Ubiquitous from the mountains to the lowlands, a vivid Thakali Thali is a staple meal for most Nepalis. The cuisine and culture stands out, almost popularising it worldwide. This time around, my team and I prepared ourselves to better understand this hearty meal that all Nepalis have known to love. We aim to incorporate this culturally rich dish on our menu, authentic plates of Thakali Thali right here at Genesis. All geared up, we began the expedition.
The winding terrains led us to Pokhara, but not without a fair share of congestion and bad weather. The trip would’ve taken only a few hours but the downpour set us back on our schedule. It was dark by the time we reached the valley of Pokhara. We were greeted by a good friend of mine, Smookie at one of the popular Thakali joints. We were hoping that good food and a good night’s sleep would revitalise us for the next day.
Without surprise, our morning started on a positive note. Roaming around the beautiful Lake City, we reached the German Bakery for breakfast. Admiring the beautiful sunny day and their cosy little organic garden at the back, we commenced forth on our day.
To set us on route to better understand the cuisine, we met Samrat Prasad Gauchan. Accumulating much needed insight, he shared with us notes on the historical and cultural background of the Thakali community. We hit the rugged trails to Lete with high hopes.
We had a long day ahead of us, Lete is over 119 km away from Pokhara City. Overcoming bumpy roads, witnessing stunning landscapes we finally reached the quiet old village of Lete.
Upon reaching, we decided to stay the night at Four Peaks Hotel recommended by a good friend of mine, Anamika Gauchan. Hoping for an exciting day tomorrow, some rest and relaxation ensued.
The morning revealed its glory, we were blessed by clear skies and witnessed the peaks surrounding Lete. Then we decided to talk to the hotel owner and her mother in law to possibly persuade them to show us how the Thakali Thali is made. We were refused the opportunity, however, the hope was once again alive and well after we were directed to Pine Forest Lodge and Restaurant to meet someone.
Subba sir, whom we met at the lodge talked a great deal about authentic Thakali food and the different adaptations found around the country. In particular, the terrain, the crops, grains available and its recipes. We spoke in depth on the making of authentic Dheendo, barley soup and so on. He chuckled and shared with us how he could immediately distinguish the authentic from the rest.
Two days after the journey began, we were now riding towards Marpha, a village development community in Mustang district. Camouflaged in wonderful colours of nature, the town was calling us and a few hours later the historic Mustang gate welcomed us. A small excursion in beautiful Marpha, and we stepped into Neeru Guest House where we met its owner. We sparked up a dialogue to learn about her roots. Enlightened about the spices being used in the famed Thakali Thali after talking to her, we headed back to Four Season hotel. The charmed town of Marpha definitely got us the feel of Thakali traditions and food.
Hoping to uncover something deeper, we talked to the President of Ama Samuha, Parbat Sherchan. A long yet informative conversation, Sherchan and I spoke on the methods and styles of traditional cooking. The cuisine incorporates distinctive ingredients such as Buckwheat, Barley, Timur, Ghee, Jimbu et cetera into the staple Nepali khana of lentil soup, rice, vegetables and meat curry. Creativity definitely fuels our passion for cooking. Thanking her we replenished our bikes with petrol and headed out. Adventures like this encourage us to make more trips and promote more local produces and the Nepali heritage.
A well-deserved break awaited us as we headed back to Pokhara on Day 4. We headed to Ozone Club and met with its owner Mahendra Gurung and spent some time at Ozone Expedition Nepal. The journey that took us from the pot-holed roads of dusty Kathmandu to serene yet rugged terrains in Mustang was nearing its end. And what better way to end it with some cold refreshing beers with our good old friend, Smookie. After a great night we head back to Kathmandu city. Our five-day trip came to an end right where we started it, Genesis. Now it was time to put to the test whatever information we had soaked.
We headed out to gather fresh ingredients early in the morning to Kalimati, one of the biggest fresh food bazaars. The bustling market flaunts a variety of fresh ingredients and we stocked up on some plump tomatoes, fresh ginger, radishes and nicely dried gundruk; ideal for the authentic Thakali Thali. Finally, my culinary skills and creativity were put to use. Genesis now proudly presents our very own rendition of an authentic Thakali Thali. Beautifully plated on copper plates, the true taste of the high Himalayas comes right to your table.