Try local food in Nepal, Raithaane x Hub Kathmandu

I’ve now been in Nepal on and off for over 18 months. It’s without a doubt that I love food, people, culture and the Nepali way of life. However, if I had to rank it in order, food would definitely be at the higher end of the scale. Yet, I’m still partial to a good bacon sandwich or fish and chips. However, when I’m not shovelling those down my oesophagus, you’ll find me eating, sleeping and breathing Nepali cuisine. I’ve travelled around a fair few places in Nepal but not enough. My vision of local was mainly eating at local tea joints in the capital not dining at Raithaane. 


What is Local Exactly?

However, for those that know Kathmandu you can argue to an extent that local food is capped to the “momos, chow mein, fried rice, paratha, nimiki, Jeri, Newa dishes and so forth”, you get the picture. It’s not until you venture further afield there is more of a broader spectrum in terms of local food. I didn’t realise how vague exactly my knowledge was in this area. Until recently a few friends of mine have frequently commented on their experience dining at the restaurant in Patan, Raithaane

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Raithaane

Unfamiliar to myself, they told me chefs from a restaurant Raithaane have travelled around Nepal and have been inspired by the Nepali produce. As a result, of that, they recreate dishes and source underutilised grains and organic ingredients. I’d been informed it’s only been open one year. In addition to that, I’d also witnessed their salivating food photos splattered across social media. So, when the visual input kicked in it meant I HAD to visit.

However, due to personal circumstances and commitments, I’ve never got the time to actively visit. Until this evening where collaboration was hosted with one of the most unique venues in Kathmandu, HUB.Before I delve into detail about my evening. Let me tell you about the ambiguous concept and ever innovating venue of HUB. 

HUB

HUB is located in Thamel and from my perspective one of the best places to spend your downtime in the city. It serves multiple purposes: socialtours operates from there, it’s a big space which is especially great for a working environment or to read in. Likewise, it serves delicious fresh organic food and flavourful Karma coffee direct from Nepals crops.

The venue itself is not one of those corporate coffee places, it’s got a community feel and a sustainable as well as a fairtrade focus which is consistent through their food, coffee sourcing, furniture, external items they sell and pricing. All of these combined provides you with a relaxed and easy-going environment that is HUB. Unlike other corporate places, you really gets the sense that the people come first and not behind this fake hospitality social mask others in the industry uphold. 

Communal Dining Experience

Over my time here, I’ve learnt HUB hold great talks and events. I discovered they were hosting one with Raithaane and it had a dining capacity of 12. Titled as a ‘communal dining experience’. Immediately, I jumped at the chance. Which lead me to HUB tonight. 

Start of the evening

The evening started by being supplied with local alcohol “raksi”. Whilst we introduced ourselves to one another and nattered until the hosts were ready. We all sat down to a beautifully decorated table with menus wrapped in string. Whilst sitting we had a group introduction.

Then the charming chefs of Raithaane provided us with a warm hello and began their introduction. First, they told us why the name ‘Raithaane’ and they indicated it meant indigenous. Hence, why the preservation and promotion of local food. Initially, they aimed to promote local food to the Nepalese in Nepal and now foreigners have started to visit also. Then, they kindly went through the menu as well as fishing out those with dietary requirements. That way they could cater to the guests accordingly. 

Menu

This evenings menu featured the following Kanchemba, Taruwa, Batuk & Chukaunim Kwaati, Niuro Salad, Chamre &Yangben-Faksa and to finissh Kaguno Kheer topped with a Su-cha. All of these dishes came from different areas of Nepal.

Now, I can guarantee no doubt most of you are probably reading this thinking what the hell are these?

Well, read further as I’ll explain exactly what they consist of and the areas they are eaten in. The dishes were served in the following chronological order:

Courses

Kanchemba– Buckwheat fries served with timmur chhop. It’s produced with buckwheat, water, salt, gee (clarified butter) and normally achaar (pickle). This is is a Thakali dish originating from the people of Mustang region in Nepal. If you’d like to know more about how to make this, you can check it out here

I think personally, this was one of my favourites for the evening. More to the point, I enjoyed Kanchemba that much I found it extremely moreish. Literally I could have dined all night on that, just on its own. 

Taruwa- Vegetables deep fried in chickpeas, rice, flour & spices batter. This dish was mesmerising, it reminded me of the Japanese dish, tempura. However, this to me had more flavour and a good level of spiciness to it also. Taruwa is known as a dish from the Maithil and Tharu people. Maithil are from the Eastern part of Nepal in the Terai region. Likewise, the indigenous group of the Tharu are also from the region. So basically, this scrumptious dish derives from Eastern Nepal.

Batuk & Chukauni- Deep-fried ricebean patties with potato-yoghurt salad. The ingredients in this dish consist of black lentils, ginger paste, garlic paste, turmeric powder, vegetable/sunflower oil and salt. You can learn how to make it here. This dish derives from the Magar and Khas-Pahadi ethnic communities. The Magar is from the east of the Kali Gandaki river basin. Also, the Khas-Pahadi derive from Eastern Nepal.

Kwaati- Sprouted mixed beans soup (Newa). This soup is often renowned as having nine beans. It’s packed with protein and very nutritious. To make this dish you can checkout here. This dish comes from the Newari community originating from Kathmandu itself.

Niuro Salad– Wild fiddlehead/fern salad achaar with local spices and mustard oil. This salad was incredibly tasty and it was my first time to experience fern it certainly did not disappoint. This dish is consumed all over Nepal.

Chamre & Yangben-Faksa– Local rice-slow cooked in mustard oil, tumeric * cumin pock & wild lichen curry. Kinema (fermented soybeans) achaar (pickle). This dish is popular within the Limbu community, those indigenous groups mainly coming from the Eastern side of Nepal in the hills. Likewise, the Rai community too from Eastern Nepal eat this nearby Darjeeling.

Kaguno Kheer- Sweet pudding made from foxtail millet. This was like a creamy porridge in a way and was incredibly delicious and sweet. This dish is common in the far west of Nepal. You can find out how to make it here

Su-cha- Salty butter tea – this is typically a Tibetan style tea. It’s not like the sugar-filled Nepali tea you’re used too. The more I drank the more the taste began to grow. However after that meal, I was full to the brim, so drinking this I have to admit was a challenge! But no doubt tasty. Maybe it’s due to my British palette but I’d rather drink this on the side as after the meal as I still naturally link tea with sweetness.

My Thanks

Throughout this dining experience, I’d like to thank those in my company. Everyone was extremely friendly, open and it was nice to get to know peoples stories about Nepal. For me, this added to the fantastic atmosphere. The way HUB had set the table was rather charming with our menus neatly rolled, plates and cutlery neatly aligned it really made me feel ready and excited to delve into different flavours. Likewise, those behind Raithaane were so humble and took their time to speak to all of us tasting the food made it a truly authentic experience. 

Pure Passion


That evening, all of those at the event could agree that the team cared and were extremely passionate as it shined throughout. Even though I’m not Nepali I’m incredibly appreciative of their goal to promote and preserve the dying out indigenous heritage foods of Nepal. Likewise, there are so many continental restaurants setting up like wildfire more younger generations when not at home are choosing to eat in a variety of different restaurants.

So, in a way this restaurant is not only helping those re-connect with their childhood favourites but also educating the current younger generation and helping preserve the identity of their country. Similarly, through their dishes, they are also educating foreigners by subverting the typical stereotype of Nepalese dishes such as dal baht and momos. Showing that Nepal’s cuisine identity can’t be dissected down to just those. There’s more to it than that.

To summarise, I thoroughly enjoyed this evening and can’t wait to try more of their menu. I’d also like to give reference to the Gunduruk.com which is Prashant’s site. It is a spectacular food blog which features some of the local dishes here made at Raithaane. Give it a go, but I’d advise checking out the restaurant as it takes some skill and experience to make some of those. Plus you gain a good education whilst eating. Similarly, HUB is also planning so host further dining experiences so check out for their updates here.

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