Meals at over 40,000 feet

KATHMANDU: It was in 1980 that a crowd of us helped the late Desmond Doig create the Rum Doodle, and signed Yeti footprints that crowd the walls today. Yog who is the manager now was a fantastic bartender in those days.

The crowds flock to Rum Doodle and Jyoti Pokhrel who has run the restaurant through turbulent times is proud to say, “I have to keep my menu simple because we cater to 20 different nationalities.”

Most of the crowds at Rum Doodle forget the mythical mountain the restaurant and bar is named after in the satirical novel Rum Doodle (40,000 ½ ft) by WE Bowman based on the Hunt Expedition that put Tenzing and Hillary atop Mt Everest.

Surya Moktan who was serving us brought up a Rum Doodle Barbecue with chicken, baked potatoes and, original in Kathmandu, homemade zesty baked beans. The tangy sauce slathered over the chicken had an accent on sweet and the Chef said that it contained honey, rice vinegar and chilli powder amongst a host of ingredients. Between the smokiness of the chicken and the super sauce one was reminded of the barbecue law that states that the process is a long one while grilling is quick.

The Heart Breakers, the famous live band were playing an early Presley number which should have been “Love Me Tender” because the steak was medium rare, slightly bite resistant and tender. Steaks have been top sellers ever since the restaurant opened. It’s served with a Chasseur Sauce which was borrowed from the original with its mushrooms and wine. Created in the 1600’s by Duke Philippe De Mornay, Chasseur means Hunter Style. The Duke used it for birds riddled with buck shot.

“Up there with our steaks are our wood fired pizzas. People just love them. I like my Tandoori Chicken pizza topped with extra green chillies,” said Jyoti as we were served India’s national bird the Tandoori Chicken which encyclopedias put down as originating in Mughal times but was actually, “invented” in the 50s at the Moti Mahal restaurant in Old Delhi. Rum Doodle’s Tandoori ‘chuck’ (as the late Sir Edmund Hillary who once dined here calls chickens), was heightened by adding fresh garam masala as against packaged garam masala which is ginger, garlic, cumin and pepper. The taste was “Baley Baley” as the Sikhs of India would say- a compound of Tandoor or clay oven smoke and practice from the early 80s and good marination, “12 hours in the refrigerator”, said Jyoti. Made it just right.

For those growing up in the continent meant that Macaroni and Cheese was called Phorren food and served with a regularity that made it comfort food. And delicious it was at Rum Doodle flavoured slightly with basil and oregano. Instead of the cheddar that Thomas Jefferson used in 1812, the Rum Doodle uses equal portions of mozzarella and yak cheese. I had total out of control, memorable garlic corn bread to go with it. It goes with anything.

David Strickler made the first Banana Split in 1903 in Latrobe Pennsylvania, the over a hundred year old dish is refreshingly served chocolate sauce, cream and all at Rum Doodle. Like the other dishes we had it was a scrumptious meal in itself.

A group of trekkers signed a Yeti footprint, the Heart Breakers went into, “Knock Knock Knocking On Heaven’s Door” which is a great song for a place 40,000 ½ ft high. Call 4701208, 4701107.