Posts Tagged ‘daily life’

Wild about Wings

in booze, chicken, Food, food writing, What to do in Kathmandu

Anyone who knows me well has heard me tell of my love for chicken wings. Sadly, the places that served my favourite chicken wings have closed in the last few years, the buildings they were housed in victims of the earthquake or road enlargement work. So I’m looking for new favourites, and while doing research for an article I found myself in the picturesque courtyard of the DaLai-La hotel in Thamel having a single malt at their wonderfully named bar, Liquid Happiness. I sat and observed the goings on, interspersed with reading Rabi Thapa’s new book, Thamel: Dark Star of Kathmandu, also for an upcoming article. Liquid Happiness has a great bar snacks menu, and of course I went for the chicken wings with house sauce.

Are they my new favourites? No, but they’re pretty darn good. The only thing keeping me from making this place a habit is the price tag – in my case, it’s more special occasion than daily pit-stop. Still, highly recommended for great atmosphere, convivial staff, and excellent food and drink.

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Clear air, mountain views

in daily life, Himalaya, wintertime

These past three days have mostly started off chilly and hazy, and yet each of the last three days have cleared up beautifully by afternoon. Crisp, clear, snow-topped Himalayas stand out in perfect definition against the blue, blue sky. As the sun sets, they turn a beautiful, soft pink. I can’t get enough.

Wonderful winter days that make you happy to live in Nepal.

The Mo:Mo Series — Number 5

in Food, mo: mo, mo:mo series, Nepali dishes, restaurants, wintertime

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These super-awesome incredibly delicious pork mo:mo are from New Dish, a little place tucked upstairs in Kichapokhari, New Road. It’s been open for 26 years but I’ve only just been there for the first time (and the second, and third–already). They have a small menu–amongst which pork mo:mo are the only mo:mo variety–but they are great. Thin-skinned and succulent, served with a simple hot chilli dipping sauce, and a bowl of broth. There used to be a place by my house that served broth with their mo:mos (basically it’s the steaming water, doctored up a little) but they closed and I’ve missed it. This place is already on my favourites list, and with chilly winter weather on the way, I know I will become a regular here.

The Mo:Mo Series — Number 4

in Food, Kathmandu, mo: mo, mo:mo series, Nepali dishes

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So are these top-notch mo:mos? Not exactly. They’re decent though, and the the mix of the two sauces provided (regular tomato and extra chilli) is pretty tasty.

What does make them awesome and fun is that they come from this cute stand out in the parking lot of the Maharajgunj branch of the Bhat Bhateni Supermarket. In case it’s too small to read in the picture, the line on the bottom of the food stall reads, verbatim:

So Long As You have Mo:Mo In Your Mouth, You Have Solved All Questions For The Time Being.

I really can’t argue with that. In fact, it could practically be my motto.

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The Mo:Mo Series — Number 3 (my favourite)

in daily life, mo: mo, mo:mo series, What to do in Kathmandu

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These are, by far and away, my favourite mo:mo. I’ve eaten more of these over the years than I could possibly count.  The New Everest Mo:Mo Centre in Lainchour, next to the campus behind Thamel, serves only one thing–buff mo:mo, cooked in giant steamers. The sauce is a secret combination of ground sesame seeds, chilli powder, and fresh danya (coriander). There’s more in it, too, but I don’t know what. It’s delicious, especially when combined with the flavourful fat that spurts out of the mo:mo when you cut into them. I like to spoon the sauce inside the mo:mo itself for a perfect bite.

Oh wow, just reading over what I’ve written has made me hungry…

A Happy Dog

in animals, Laz the dog

Some pictures of Laz to make you smile. I don’t know what her history was before she adopted me, but she lights up my life in so many ways. Endlessly cheerful and loyal, she loves a belly rub and curried food, and barks when strangers are near, to make me feel safe. Thanks, Laz!

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When the fuel runs out, you get a bicycle

in daily life, fuel crisis, Nepal

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I imagine that for many of you who read this, it’s hard to imagine living in a country that is almost completely dependent upon its neighbours for most basic necessities. But that’s Nepal — landlocked, we share borders with only India and China, and that northern border is pretty much the Himalayas, with only one narrow road in. So, much of what we need–and all fuel/petroleum products–come in through the Terai, from India. When the new constitution–years in the making–was finally ratified over a month ago now, it triggered protests in the south and a near complete border closure from India. We kept thinking that things had to get better, any minute now, but they haven’t; they’ve only gotten worse. Gas bottles, petrol, diesel, kerosene–none of this is available to buy, unless you are one of those who can afford to pay the black market prices, which friends tell me run at 5-10 times the normal rate. And of course, the people that suffer the most are the poor, particularly those who have been affected by the earthquake. Any appliances that can be used for electric cooking are flying off the shelves, and even here in Kathmandu I see people cooking on the sidewalk using firewood.

By comparison, I’ve been fortunate, so far just inconvenienced and not suffering, as so many are. I’m pretty used to short-term shortages, so I always keep a little bit of petrol saved for my scooter, but as I want to keep that for emergencies, I just bought a cheap bicycle (possibly too cheap, it already rattles 🙂 ) and, looking on the bright side, it’s helping me get some exercise. I’m not sure how much cooking gas is left in the my cylinder, and my spare is empty, as I changed it right when the shortage first began last month and have been unable to refill it since. But I do have an old but trusty little electric oven and a kettle, and I’m experimenting with how much I can do without having to turn on a gas burner. When I go out, if a restaurant is open, I eat there — the new logic of “eat out, save your gas” overriding the former logic of “eat at home, save money.” And besides, I figure they could use the business. But every day, more and more businesses of all sorts are staying closed when they can’t find the supplies to stay open. And now shops are starting to run out of certain things, too, because the vehicles that usually supply them don’t have petrol to move around, either.

Winter Is Coming, and that means the ubiquitous long power cuts that will rule out the oven and kettle, and no kerosene for heating. I haven’t wanted to write about this, because I feel like there’s been so much bad news out of Nepal lately that I hate to add to it.

As always, I am amazed by the cheerfulness and resilience of those around me. But they deserve better, and I can only hope the end is in sight.

And here’s a picture of a baby goat I saw the other day when visiting a friend, because it’s adorable and makes me smile.

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A Simple Curry of Leafy Greens and Soybeans

in Food, recipes, Vegetables

A few weeks ago a wonderful friend — who is always trying to feed me — gave me a container to take home. It was full of a delicious and unusual “spinach” and soybean curry. And then when the neighborhood lady who regularly shows up at my gate with little bits of vegetables to sell  came with a bag of greens and soybeans, I decided to try to recreate it. She is really friendly and what she brings is always so cheap, I pretty much buy whatever it is, even if I have no real plan of how to use it. Actual spinach is rarely found in Nepal — rather, all greens are called saag, and can be the leafy part of pretty much anything edible. I think what she brought me was mustard greens, but I’m not completely sure. You can use any green leafy vegetable you have to hand, but this is best with smaller and slightly more bitter greens. The most time consuming part of making this was shelling the soybeans – if you can get them preshelled where you are, more power to you. This is a lighter curry, a kind you often get here in Nepal, as opposed the heavier, saucier type some people might be used to thinking of as a curry. The original dish had no potato, but I had one lonely one on my counter that needed to be used and I like potatoes in my curry so I added one – but you don’t have to.

A Simple Curry of Leafy Greens and Soybeans

500 grams/ 1 lb greens of your choice

250 grams/ 8 oz soybeans

1 medium red onion

3 – 4 cloves of garlic

2-3 plum tomatoes

1 medium potato

1 heaping teaspoon of cumin (jeera in Nepali)

pinch of cinnamon

several whole dried chilies, to taste (or chili flakes)

half a vegetable or chicken stock cube

salt to taste

oil for frying

Parboil the soybeans and shell them. This is best done while listening to an audiobook or watching TV so that you won’t notice how slowly the beans are accumulating. If you get too bored, boil twice the amount and eat half of them Japanese style (edamame) as you shell. 🙂

Wash the greens well to remove any grit and lose the roots, if there are any. Roughly chop if the leaves are large.

Chop the onions and garlic and fry for a minute or so. Add the cumin, salt, pinch of cinnamon and the dried chilies. If you don’t have whole ones, you can use a pinch of chili flakes.

Cut the potato into small cubes so it will cook quicker and let it fry with everything for a few minutes while you chop the tomatoes, then add them to the pan, and let everything cook together for a minute or two more. Then add the greens and soybeans and stir well, and crumble in the half a stock cube. Cover and let cook over medium-low heat until the potatoes (if using) and greens are done — it depends what kind you are using, some greens can be rather tough. You might need to add a splash of water to loosen things up and help everything cook, but see how much liquid your tomatoes and greens give off first.

I served this over brown rice and topped it with a fried egg, but it would also be good with rotis or other flatbread. This is enough for two people if you eat it as a main meal like I did, or four people as a side dish. It reheats well and I happily enjoyed it for several days.

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Another kind of mountain

in daily life, Food, Kathmandu, Nepal, Vegetables

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These might not be the kind of mountains most people think of when they think of Nepal, but at this time of year, heaps of the white daikon radish, known locally as mula, appear on the side of the road in certain parts of the city. I’m always in awe of the quantities there are. Nepalis love to pickle or ferment mula and serve it as a flavourful accompaniment to their dahl-bhat dinners. There are so many variations of mula achar; the word achar is often translated as pickle, but it is not a pickle in the way we know it–rather it almost serves as a seasoning to the plainer tasting dahl, and can be made with a wide variety of vegetables. A common version of mula achar involves julienning it before drying it in the sun, and then tossing with spices and oil before packing it into jars to mature.

Makes me hungry just thinking about it. I don’t think, however, that this farmer would sell me some in less than gargantuan proportions, so I’ll have to get some from my local vegetable seller. Ah, the local vegetable sellers I buy from–they’re a colorful cast of characters and that’s a whole story in itself!

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