Exploring Boudha through a gastronomic lens, we discover that the spiritual place has more than just nirvana to offer.
Boudha in Kathmandu reflects a bit of the whimsical Tibet on the northern border of Nepal. The colorful prayer flags that flutter in the wind, the familiar aroma of incense, Tibetans clad in tshupa and bakkhu, the distant chants of prayers punctuated by a thud of a drum, a blow of a trumpet, and a clap of cymbals is enough to teleport you to the now lost kingdom. Boudha is a culture that has been kept alive and kicking away from its home, and it has so much to offer than what meets the eye. So, the next time you are in Boudha, do all things tourist - perform koras, visit monasteries, and capture all the sights in your camera, but then bring out a bit of the local in you and explore the culinary side of this culture. We promise it will have your taste buds grooving like the prayer wheels.
Paozi at The White Zambala
Although Paozi is basically a large dumpling, it would be an insult to describe it as just that. Paozi, pronounced Pao-zz, are mouthfuls of soft, moist clouds stuffed with juicy chunks of pork. The dough is light, airy and melts in the mouth. Inside, the stuffing is tiny chunks of lightly seasoned pork meat, freckled with spring onions. Dip the dumpling in the home-made chili sauce that it is served with and you will hear yourself moan in pleasure with each bite.
Price tag: Rs. 145 per place (Pork Paozi)
My reaction: “I died and went to heaven.”
Where to find it: The White Zambala Restaurant
Direction: Circumvent the stupa anti-clockwise from the main entrance. Towards the golden bell, when you are almost exactly behind the stupa, a street opens up to the north. Continue down the street. The restaurant is on your right, just two meters from where the street begins, through a big gate that is decorated in bags and clothing, disguised to look like a store. If you miss it, just ask around.
Lhaping is a genius of a dish and therefore difficult to describe. It looks and feels like gelatinous pasta dough but tastes better. Rubbed with dried spices, and paired with a tofu-like concoction made of flour, lhaping can be eaten dry or with soup. The soup is a watery soya sauce seasoned with sesame, some other spices and herbs. Lhaping is a hit amongst the locals here, and thus is as ubiquitous as a prayer flag in Boudha. However, don’t bet on liking it in the first try; it is an acquired taste and will take a few tries getting used to.
My reaction: Went from “I don’t like it a bit” to “I don’t mind snacking on it a few times a week” over a period of time.
Where to find it: In the narrow streets of Boudha
Chowmein at The Noodle Factory
This shop MAKES its own noodle!!! And as if that wasn’t enough, it has created an avatar of chowmein that even Matt, Gary, and George will be proud of. A heap of freshly made noodles, swimming in a puddle of sauce, topped with wilted water lettuce and a generous dollop of fried minced meat, this chowmein is nothing like any chowmein you’ve tried before. Each forkful will make you dig in for more until there is nothing left on the plate; trust me it is a massive portion. You will want to get down on your knees and thank God for this one.
Price tag: Rs. 170 (full plate)
Rs. 145 (half plate)
My reaction: “Yum!!” and goes back to eating.
Where to find it: Khawa Karpo Tasty Noodle Factory
Direction: Continue down the road from where The White Zambala Restaurant is located. Five minutes and two intersections later, start looking for a clothing store named ‘OMG’ on your left. Khawa Karpo Tasty Noodle Factory is just a few stores away on the same lane.