Del­i­cate SPICE

Nepalese din­ing comes to Ho­bart

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - Graeme Phillips

ANIL Shrestha, owner of TasSpice in North Ho­bart and for seven years man­ager of An­na­purna, opened Kath­mandu Cui­sine a month ago where Gond­wana, Pic­calilly and Bat­tery Point Steak House used to be.

As we’ve all seen, there’s been a ver­i­ta­ble ex­plo­sion of In­dian eater­ies in the city over the past few years.

But this is Ho­bart’s first restau­rant to be in­spired by the foods and flavours of Nepal and Ti­bet and, while there are sim­i­lar­i­ties, Shrestha says Nepalese spic­ing is much more sub­tle, milder and del­i­cate than in In­dia, par­tic­u­larly in the food typ­i­cal of the south­ern part of the sub- con­ti­nent.

“Where the In­di­ans cook with ghee, we mostly use oil,” he says.

“Nor do we use as much cream, cheese, toma­toes and sugar in our cook­ing.

“And we com­pen­sate for the hot spici­ness of In­dian vin­daloos, for ex­am­ple, with our pick­les and chut­neys.”

But, un­der­stand­ably given Nepal’s lo­ca­tion, the restau­rant’s menu fea­tures cross- over and de­riv­a­tive dishes in­spired by the pa­neers of north­ern In­dia, Chi­nese- like noo­dles, chow mein and momo – meat and veg­etable

dumplings brought to the coun­try with the infl ux of Ti­betan refugees in the ’ 60s and now Nepal’s most pop­u­lar street food and one of the restau­rant’s spe­cial­ties.

At a loss nav­i­gat­ing my way through the menu’s list of 62 dif­fer­ent savoury dishes, I sim­ply asked Shrestha to bring us a se­lec­tion of those that his young Gurkha- trained chef, Resham Lal Sap­kota, con­sid­ered would make up the most au­then­tic Nepalese meal.

We started with as­sorted momo ac­com­pa­nied by a dip of mild se­same chut­ney, the veg­etable momo with in­ter­est­ing, slightly fer­mented flavours, fol­lowed by a meal- in- it­self beef thukpa, a de­li­ciously rich and deeply flavoured beef broth with veg­eta­bles and thick noo­dles.

Then came a sil­ver plat­ter with four bowls con­tain­ing a thick, soupy dhal; steamed rice with, as is tra­di­tional in Nepal, a saucer of ghee to spoon over it; khasi ko masu – ten­der pieces of braised goat in a thick, beau­ti­fully spiced curry sauce; and kauli aloo – a light, mild and dry curry of cauliflower and potato.

The ac­com­pa­ni­ments were a small bowl of potato, cu­cum­ber and radish pick­les and thick, sweet/ sour yo­ghurt with cu­cum­ber and ap­ple.

Both were ap­petis­ingly sharp and cleans­ing and would be must- or­der sides to what­ever else I might have on my next visit.

When I later men­tioned to Shrestha that the size of the menu was prob­a­bly con­fus­ing to peo­ple who, like me, were try­ing Nepalese food for the first time, he said the kitchen was al­ready work­ing on a new, more con­cise and more tra­di­tional Nepalese menu of dishes.

Hav­ing had a first taste, I look for­ward to many more.

Pic­tures: SAM ROSWARNE

MOUN­TAINS OF FOOD: Kath­mandu Cui­sine’s chef Resham Lal Sap­kota pre­pares a feast; inset: sekuwa, a tra­di­tional Nepalese meat dish.

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