaty in flavour. Heaven in a bite!
When we courageously ordered the Dhedo, our sassy lady waitress looked skeptical as if to say “are you sure you can stomach the Dhedo.. you Chinese amateur…”
Haha… kidding.. but honestly she looked really dubious.
The Dhedo, in reality, we soon found, resembles half a sphere of a brown substance with a volcano, crater-like indent at the top, filled with GHEE! This stodgy lump of thickened flour, will not suit everyone’s taste-buds.
I.e. it has a slightly gummy and fibrous texture but bland taste (like saw dust ! haha… kidding) which amazingly went great with the accompanying curries and gundruk (vegetables). Because of harsh conditions prevailing in the highlands of the Himalayas, foods are preserved by dehydrating or fermenting staple ingredients during their growing season. Examples include Sukuti – dehydrated meat and Gundruk – fermented vegetables.
Feeling emboldened by being able to stomach the Dhedo, we proceeded to order the Sukuti ra bhat. Sukuti is dried buffalo meat! Black and chewy like beef JERKY, they resemble little black square CUBES! I chewed till my jaw was sore I tell ya! For this dish the jerky is grilled over charcoal or wood, and then simmered till dry with tomatoes, onions, and lots of chopped cilantro leaves and stems. It was good.. but a little too hard for me…
Finally after a long negotiation with my man (who isn’t as into/a fan of, the spare-parts, as I am), we had the Poleko Khan, which was roasted whole TONGUE and EAR of the pig, with achar. Animal FAT, meat and cartilage… cut into bite sizes..
Again I was Gobsmacked. Speechless. Over the moon.
The dish was chewy with a nice barbeque flavour and that typical Himalayan meaty pungence and feel.
Time to go home and unwind…
Hmmm… some place safe and a little less unfamiliar would suit me just fine, right about now..
26 Jalan Silang,
Pudu, Kuala Lumpur.
Price: for 2 persons, RM40… affordable!
Service: V good
MSG levels: nil
Salt levels : high
Ghee levels : VERY high!