“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”
– Harriet Van Horne
Nepal was on my list of countries from the day I started planning my trip. This despite the fact that most of the stuff that turns up when you google Nepal is “mountain treks”. In fact, most people who sent me messages and talked to me about Nepal spoke as though there is nothing else to do there but trek and hike. This could not be further from the truth.
I have fallen ever so slightly in love with Nepal after being here for a good three weeks now. I have only been in Kathmandu and Pokhara (and taken the bus between them twice), but I love it. My friend, Hege, said “you go to Nepal the first time for the mountains, and then you return for the people” and I wholeheartedly agree. Four things I love about Nepal that have nothing to do with hiking:
- The people
- The old temples and culture
- The feeling of safety walking around on my own even after dark
- Nepalese Milk Tea
In any case, Michael (my new friend from the bus ride to Pokhara), recommended I try the local cooking class in Kathmandu run by Nepal Cooking School. As luck would have it they are located a 5 minute walk away from where I was staying in Thamel (not that Thamel is very big, mind you) – so I booked it the day after my return to Kathmandu.
The cooking school holds one day courses twice a day (9 am and 1.30 pm) for up to six people, but if you are alone it is no problem. I was initially going to have my course with another woman who had booked for the same time, but she never showed so it ended up being just me, Sabita (chef) and Binita (assistant).
They have three menus you can choose from and there is some flexibility between them so you can mix it up a bit if there is something you really don’t want in there, but I saw “chocolate momo” in Menu #3, so the choice was easy. (CHOCOLATE MOMOS, PEOPLE!!!1)
Binita also explained to me that you can put anything in momos and recommended “apple pie momos”, which I will endeavor to make as soon as possible.
After initial introductions and deciding a menu the course follows these simple steps:
- Drinking Nepalese milk tea
- A trip to the marked to buy vegetables, spices and chicken/beef/whatever
- Drinking Nepalese milk tea
- Chopping vegetables and making dough
- All the actual cooking (basically follow the chef and try not to stuff it up)
- Drinking Nepalese milk tea (I love this stuff)
- Learning what spices go with a Nepalese kitchen and how to use them (follow the chef and try not to stuff it up)
- Explaining to the chef and assistant why you, as a stereotypical Norwegian, bring shame to your family because you can’t even handle a basic minimum of chili
- Eat the courses as they are finished
- Try to fit the chocolate momos in there even though you were full after the first course already
Not gonna lie. Those chocolate momos were a highlight. That and the fact that I didn’t light the kitchen on fire while flipping those flour tortilla thingys (can’t remember the name, sue me) straight in the gas flame to make them expand and bubble up correctly.
If you ever get to Kathmandu and you have a day to spare I would recommend this, it’s a great way to get to know local culture and have some great food, and it’s just completely unpretentious straight up fun. A really cool bonus is that all their proceeds are used to fund social programs for their organisation, Journey Nepal.
(THEY’RE CALLED CHAPATI! I remember now!)