Nepalese Spicy Chickpeas – Quick and Easy!

Those Europeans who trek the high paths through Nepal get used to simple daily meals of Daal and Rice. But such are the talents of a good Nepali cook that you can prepare yourself for differences of taste and texture such as would test the talents of any Asian Escoffier.

This quick and simple meal claims no such merits, but……….. Friends who have tried it [even confirmed carnivores] often say [in a casual, but entirely unconvincing manner] “Oh, if we’re having a curry evening next week is there any chance you could do that Gurkha Chickpea thing…………………”

Ingredients:

2 ‘banana’ Shallots, chopped in fine rings; a sweet, ripe, Tomato, chopped fine; 3 fat Garlic Cloves chopped fine; 1 tsp Chana powder [see my previous post];  1 Green Chilli, cut a slit down lengthwise; 2 x 400 g  cans of Organic Chickpeas, drained [or about 1 lb of dried chickpeas soaked overnight].

Have to hand: Lemon juice; Black pepper; Sea or Black salt; 1 tsp of Ghee [clarified butter] or if unavailable [tut, tut, you really should have some!] 2 tsp Rice Oil

Heat your ghee or oil in a raised side frying pan, and saute the shallots til golden.  Then add the garlic, chilli and chana powder, and stir well in.  Grind over a good amount of fresh black pepper, and stir in, allow to simmer.

After a few minutes add the chickpeas, and tomato and a splash of lemon juice.  Stir and simmer for about 10/15 mins. Check for taste and add a little salt if needed.   Serve piping hot with a simple Jeera [cumin] Rice or plain Roti.

Ayo Gurkhali!

The Gurkha Oven – Spalding’s Superb Nepalese Restaurant

Imagine my surprise when this great eaterie appeared, not in London, or Cambridge, or any other of my usual haunts, but right on my doorstep in Spalding at 12b Sheep Market, near the centre of town.   What’s more, before I’d had a chance to try them, they had shot up the ratings to appear as our No.1 local restaurant.   I guess you will find it no surprise however that my next foray out was to sample the delights promised in their menu!

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The staff are, again, polite, friendly and courteous, but without the obsequiousness that so grates in many Indian restaurants.   Again the ‘British Staple Curries’ featured strongly, as commerce presently dictates, but my aim was to try the Nepali range and compare them with my Edinburgh experience.

Well, I need not have worried.  There were a few alternatives that I hadn’t found in Edinburgh, such as a slowly cooked Goat Curry, on the bone, which was superbly, meltingly, delicious. Chicken Bhutuwa, another Nepalese traditional dish, was finely prepared with dried red chillies and crushed garlic.  Mouth and eye wateringly fine!

Starters included the classic Mo:Mo, this time with minced chicken filling and a light sauce, and spicy lamb kidneys, lightly fried with herbs.  Allo Bodi Tama, my favourite Nepali veg side dish, is available too.  Checha’pruk, the Gurkha version, I suppose, of chicken tikka, but marinated in a cheese and spiced sauce, remains to be tried as do their Duck dishes.

Plus I must next time try their version of the spicy lamb curry – just to compare notes with Edinburgh you understand!

It would be invidious to choose which restaurant was the better of the two – even if it were possible – I would only say that I unhesitatingly recommend both.  So if you are lucky enough to be in either locale, and puzzling over where to find a great meal, well cooked and served, you now have somewhere to go!

Namaste Kathmandu : A Favourite Nepalese Restaurant

Well, I promised a review, or two, when I posted my Alloo Bodi Tama recipe a while ago so here we go!

Many miles apart, Edinburgh and Spalding, but very close in the winning qualities that make for a good restaurant you want to visit time and again.  Super food, all at very reasonable prices, and a cheerful and helpful staff are the factors I prize in any establishment, and these two are at the top of my list. I have found all the Nepalis I have met over the years to be unfailingly courteous, and the staff at both restaurants are no exception.

Namaste Kathmandu

The first, Namaste Kathmandu in Forrest Road, is located a short distance uphill [everywhere in Edinburgh is uphill or seems to be!] from the famous ‘Greyfriar’s Bobby’ statue.  I visited it first on a Saturday evening, which, as you might imagine, meant it was busy!  Nevertheless a table for two was found, menus appeared, and then……we were allowed plenty of time to mull over the delights contained within.  Unlike so many other restaurants on a Saturday night when you feel you’ve stepped on a conveyor belt!

The menu, in deference to ‘British tastes’, does show a number of the standard dishes that can be expected in any Indian restaurant.  However but a little searching will reveal a number of unfamiliar Nepalese dishes, and, as you might expect, it was these we concentrated on.

Starters range from Kukhura Ko Sekuwa, a sort of Nepali chicken satay, marinated in herbs and barbecued, through Haku Choila,  a traditional grilled lamb starter, and the staple of all Nepalese homes, Mo:Mo.  Vegetable filled dumplings steamed or fried and garnished with fresh coriander. Kwati Ko Suruwa is a delicious nine bean and green vegetable broth simmered in Himalayan spices and herbs.  They list several others, all sounding equally delicious, but even I can only attempt so much!

Of the main courses Kukhura Ko Johl was a superb, chicken on the bone,  dish containing onion, tomatoes and timur, better known perhaps as Sichuan Pepper, topped with sliced green chillies.  Khasi Ko Masu, lamb marinated in Himalayan herbs was superb and spicy, only just topped by Bheda Tona, lamb on the bone marinated in yoghurt and herbs.  As an accompanying side dish you would find it hard to beat their Kaakra Ko Achar, a fresh tasting Nepalese cucumber pickle.  Jeera Rice, with cumin seeds, soaked up all the sauces so nothing was wasted!

How did two of us manage to eat all that?  Well, the food was so wonderful that we had no hesitation in eating there on Sunday night too!!