The Kachhila Hunt

Food Issue 187 Jun, 2017

When life gives you meat, don't cook it, eat it raw!

Only knowing that kachhila is the meat dish eaten raw does not do justice to this popular spicy Newari dish made of minced buffalo meat and homemade spices. Kachhila is one among the two most popular twin-sounding meat snacks in the Newari menu, chhoila and kachhilla. Any occasion in the Newari community is incomplete without buffalo meat, lots and lots of buffalo meat. Most people would hesitate to eat kachhila due to it being raw; the Newars, however, are very fond of this food, as it is one the most popular snacks for accompanying a drink. You can find these Newari specials in most local Newari eateries, and also in some selected Newari restaurants around Kathmandu. Nonetheless, the real taste of kachhila is to be found in the most unexpected local eateries in the alleys of the valley.

If you are looking for an authentic place to eat this spicy Newari delight, Chandan Newari Khaja Ghar is the place to go to. Located a few blocks inside Asan Tole, this local eatery dates back to 1979. Continuing his father's legacy, the owner today serves more than three kilos of kachhila to his regular and walk-in customers every day. His Khaja Ghar mostly serves all of the Newari snacks, but kachhila is the bestseller. On being asked about why kachhila at his eatery is so popular, he replied, ''We serve the finest kachhila in Kathmandu. People usually have complaints about how kachhila meat is fatty, and with threads of hard-to-chew meat, but we serve the finely minced and less fatty kachhila here!''

From the kitchen of the kachhila expert himself, we have a tip about making kachhila to share! The major thing one needs to make sure of while making kachhila is to check whether the meat is soft or not. Also, there is a certain way the meat is minced, and this part plays a vital role in determining how your kachhila is going to taste. The boneless kachhila meat should be minced so minutely that there is no single thread of meat, so that it just dissolves on your palate when you eat it. Also, the correct way of spicing it up also is extremely important. You cannot just put any spice if you want the authentic taste. The major spices that go into kachhila are garlic-ginger paste, cinnamon powder, red chili powder, salt, turmeric powder, and fenugreek seeds roasted in hot oil. The local experts prefer using their hands to mix the spices and meat, as they say the real taste is in the hands! The garnishing is the last part, you can use finely chopped coriander to sprinkle all over your raw meat dish, and Voila! Your kachhila is ready to serve. 

Life is too short not to eat what is cooking around your locality. Hence, do try kachhila at the Chandan Newari Khaja Ghar next time you are around Asan, or you can make it yourself at home for a new, spiced-up Newari culinary experience.