This piece was a joint effort with Sanjit Pradhananga and Shuvechchhya Pradhan; I wrote the food section – the full article can be read here
Archive for the ‘Kathmandu’ Category
The archives for all the food reviews I did for Friday! in 2014 can be found here:
Yesterday morning the house rattled; a small surprise. I haven’t felt an aftershock in some time now. While it was a small tremor–only 4.3–it’s a little worrying that its epicentre was Kalimati, right in the heart of Kathmandu. According to the National Seismological Center, 376 aftershocks measuring above 4 on the Richter scale have been recorded since April 25th. And of course that doesn’t count the hundreds of little ones that come in under 4. I join everyone else in the country in hoping and praying that the worst is well behind us, not still to come. New data released last week, which you can read about in this BBC article here, isn’t exactly cheerful, but everywhere I go I see optimism, hard work, rebuilding. To quote the phrase I’ve seen being used everywhere from street art to billboard advertisements: We Will Rise Again.
in Food, Kathmandu, Nepal, restaurants
… that’s what’s on the cover of the first issue of Friday! to come out since the earthquake on April 25th. It’s normally a weekly, but it’ll take a while to get back into a regular publishing groove, so this one is still on newsstands. It’s got some great photos of historical sites as well as memories and post-earthquake thoughts from a wide variety of sources, so if you’re in Kathmandu it’s well worth picking up a copy. In the interests of full disclosure 🙂 I should tell you there’s an article of mine in there as well, found online here, about restaurants reopening after the quake. I was asked to write it about ten days after the first one, but the second quake pushed the printing later, so it didn’t come out until after that. It touches on a subject close to my heart–the power of food to nurture, comfort and heal, even in the aftermath of terrible tragedy.
I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately, and it’s often 4 or 5 am with the sky just beginning to lighten when I can finally drop off. Yesterday I didn’t fall asleep until past 3, and later found out I’d slept soundly through a 5.5 tremor that happened at about 7:30 am.
Later in the day, I told a friend it worried me that I’d been able to sleep right through it. I might have been in danger.
“Don’t worry, it was only a 5.5,” she replied.
A few seconds later it hit us: who could have imagine a month ago that we’d be sitting here calmly dismissing an earthquake that was 5.5 on the Richter scale?
As another friend of mine so aptly put it, this is our “new normal.”
It’s strange that Kathmandu Durbar Square is such a normal part of life that I find I have taken few photos of it. Some taken on special occasions, such as these, all lit up in the evening during Tihar in 2013. But a general, panoramic view of the square, with the busyness of daily life in full swing? I can’t find one.
It’s one of the reasons I love it, though–as with many of what are considered Nepal’s cultural heritage sites, it’s simply a part of daily life here. Friends sit on the tiered temples to hang out, catch up, people watch; others walk through it on their way to work or home. They are not dead monuments, but a backdrop to daily life here.
Which is perhaps why the sight of Kathmandu Durbar Square hit all of us here so hard; I took the pictures below on the 26th of April.
On the first day of the Nepali New Year 2072 (April 14th, 2015 by the English calendar), the Nepali government imposed a ban on plastic bags within the Kathmandu Valley. This is wonderful news and a great way to ring in the new year — anyone who has been here knows the litter issues that exist. I’m encouraged to see how much this has already been implemented in just one week since it came into effect last Monday, and I hope it spreads to the whole of Nepal.
Happy new year to us all!
in daily life, Food, Kathmandu
The photo above is an example of everything I love about Nepali food: it was served to me as a snack while visiting someone’s home. Everything was simple, but supremely good: a brown flour roti, some black dahl – plain but creamy, and a bowl of mixed beans and vegetables, lightly seasoned. It was all made from scratch, of course, and tasted fresh and bright, despite it all being cooked. I love the way Nepali home cooks can take the humblest of ingredients and a few spices and turn seemingly anything into a feast.
in daily life, Food, Kathmandu, Nepal, Vegetables
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!