Friday 1 February 2013

Nepal: Nepali dinner with a large peacock

Nepali Chulo - Lazimpat Road, Kathmandu
The Nepali Chulo restaurant on Lazimpat Road was empty when I arrived at 6.30pm. The rows of low tables were not designed to accommodate folded European legs so I had to sit side-saddle on the lumpy cushions.

There was barely enough light in the room to read the menu from which a selection of the set meal was ordered. While waiting for my beer, a waitress brought popcorn and theatrically poured rice wine from a great height into a tiny roughly-hewn red-clay cup. I declined the cup of hot water.

During the long wait, a large group of Japanese tourists arrived and took their seats without removing their coats. Moments later, a smaller Spanish group appeared and stared at the menu as if they had never seen foreign food before. I assumed the staff had been waiting for these groups to arrive as teams of waiters began to whiz around with small trays, dishes and more hot water.

After their starters had been cleared, a silver tray was placed on my table which was filled in relays with a mound of sada bhuja (boiled rice), mass ko daal (lentils with Nepalese herbs), saag (spinach), kukhura ko ledo (chicken in gravy), bandel tareko (boiled and deep-fried boar) and golveda ko achaar (tomato pickle).

Half way through the meal, a group of musicians began to clang away on instruments on the stage at the end of the room. Two singers joined in the performance with songs of heroic deeds and undying love (I’m guessing here). Moments later, a performer dressed as a peacock wandered through the restaurant pecking at several of the diners who captured every whimsical movement on an assortment of mobile phones, cameras and video recorders. It was all very bizarre.

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