Mehendra and Swikriti – Newark, CA

Whenever you walk into someone’s home, it’s always interesting and necessary to familiarize yourself with their art, their presence, their vibe, their scent, their layout.

This house was warm and inviting. There were signs of life everywhere and the enveloping wafts of garlic and spice floating around. It was like walking into my own mothers kitchen – someone handed me a glass of wine and offered me a hug before I’d even sat down.

There were trays and dishes of beautifully crafted Nepalese foods on the counter. Mehendra, has been in the United States for 10 years and Swikriti has been in the U.S. on her newly acquired visa for less than a month. Between the two of them, they were able to convey the story of Nepal and what life is like in Kathmandu. The tales unfolded while the pressure cooker steamed and the spices melded.

The altitude in Nepal varies widely, ranging from 60 feet to 21,000 feet – which creates a diverse landscape of culinary culture, climate patterns and produces a wide range of fresh produce. The two most prevalent crops are corn and marijuana followed by tomatoes, peppers, okra, beans, legumes, gourds and rice.

Mehendra was quick to say that corn is the poor mans food. You never serve corn, to a guest, in your home.
(no corn in sight…!)

High in the mountains, you have to use a pressure cooker to cook your meat. And to demonstrate, Swikriti had goat meat from a local chinese market happily simmering away on the stovetop. Mealtimes in Nepal are quite different from those in the U.S. Around 9 or 10 AM there is lunch (but it was what I would call brunch). Sometime in the afternoon around 3 or 4pm there is a snack consisting of biscuits and tea. Dinner is served late around 9 or 10PM.

This eating schedule accompanies a much more tranquil and relaxed work schedule. Most work weeks are 10-5PM Sunday (Most people in Nepal are Hindu) through Thursday with a half day on Fridays from 10-3PM. Saturdays are free days.

(Cauliflower Achar Sadheko** recipe below)

After we ate dinner together and transcribed recipes from one language to another. It was time for the entertainment to begin. The house pet, age 9, Jinee, came and danced for us. She sang. She danced. She re-enacted talent show performances. She showed us one-armed cartwheels and demonstrated how many somersaults she could do in a row.

It really was just like being at home.

1. Cut Cabbage into small pieces, put into clean dish, set aside
2. Heat 2 TBLSP Oil (Vegetable or Mustard Oil) in a pan
3. Once heated, add several pinches of black sesame seeds
4. After toasting/frying seeds for 60 seconds pour the mixture over the cut cabbage
5. Add Salt & Pepper to taste

This is a very refreshing dish that helps balance the other warmer, hotter, spicier, richer foods.

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