A tasting of Nepali cuisine leaves you wondering about the spices and herbs in it. The food can be tingly, zingy and fragrant and there is a certain familiarity about them.
There’s timmur which is like a Sichuan pepper and is very aromatic, and silam which reminds you of sesame.
Both these spices define the Thakali dishes served at Restaurant Nepal Himalayan Cuisine in Plaza Damas, Kuala Lumpur. Thakali is a small ethnic group from west central Nepal, known for their skills in trade and commerce in this region.
At Restaurant Nepal, the Smashed Pumpkin Curry with Nepalese spices cooked with Mutton Bone Marrow is smashing. It’s a Thakali dish made according to the recipe of the owner’s mum. Timmur, coriander and other Nepalese spices go into the pumpkin curry smothering the mutton bone marrow which has to cooked for a long time.
The very tender meat falls off the bone and it is scrumptious dredged in the thick, aromatic curry naturally sweet with pumpkin. Its zingy hotness from the timmur is so welcoming. For those so inclined, they can suck the marrow off the bone.
Momos are a hot favourite here. They can be steamed, deepfried and panfried, and resemble siao long bao, the Chinese dumpling. Nepal is surrounded by China, Tibet and India, and naturally its food has absorbed influences from these countries.
Cumin, masala, coriander, onions ginger, garlic and salt are added to the minced chicken for these momos. Bite into a steamed one, and it’s a mouthful of sweet, flavourful stock distilled from the meat filling.
It has no need of the two dips – one made of tomato, sesame and coriander, and a spicier one of chilli, garlic, ginger, turmeric and hot chilli. The deepfried ones though go very well with these dips. I could eat a whole basket of steamed momos at one sitting – they are so delicious.
“Momos are the most famous dish in Nepal,” says Robin Sherchan, the restaurant owner.
“Every day we eat more momos than the whole population of Nepal.”
There is Nepalese satay on the menu, called Chicken Tass. It’s chicken marinated with ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin and turmeric, and grilled, and served with the two dips (for the momos). The blast of heat in one of these dips come from small round red and green chillies from Nepal. It’s a zesty, complex dip which I like a lot.
We try an Omelette with Minced Chicken, which is combined with ginger, coriander and garlic. It does give a more exciting dimension to thin omelette.
Aloo Silam is boiled potatoes marinated with red onion and silam, a Nepalese herb which tastes like sesame. It’s made to the recipe from Robin’s mum. The soft, fluffy potatoes are fragrant with spices, with a nice tartness from hogplum and lime juice.
The sets at Restaurant Nepal are worth trying. I have my eye on the Snack Platter of Snack Platter of chicken chilli, Bhuteko Bhatmas, Nepali salad, mushrooms and peas, aloo silam and momos which can be shared.
The Thakali Thali set offers mutton curry, chutney, black dhal, rice, salad and vegetables. The colour of the dhal comes about from being mashed up and cooked in an iron pot. It seems very healthy. I particularly like the bittergourd acar in this set.
Dessert is a Rice Pudding cooked with milk, bay leaves and cloves which I don’t particularly fancy. But I enjoy the drinks here. I had the most fragrant Nepali Masala Chya here, and I could drink it neat without any astringent aftertaste.
The Shangri-La is like a sangria and is a blend of red wine and fruit juices, and shredded apple. It complements very well the spicy Nepali meal.
The Thakali set is RM15, Snack Platter RM24, momos are RM7 for 4 pieces, Pumpkin Mutton Marrow Curry RM18, Shangri-La RM9 per glass, Chicken Tass RM7.
The restaurant is definitely worth many visits to try the whole range of Nepalese food, and to eat the momos and pumpkin mutton curry again.
Restaurant Nepal Himalayan Cuisine is at F-0-6, Plaza Damas, 60 Jalan Sri Hartamas 1, Sri Hratamas, Mont Kiara, KL, tel: 03-6206 3904. Just park your car at F, and walk up the stairs. It’s opposite TGIF. - November 16, 2013.