Get a taste of Nepali-North East Indian fusion food in Chandivli
Experience the unique cuisine born out of the synergy between Nepalese and North-East India's culinary sensibilities
Refugees are not merely displaced people, but an entire community that is far removed from its culture and history. It is essentially the displacement of an ethos. And slowly, but steadily, they metamorphose into a new identity becoming a community unto themselves. Prashant Pradhan's ancestors, like many others, migrated to India for reasons even he isn't sure of for it happened 200 years ago.
And over the years their progeny formed small Nepalese communities in the hill states of India's north east. As these communities adapted to the subcontinent so did their cuisine, a glimpse of which will be offered at a tasting at Pradhan's Chandivli home. Originally from Siliguri, Pradhan tells us, "People often confuse Nepalese food with North-East Indian food, but there are many differences. For example, Assamese cuisine uses a lot of pork, whereas Nepalese people are more inclined towards using ranga, which is water buffalo meat."
Khassi ko pakku
Cooking is a passion for the 38-year-old and the inspiration is his mother Ganita Pradhan. "At 71, my mother is prone to forgetting recipes. We cook together and I try to help her out, but she is the head chef," he quips. This month, the mother-son duo are opening up their home to the likes of us, who stand as alert as cats who can hear their dry food clanking into their bowls, when we sniff out an unusual meal.
On the menu are authentic dishes intrinsic to the Indo-Nepali cuisine, such as, sel roti, a bread made out of soaked, air-dried and pounded short-grain rice flour, cardamom, cinnamon, sugar, ghee and milk. There's also the chau ko sabzi, a stir fry made with oyster mushrooms, sautéed with onion, garlic, tomato, turmeric powder and salt. "We do not use any spices in this dish because the mushrooms itself are so flavourful," Pradhan explains.
Aloo ko achaar
Nepalese food, too, is further bifurcated into Thakali and Newari cuisines, named after the two sects of the community and is nuanced. Take, for example, the gundruk ko jhol, a quintessential Thakali dish, which is a light broth made with fermented spinach leaves and akin to South India's rasam. Whereas the mula matar ko achaar is a tangy side dish consisting of soaked white chickpeas and radish, a trademark of the Newari people.
Also on the list, are khassi ko pukku, a marinated and slow-cooked mutton gravy flavoured with onion, garlic, ginger, chilli, turmeric powder, coriander powder, mustard oil, asafoetida, bay leaves and more; aloo ko achaar, a side made with potatoes, sesame seed paste, mustard oil, garlic, and dalli — a small and aromatic chilli prevalent in the region. There's also kadko ko salad, a cucumber and cottage cheese salad, mula rah kukhra ko jhol, which translates to chicken gravy and more. For dessert, there's kheer made with milk, short-grain rice, sugar, spices and jaggery.
(From left) Ganita and Prashant Pradhan
For Pradhan junior, cooking is as much a passion as the drive to acquaint Mumbaikars with his community is. And as someone who has much to say about food and little about himself, he tells us, "I am looking forward to welcoming people. I hope they come with an open mind and more importantly, with an empty stomach."
On July 8, 1 pm AT Chandivli (address is shared post online seat booking).
Log on to authenticook.com (to sign up)
Call 8448449122 (for other dates)
Cost Rs 1,200 (per person)
Feast on healthy versions of your favourite junk food at this Bandra outlet