Tharu Chef Diversifying Our Taste Buds
People always pride themselves over the diversity in Nepal. But we rarely get to experience a diversity that is authentic and an environment that deliberately creates an eclectic harmony. Traditional Comfort has been doing this since its start in 2016. The boutique hotel has been taking the pandemic as an opportunity to amplify its collaboration with local communities and local businesses.
In one of its collaborations, local chef Punak Narayan Chaudhary of Barauli Community Homestay contributed some local flavors to Tharu dishes from the diverse menu at the boutique hotel. Chef Punak was amazed by the basic modernities like the microwave oven and the fryer they use in the hotels. He stayed and cooked at the hotel for three days sharing his learnings from cooking in Barauli, Chitwan. In a phone interview, he said “I was asked to stay for more days, but I had important family matters to resolve at home. I would like to do this again. I hope my efforts added value.”
Chaudhary got introduced to contemporary culinary training through the chef at Traditional Comfort. He learned about temperature control, hygiene, food waste control, storage, chopping skills, and more. He is bringing back recipes for choila momo (spicy dumpling) and bhatmas sadeko (spicy edamame) to Barauli. His contribution, too, has helped introduce recipes – coming all the way – from his very own kitchen. Chef Khika Gurung at Traditional Comfort got introduced to Chaudhary’s Tharu recipes through this experience:
“Only at Traditional Comfort, we are sourcing recipes from all over Nepal to create a Nepali multi-cuisine experience. Otherwise, you generally find the regular cosmopolitan options such as continental, Italian, Continental, etc. I really want to learn about authentic Tharu recipes, which are locally manufactured from scratch using fresh spices directly from the garden. Tharu culture offers delicacies like Ghongi (escargots), Korra fish, sticky rice, etc.”
Both Chaudhary and Gurung had sought jobs in foreign countries. Gurung returned to Nepal after his culinary training abroad. However, Chaudhary’s journey had ended in Kathmandu as he was not able to go abroad. Fortunately, both found a way to share their knowledge and experience at Traditional Comfort through this opportunity and both are all the better for it.
And of course, the food at Traditional Comfort is more diverse now. Its courses and meals have included a small part of Tharu culture with the help of Punak Bahadur Chaudhary. Traditional Comfort is really making the mark as the first in Nepal to offer an authentic Nepali multi-cuisine culinary experience and is continuing to bring different flavors to its fine dining tables.
Writer of the article, Richa Neupane is the Impact and Sustainability Manager for the Royal Mountain Group.