The moveable feast : 25 years of good food


Place: Paris.

Time:1689. Le Procope is where everybody in Paris gathers to meet and discuss art, politics and read news-sheets.

Time: The present.

Place: Nanglo on Darbar Marg. Everyone gather to discuss art, politics and eat some of the best food in town..

Problem: You couldn’t get a table there when Shyam Kakshyapati opened it twenty five years ago and you still find difficulty finding a table today. Despite a menu that has sizzlers that make you salivate and Pizzas and a surprisingly good roast mutton with gravy what draws me back to Nanglo on Darbar Marg is the Nepali food. This time I took with me a Gurung a Sherpa and a Britisher. Which is the kind of mixed clientele that the Nanglo has always had. Manager Irosh introduced us to Remash Ale our waiter for the evening and Ram Magar our Captain who quickly brought us Mutton Chhwelaa, Chicken and Panneer Sekuwa and momos as starters all of which are Newari specialties.

The Chhwelaa is eaten cold and the secret to a gorgeous afterburn is fenugreek-methi and a chilly, ginger, garlic mixture. It was a hot delight. The Sekuwa, both the Mutton and the Panneer were ancestors of the Tandoori Chicken and are marinaded in a mixture of spices with a strong hint of cinnamon. They are then roasted on skewers. The first restaurant to have a menu and individual tables was opened in Paris in 1782 it was called La Grande Tavern de Londres and like that Tavern which was an instant success so is Nanglo which is in fact a Tavern where booze washes down or heightens the tremendously tasty food.

We ate a Nepali Daal Bhat main course that had a number of delectable items like the meat balls in Kwati which usually combines ten types of beans and is cooked in a medley of spices highlighted by Jwano and Rayo and bay leaves or Tejpata.

Says food writer Majupuria in his definitive book ‘The Joys Of Nepalese Cooking,’ “It is supposed to give great heat to the body” To me it give great satisfaction to the soul, it has a robust peasant taste. Typical and tasty too is the Gundruk and Masyaura an almost curry of which Majupuria says “Gundruk is also eaten with musur i.e., lentil.” The Gundruk and Masyaura ( a lentil preparation) in Nanglo have an addicitive chilly undertaste. There is a magic about Nanglo that makes the Chicken and Mutton Curry taste of curry leaves a magic that brings you back again and again when you want really great comfort food or when you want to meet anybody who is anybody. Sometimes you get a glimpse of Shyam and the wonder is that like his food he remains simple, unspoiled and wonderful. As does his wife Rani who brings the world into the minds of young Nepali’s at Shuvatara who would do well to taste their heritage inexpensively at Nanglo. Actually they probably do — Nanglo is a young people’s place as well.