Freelance writer Jennifer Barclay is the author of The Traveller’s Friend: A Miscellany of Wit and Wisom, and Meeting Mr Kim: Or How I Went to Korea and Learned to Love Kimchi. After giving us her expert tips on South Korea in London, here are her highlights for Nepalese cuisine in London:
Namaste! Did you know that the current coach of the Nepali national football team (as of January 2012) is an Englishman named Graham Roberts, who once played for Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur? Or that Prince Harry wants to climb Nepal’s most famous landmark, Everest, in 2012?!
Nepal, situated in the Himalayas, surrounded by China and India, is home to the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest as well as a whopping 27 million people. Gurkhas, soldiers from Nepal, served with the British Army. According to the Nepalese Association, otherwise colourfully known as Himalayan Yeti, 50,000 Nepalis live in the UK.
So it stands to reason that you can find some fine Nepalese cuisine in London. I am much taken with the names of some Nepali restaurants listed outside the capital – how can you resist the Yak and Yeti in Truro – or even better, the Yak Yeti Yak in Bath? But within London, for great food, a welcoming atmosphere and excellent value, it’s hard to beat Munal on the Putney/Barnes border on the Upper Richmond Road; Gurkhas Diner in Balham; or The Great Nepalese near Euston station, a family business since 1982 and also a firm favourite.
Nepalese cuisine is all about blending herbs and spices, and specialities include “momos” or dumplings (one of the most popular food staples in Nepal as well as Tibet and Bhutan) served with hot tomato chutney, lentil pancakes, mutton curry, potatoes with cumin, and plenty of dishes made with ginger, garlic, green herbs and fresh hot chillies. Then there’s black dal, made from lentils grown in Kathmandu; dal bhat, or lentils and rice, is the Nepalese national dish – perfect for sustaining energy when climbing mountains!
The celebration of Nepalese New Year falls in April, and other major festivals like Dashain and Dipawali around October. If you’re looking for musical and other events, first stop should be the website of Nepali Samaj UK, a community website for Nepalese people in the UK. Other information can be found on the website of the Britain-Nepal Society and the Nepalese Association UK, which runs language classes and dance workshops, and encourages people of all communities to participate in its activities.
Where else can you Nepalese culture in London?