The moveable feast: Maki Newa Bhutu: Japanese and Newari food meet
Jyotsna Shrestha the owner of the Maki Newa Bhutu greets you on the top floor of The Royal Singhi Hotel, Durbar Marg. “Maki was a Japanese lady who was my partner until she want back to Japan and Newa Bhutu means Newari kitchen. We combine the best of both worlds,” says Jyotsna, ordering the Kapa Maki which is a kind of Sushi. Said Chef Pradip Lama, “The vinegared rice wrapped in seaweed, has sesame, soya, sugar and cucumber and you eat it with the strong wasabi (green mustard) and sliced ginger pickle.” The taste mixed in your mouth and you go from the gentle of the flavoured rice to the punch of the wasabi. You are quite literally in seventh heaven which is the top floor of Royal Singhi. “I started working with a Japanese Company when I was 17, I am a Rotarian and I have a few other businesses,” said Jyotsna. She looks relaxed at the end of a working day as the Goma-ae which is Spinach
and bean with sesame sauce and Soya with a dash of whisky swirls your tastebuds. Soya sauce was developed in the far east in 500BC and became essential for Japanese cooking because Japan has no rock salt…
…And a prince created Tofu from soyabean to help him achieve immortality in 130BC.
Pradip Lama the only graduate cook in town brings on the Agedashi-dofu-a Tofu dish. “It is one of the few fried dishes in Japanese cuisine along with Tempura,” says Jyotsna, “And you are expected to dip the Tofu in horseradish paste to cut the heaviness of frying.” The Agedashi-dofu goes from crisp to soft inside, floating in a Soya lake that adds to the delicious flavor.
Jyotsna who is a Master in Economics tried to target Nepalese by inviting them to fulsome Japanese meals. Inevitably they’d ask, “Where’s the Dhal?”
So Jyotsna started Newari food and Bhim brought on the Chatamari the rice pancake made as offering to Digudyo or a Kuldevta as prasad. At Maki Newa, Chatamari has the unusual addition of cummin and minced meat and egg on the pancake taste that much better. But the best combination of Newari and Japanese food is actually Japanese, and is the best kept secret in Japan. Japanese love curry they eat it least once a week and it’s called Curray-ricu and is eaten with chatsune which are Chutneys. There are Japanese gods called Fukujin who preside over seven pickle plants like cucumber, mustard leaf ginger, radish. But the curry in Nepal is expensive since it comes as a solid block of secret ingredients which are melted and the meat and potatoes and carrots added. The curry appeared in Japan in 1863 and by 1866 a gentleman named Noda helped by The Shiseido Parlour made curray-ricu popular.
A lady called Elizabeth Andob has got around the Japanese block of packaged spices by inventing a recipe which only calls for the Japanese tamari and the rice wine, sake other ingredients are cornflouer, garlic, ginger and hot curry powder. An evening at Maki Newa Bhutu with the wonderful Jyotsna stopping by is truly reason enough to come back again and again. The best of all is the Curray-ricu and Jyotsna is the only person who makes it in town for Japanese, Newari comfort food call 4-424191(ext.1801)