Enamored by Choila

Features Issue 171 Feb, 2016
Text by Ichchha Pradhan

Put your race face on! Asian Enduro Series comes to Nepal.

Italian by origin, Tina Geraldi has been living in London for the past 20 years. She is involved in an array of activities—part-time teacher in universities to translator from English to Italian, she even has British clients going gaga over her smashing Mediterranean dishes. She is in Nepal for two weeks, organizing courses for the unprivileged children of Aama Ghar in the hope of doing something useful for them. An avid food-lover and cook who enjoys experimenting with dishes from all corners of the world, she tried out her palate on a couple of Newari and Nepali cuisine during her short stay here.

CHHOILA! All praises for chhoila! The incredibly hot and spicy buffalo meat, served cold with spring onions, is her hot-favorite Nepali/Newari dish. “An absolutely stunning dish! Everyone around me in the restaurant was surprised to see me devour such an unbelievably highly-spiced dish,” she laughs. But, little did they know that she has been having spicy food from her childhood days. She goes so far as to declare chhoila to be “the most interesting meat” that she has had till date!

Next, being an aficionado of potatoes (an effect of living with the potato-loving English people for two decades, she says), the Nepali all-time favorite, aloo sandeko, had her hooked. The flavor brought by the blend of spices and onions with boiled potatoes delighted her palate and appealed to her zesty tongue. “I will definitely try this dish out at home once I get back,” she assures. But chiura and bara, the other Newari food that she tried, seemed quite mild and dry for her taste. She feels that they should be accompanied with some more tasty food. “Just like they use bread in Mediterranean cuisine to go with scrumptious meat and savory vegetables,” she explains.

During her stay in Aama Ghar, Tina is having the same food as the children there, and is even growing fond of the salubrious Nepali lunch of daal, bhaat, and tarkari. She adds that she has been having this diet for a week, and finds herself in good health and energy. She was particularly pleased about how the vegetables were cooked just right, preserving their nutritious value.

Although she finds that the ingredients used are more or less the same in all types of cuisine, the individualistic style of each is what she finds striking. When asked what, in particular, she liked about Nepali cuisine, she replies, “The assortment of all the lovely seeds and spices—cumin, cardamom, turmeric, pepper, chili.” She appreciates how Nepali cuisine does not require very pricey ingredients, yet makes a yummy, healthy meal. “Good for the wallet and good for the stomach,” she chuckles.

She is enthusiastic to learn more about Nepali food, and will definitely be buying a recipe book or two about Nepali cuisine, along with a variety of spices, to try them out at home in London!