Written by Lee Khang Yi,
PETALING JAYA, March 19 — When it comes to eating another culture’s food, nothing beats a home-cooked version. At the newly-opened Nepali Private Kitchen run by Birenda Sherchan, 50, and his wife, Sumnima, 40, you get the authentic taste of Nepal — think momos and Thakali sets.
Started this February, the Sherchans have opened up their home in Bandar Sunway to guests who come in a group for their private kitchen sessions. For 20 years, the couple lived in Singapore where Birenda was working.
About three years ago, when Birenda retired from his job, they relocated here under the Malaysia, My Second Home programme for the sake of their children’s education.
The idea to start a private kitchen arose when a friend of the family, John Sonam Yohan, brought food blogger Cheng Yi over for dinner. Cheng was missing Nepali food after Restaurant Nepal at Plaza Damas closed.
Popularly known by his moniker, Fatboybakes (http://fatboyrecipes.blogspot.my/), he admits that he has a strong affinity to Nepal after visiting it a few times for church missions. The attraction was the delicious food and the kind hospitality of the Nepalis he met. Bowled over by the Sherchans’s cooking, he suggested they be entrepreneurial and start this venture.
With the private kitchen, the talented Sumnima gets to showcase her talents. She picked up her cooking skills after she got married. In the beginning, she was taught by her mother and mother-in-law to cook the family recipes.
Later through the years, she slowly practised during her spare time in Singapore. Birenda is also an expert hand in cooking his own repertoire of dishes. One of his signature dishes is the delicious Pork Messing that he would often cook up during trips to the jungle.
The fragrant tender pork pieces cooked with lemongrass make an excellent companion for alcohol. For the dinner, it was served with the Thakali set. He is also a dab hand at barbecues, as we managed to sample his BBQ pork sprinkled with Nepali spices.
Both the Sherchans come from the Thakali tribe in Nepal, who are famed for their culinary skills and are often in the F&B business. As Cheng puts it, “They were probably the Hainanese of the Nepalis.”
The highlight of a meal here is Sumnima’s homemade momos. Commonly found all over Nepal where it is eaten as an appetiser or snack, the steamed dumplings resemble the Chinese jiaozhi. “It’s the national food for Nepal,” said Sumnima.
In Nepal, it’s often made with seasoned chicken or water buffalo meat but at Nepali Private Kitchen, they prefer the porcine version. As Sumnima says, “Above all, pork is the best.” As they lived in Singapore where pork momos are commonly served, they have grown accustomed to the taste which is far superior than the chicken version. She uses a little pork fat to mince the filling together with onions to give it a juicy texture.
Since one of the guests that evening is vegetarian, Sumnima had also experimented and produced a version using chopped shiitake mushrooms and shredded Napa cabbage — a lighter but still flavourful bite with the umami taste from the mushrooms.
Both steamed dumplings are paired with a fiery but oh-so-addictive red tomato chutney, made from Sumnima’s secret recipe that has chilli, tomatoes and coriander. “Everyone has their signature sauce to go with the momos,” she explains.
Book a session with Nepali Private Kitchen by contacting Cheng Yi at 012-3240988 or John Sonam at 012-4152512. A session for RM70 per person includes three courses: appetisers — three items including the momos, Thakali Dal Bhat set where rice is served with two meat dishes, Dal and pickles, and dessert. Other options are also available. Each session requires a minimum of six people and maximum of 12. Reservations must be made at least three to four days in advance.
This article was written by Lee Khang Yi, and you can read the rest of this article at themalaymailonline.com