A Delicious Memory from the Past

Features Issue 195 Jan, 2018
Text by Dinesh Rai

Can the Pork and Rayoko Saag remembered from years ago still be found?

Ever since my childhood days, my favorite meal has been rice with pork and rayoko saag. In Kathmandu there used to be an eatery just off New Road on one of the upper floors which served this delicious meal back in the 1980’s. Surprisingly, it was a group of British Volunteers who we knew as VSOs that took us there. Pork and Rayoko Saag is a simple dish that has an extraordinary taste and is a favorite of many Kiranti people although one doesn’t hear too much about it, and some Kirantis don’t eat pork.

My own explanation for why it tastes so good is that the saag subdues the sharp taste of the pork meat and fat while the pork adds a strong flavor to the saag giving it extra richness and deep flavor. They perfectly complement each other and the taste is so strong that even if you add a lot of water to make a jhol (not exactly gravy as it is very diluted and more like soup) it still retains a very strong taste. So far, I have failed to find an eatery that prepares this on a daily basis but several say they can make it if ordered well in advance. One such eatery is Momo Karma beside Naag Pokhari which is run by Rajiv Rinjin Paljor, guitarist of Abhaya & The Steam Engines.

I happened to visit Momo Karma on the day of Maghe Sangrati and by coincidence Rajiv and I arrived at the doorstep of his restaurant at the same time. We decided on a late lunch so that they’d have enough time to prepare the meal. So I arrived back at the eatery at 2:30pm. When the food arrived, I knew I was in for a treat as the colors looked good and the pork seemed to have been cooked just right. Relishing my favorite dish, I avoided the dahl as far as possible because rice with pork and rayoko saag has that unbelievable, unique taste which you don’t want to contaminate with anything. The food had me wishing I had a bigger appetite but there is only so much I can consume. It was exactly the way I remembered it and anyone who tastes it for the first time will never forget the experience. There is nothing in this world that tastes quite like Pork and Rayoko Saag. They are meant for each other and if you haven’t tried it, you surely don’t know what you’re missing. They both have unique tastes and when you put them together, it’s doubly unique! The best part is, as Rajiv puts it, “It took only half an hour to cook!”