Posts Tagged ‘food’

Everybody Seems to be Eating Brains These Days

in booze, daily life, Food, Patan, Roads & Kingdoms

After my earlier piece on breakfast was published last year on the award-winning Roads and Kingdoms website, I’m super thrilled to have another one in their section 5 O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE: Drinking the World Every Afternoon. The article, which they’ve creatively titled Everybody Seems to be Eating Brains These Days (a huge improvement over my working title, I can tell you) can be found here.

In addition to being voted the Gold Winner for Best Travel Journalism Site by the Society of American Travel writers, they also had an unusually high number of James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards nominations this year. They’re an awesome website that I’m proud to be associated with, and if you haven’t checked them out, you really should. Their longform work is amazing, in-depth reporting, and the shorts are a lot of fun to read.

 

 

Good-bye winter

in daily life, ECS Nepal, Food, Nepali dishes, restaurants, thukpa, Tibetan cooking, wintertime

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Most days since I became a regular here at ECS, I’ve either brought a sandwich or followed a group of coworkers to their favourite lunch spot, a local joint around the corner. However, not long ago a large rodent ran through there, inches from my feet. Fortunately I did not see it, but it has been enough to put me off returning there since. I’m well aware that many eateries in Nepal often play unwitting hosts to small creatures of all sorts, but what made this different was the fact that this place seemed to tolerant of or possibly even catering to the animal’s presence. And it was running from the direction of the kitchen, so…

This might seem a strange way to begin a post about delicious food, and yet. Feeling a little disloyal, the next time I wanted lunch I let the group go on without me and headed out on my own to a place across the street from our offices, where I’ve seen some of the staff eating before. It’s only marginally more upscale than the place favoured by most of my colleagues, but not by much. With chilly days still very much with us, I ordered one of my favourite winter dishes, a chicken thukpa. Thukpa is a thick soup of noodles and vegetables, served in a spicy broth, with or without your choice of meat or egg. It has its roots in Tibet, though the incarnations generally served nowadays in the valley’s small restaurants have evolved into a unique local variant.

Well, this version was delicious, and I was back again and again. A few days ago I opted for the slightly pricier ‘mixed’ thukpa, which has everything–veggies, eggs, and several kinds of meat. Heaven!

Yesterday–literally from one day to the next–warm, spring weather flooded the valley. Usually the change is more gradual, but this year the cold had lingered much later than usual, so the sudden change was all the more noticeable. Someone here at work said that the warm weather was triggered by the hailstorm we had a few days ago – everyone has a weather theory here!

All that to say, my thukpa eating days are pretty much over, unless we get another cold spell. So today, despite the heat, I ordered a last bowl of mixed thukpa anyway, the one you see here. It was delicious, another reminder, if I needed one, of why I love cold days best.

Whatever you’re eating as you read this, I hope it’s as tasty.

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.

Fresh from the garden

in daily life, gardening, Vegetables

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I know, I know, they don’t look like much. But they’re nearly the last of the green beans grown fresh in a blue container just outside my door. There have been bigger harvests, which I was much too busy enjoying to remember to photograph. There’s not many there, but they will add a little crunch to tonight’s chicken salad. Yum.

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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