19-25 April 2013 #652

Thakkhola Thakali Cuisine

This restaurant skips the bland fare dished out by many as tasty, and specialises in Nepali food of the Thakali kind
Someplace Else by H Kali

Situated at the end of the cluster of up-market restaurants in Jhamsikhel, Thakkhola Thakali Cuisine (TTC) has carved a niche among scores of other eateries offering Chinese, Indian, and continental varieties. TTC skips the MSG-enhanced fare dished out by many and specialises in Nepali food of the Thakali kind.

We chose a tidy squat-down table in the corner and started with alu anda timmur (Rs 125, eggs and potato fried in Szechwan pepper), sukuti fry with timmur ko chhop (Rs 270, deep fried, dried mutton served with Szechwan pepper powder), and alu butter with lasun ko chhop (Rs 105, potatoes pan fried in butter and served with garlic sauce). It was the latter that took us completely by surprise, its mild buttery taste in sharp contrast with the wild, tangy garlic sauce served alongside. Next time we’ll take two and suggest that you do too.

Our main course ran the entire gamut of Thakali food in rice, dhindo, and roti. The rice ensemble (Rs 250) and the dhindo set (Rs 195 vegetarian, Rs 295 with meat) both come with what have become essential elements of a Thakali meal: meat curry (we chose chicken, but the restaurant also offers mutton and fish), gundruk ko achar, and rayo ko saag. The dhindo, basically cooked by pouring buckwheat flour into boiling water, was soft, not too bitter, and went well with the rest of the spicy supplements.

The Ghoken set (Rs 225) with alu sukuti jimbu (potatoes and dried mutton cooked in jimbu) came with four buckwheat pancakes and a generous helping of fried meat and potatoes. Despite being cooked in smouldering butter, the spongy pancakes were bereft of greasiness and made for a fulfilling lunch. The garlic sauce we had retained from the entree served to be an excellent companion to both.

After dipping each morsel in the sauce of another, we decided to wash it all down with a glass of chhyang each. At Rs 90 a serving, this was the only anomaly in a restaurant that was otherwise pretty light on our wallets (we paid a little over Rs 1,500 for a group of five). But the fresh rice brew was thicker than usual, here a scent of cardamom and there a hint of cinnamon and was an interesting deviation from the local variety found in the winding alleyways of nearby Patan.

As traders, porters, and armies of the past passed from the lesser Himalayas to the lands beyond, they had to make the most out of locally available food. One trans-Himalayan route in Mustang gave birth to such a popular staple in Thakali khana that it has today come to denote ‘typical’ Nepali cuisine. TTC will show you just why.

GOOGLE MAPS

How to get there: turn right from the fire brigade bus stop in Pulchok and head towards Dhobighat. Turn left at the second four-way crossroad and TTC is on the other side of the road.

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