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A Taste of Nepal

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Nepalese food is all about comforting flavours which make the best of fresh seasonal ingredients, like tomatoes, potatoes, cumin, ginger and coriander. Depending on altitude and the remoteness of the region, the food becomes simpler due to what can be grown.

The cuisine takes influences from Chinese, Indian and Tibetan traditions. At the core of Nepalese cooking are rice and lentils, and dal is often eaten daily. The national dish is dal bhat, a lentil soup served with boiled rice and vegetable curry.

In Sheffield, you can enjoy a taste of Nepalese food at Hungry Buddha in the Moor Market.

We spoke to owner Dev Gurung to find out more and to get his tips on making traditional Nepalese dal.

What is it you love about Nepalese food?

For me, it's comfort food and it's about sharing the food memories that I grew up with. It plays an important part in defining who I am. As a Nepali living in the UK, I missed that sincere and humble offering and the community which sharing food creates. Hungry Buddha hopes to bring a little pocket of that spirit to the people of Sheffield, with an honest offering of flavoursome, subtly spiced, fresh Nepalese food, giving you the real Nepalese food experience.

What inspired you to start Hungry Buddha?

I started to cook when I arrived in the UK as I missed my mum's cooking. Her cooking was the inspiration for me and the comfort food I missed.

Tell us about your menu and your ethos.

Hungry Buddha is my interpretation of Nepalese food. It's my food that has travelled with me through my life. It's healthy. There's no ghee, butter or cream. The ingredients are mostly bought in the market and cooked fresh every day.

Community is the philosophy for Hungry Buddha. We want to create a feeling of belonging through food. A community where you can eat fresh, quality food you love, with a regularly changing menu, all provided with good conversation and friendly service.

We offer Nepalese thali, which features rice, dal, homemade pickles, chutneys and a choice of vegan, vegetarian or meat curry, all washed down with traditional Nepalese tea. Our chapati are freshly made every day too - the perfect complement to your meal.

Can you share any top tips for home cooks wanting to try Nepalese cooking?

Have your store cupboard of spices. In a Nepalese kitchen you'll find cumin, coriander seeds, garam masala, chilli powder, turmeric powder, fenugreek seeds, dried chilies, whole cardamom, fresh ginger and garlic.

Look at ways you can extend the shelf life of your ingredients. For example, ginger and garlic can be prepared in batches and leftovers can be frozen for future use in ice cube trays or zip lock bags.

Nepalese cooking is about the tempering.

Use the market and pick up fresh herbs, spices and other ingredients.

Preparation is key. Have everything ready before you start cooking and your love and passion will come out in the final product.

Finally, what's the secret of dal?

If you have travelled to Nepal, it's very hard to miss the holy trinity of dal bhat and tarkari.

Dal (lentil), bhat (rice) and tarkari (vegetables) is the main staple diet of Nepal. On occasion meat (buffalo, chicken or goat) makes an appearance. Chutney or pickles are brought in to enhance the overall experience. This is what we are trying to bring out at Hungry Buddha.

Nepalese cooking is about the tempering. Before or towards the end of the cooking, hot oil is flavoured with various whole spices - for example, dried chilli, cumin seeds, fenugreek - which gives it identity.

Now that I've disclosed my secret, I'll have to charge everyone who reads this a royalty of £5!

Ros Ayres

nibblypig.co.uk

Hungry Buddha at the Moor Market is open 12-2:30pm, Monday to Saturday.

hungrybuddha.co.uk

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Next article in issue 139

Recipe Nepalese Dal

An Authentic Nepalese recipe that's great for veggies and vegans.

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