Maghe Sankranti – Celebration of Winter and Food

Food is always a big part of our festivities and religious affairs. It holds true for probably all the cultures and religions around the world. Maghe Sankranti however is an special affair with food. Without much of rituals and ceremonies taking place, it is more about celebrating the transition of weather and season’s food offerings.

vendor chaku maghe sankranti nepalStreets vendors spring up in the streets selling items eaten in Maghe Sankranti

We follow a different calendar than the Gregorian calendar. Although with similar frame/format, the months are different and the start and end of the months do not match. Maghe Sankranti is observed on the first of Magh (which falls on 15th January) bringing an end to the gloomy days of winter or the month of Poush. It also marks the beginning of the auspicious and religious undertakings which were on hold during the past month. On this day the sun is believed to leave its southernmost position and begin its northward journey signifying the start of warmer days. It is similar to solstice festivals in other religions.

vendor maghe sankranti nepalStreet vendor selling sweet brittles,fudges and sweets

All the food associated to celebration of Maghe Sankranti are made with ingredients that are warming in nature. Sankranti delicacies signify celebration of winter fighting foods. The various communities in Nepal celebrate it in their own ritualistic way. However,Some of these foods are common to all communities.
The newar community have their own version of these items while for the Tharu community based in the central terai region, Sankranti holds a major value in their festive calendar. Maghi as Maghe Sankranti is called by the tharu community is their biggest festival. We will be talking about what food is associated with the newari community in the next post.

The essential food items of Maghe Sankranti are primarily made out of Sesame and Molasses. We list down some Maghe Sankranti essentials

Tarul ( Yam)

Yam called Tarul in Nepal is an absolute essential in Maghe Sankranti. Appearance of tarul vendors in the market 10-15 days before sankranti start bringing in the feel of Maghe Sankranti being around the corner. Tarul come in different varieties.

tarul vendor maghe sankranti nepalTarul vendors selling varieties of Tarul. The festive shopping aura of going out on the streets is exhilarating

tarul maghe sankranti nepal 1A variety of Tarul called Ghar Tarul which literally translates into ‘Home Yam’. This is the most commonly found tarul

tarul maghe sankranti nepal 2 tarul maghe sankranti nepalThis variety of tarul is called Hatthi Paila Tarul which literally translates into ‘Elephant’s Feet yam’

tarul maghe sankranti nepalThe variety of tarul called Ban Tarul which is the ‘Wild Yam’

Tarul is eaten boiled. The warm steamed flesh is eaten without any condiments or sides. We will put up how to cook tarul and set up your sankranti platter in the next post with all the recipes

Teel ko Laddu ( Sesame Seed Ball Sweet) 

Teel Laddu is a sweet snack peculiarly associated to Maghe Sankranti not often eaten other time of the year. Teel laddu come in two varieties : White and Black, using white and black sesame seeds respectively.

black teel laddu maghe sankranti nepal

Kalo Teel Laddu ( Black Sesame Sweet Balls) are often found packaged like these in the market for the convenience. Some households still insist and make this preparation at home. Black sesame seeds are mixed with liquified molasses and rolled into small balls.  

white teel laddu maghe sankranti nepalSeto Teel Laddu ( White Sesame sweet balls). White sesame seeds are mixed with liquified sugar to make these balls. 

Chaku ( Hardened Molasses block)

Chaku is a sweet made out of Hardened molasses cooked with gheu/ghee( clarified butter), milk and toppings such as dried coconuts, dates and peanuts. Like all other commercialization, chaku is readily available in the market in various shapes and sizes. Some people still make chaku at home with control over quality of ingredients which all market products often seem to miss

chaku maghe sankranti nepalChaku blocks being sold in packets at a vendor

Murai ko Laddu ( Crunchy Puffed Rice Balls)

Murai ko laddu is a sweet crunchy ball made by mixing hot molasses into puffed rice and rolled into balls. Roasted peanuts and dried coconuts are  added to Murai ko laddu sometimes.

puffed rice laddu maghe sankranti nepalMurai ko Laddu packages being sold at a vendor

These are the absolute essentials of Maghe Sankranti celebrations. We had a fun time shopping, photographing and putting together this list for you. Do share your experiences of your sankranti celebration in the comments below. Share your feedbacks too.

Happy Maghe Sankranti Folks! The Festivities officially being!

Juju Dhau Red Velvet Cake Recipe [Christmas Special]

juju dhau red velvet cake nepal

We proudly boast of a calendar full of festivals the whole year round. Still never short of an accommodating heart, we have encompassed festivities like Christmas pretty well. With a lot of growth happening in the food industry and better exposure to global food culture, this accommodation has grown exponentially in the recent years.

To add to all that embracing, developed in-house at Kathmandu Foodies kitchen along with a fair bit of inspiration from around the web – We bring you an innovative recipe rehash on the dessert du jour ,The red velvet cake. Sticking to our commitment for being innovative with local ingredients we have given a twist to the red velvet cake by using Juju Dhau (An  iconic variety of Yoghurt from Bhaktapur city of Nepal) instead of a cream frosting. Initially we were pretty much skeptic about the flavor profile of this recipe but the results amazed us. The recipe is a nostalgic tasteful of Juju dhau with which we Nepalese  can instantly connect along with peculiarity of red velvet cake that is the “dessert-in-vogue” of the dessert world right now.

juju dhau bhaktapur nepal

Juju Dhau is particularly sold in hand-made clay pots which is signature to this produce.Word ‘Juju’ translates in to King and ‘Dhau’ meaning curd/yoghurt in the Newari Language. Thus, Juju Dhau is regarded as the King Curd. The specialty in owed to its thick and creamy texture

So here is to the exciting time of the year. The lights, the warmth, the joy in the air and also the year coming to an end. A fairly easy recipe to light up your meal with the colors of Christmas while not missing on the ‘nepalipan‘.

Ingredients For Red Velvet Sponge

Sifted Plain Flour ………….2 ½ cup (250 grams)

Salt …………..½ teaspoon

Sifted Regular Unsweetened Cocoa powder………….2 tablespoons (15 grams)

Buttermilk…………….1 cup (240 ml)

Liquid Red Food Coloring…………….. 2 tablespoons

Vanilla Extract……………1 tablespoon

Unsalted butter at room temperature …………..1/2 cup (113 grams)

Granulated White Sugar …………..1 ½ cups (300 grams)

Eggs ………… 2 eggs

White Distilled Vinegar…………. 1 teaspoon

Baking Soda………..1 teaspoon

For Juju Dhau Frosting

Juju Dhau ……… 2 litres

(Make hung curd out of the Juju Dhau for 4 hours)

juju dhau hung curd

Juju Dhau hung in a muslin cloth. A bowl is set under to collect the dipping water content from the curd

7 inch round baking tray – 2 or 1 will work ( Bake the sponge in two shifts)

How to Make it:

- Preheat the oven to 180C. Line the tray with a parchment paper and walls with oil spray. In case of unavailability of paper and spray, grease the pan with butter and dust with plain flour. Set aside

-In a mixing bowl sift together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.

juju dhau red velvet cake nepal

- In bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer or old school hand whisk, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

- In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring. With the mixer on low speed or with the hand whisk, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

juju dhau red velvet cake nepal

- In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter.

- Working quickly, divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans ( or divide the vinegar-soda mixture for two parts and use the same pan for two bakes) and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 25 -30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack until warmth fades away.

- Beat the hung Juju dhau to a consistency of cake frosting cream. Scrape curve top of one of the cake and layer well with the beaten juju dhau. Add the second cake on the top.Frost with juju dhau on the top and on the sides. Use the scrapes of the first cake to make a crumble. Use to decorate the outside of the cake (Like seen in the picture). Refrigerate for 2 hours.

juju dhau red velvet cake nepal

Time: 50 mins + refrigeration | Serves: 8 | Difficulty: Easy

Note: The only limitation to using Juju Dhau is the shelf life of the cake. We recommend consuming the cake immediately or within 2 days under refrigerated conditions. Juju Dhau tends to get sour fairly quickly.Do write to us for questions, suggestions and your experiences 

Classic Momo Cha Jhol Achar recipe

classic momo cha jhol recipeMomo cha is typically eaten with an achar (sauce) of much thinner consistency than the regular Momo achar. 

Winter is coming. Much like in all of Westeros - We here in Kathmandu valley are bracing ourselves for the upcoming winter. The evenings are chillier and the nights are colder. And there has been no more of a better hot and spicy comfort food for a Kathmanduite than a bowl of steaming hot Momos and a lip-smacking sauce. We bring you a Classic Sauce recipe for a variety of Momo dish called Momo Cha. Momo Cha is a traditional Newari dish characterized by bite sized Buff-Momos served in a bowl with a sauce drowning the momos. The momos in momo cha are typically smaller than the regular varieties of momo. The sauce is much milder in chilly factor while a suitable combination and ratio of spices make it palatable to be eaten in a larger quantity.
This recipe is a classic and basic recipe for a Momo cha jhol achar. The flavor and the character of this sauce can be commonly found in numerous  momo cha serving eateries around the valley. There are however a lot of other popular momo cha serving eateries in town which are known for their distinct jhol achar recipes.
classic momo cha ingredients

Basic ingredients that form mostly all types of Momo achar recipes including the Momo Cha Jhol Achar

Ingredients

Ripe small tomatoes……………………………… 15 pieces

Dried red Chilly……………………………………..3 pieces

Finely chopped fresh corainder…………………2 Tablespoon

White Sesame seeds (Teel)……………………..2 Tablespoon

Cumin Seeds (Jeera)……………………………….1 Teaspoon

Cinnamon Powder (Dalchini)……………………1/3 Teaspoon

Clove Powder (Lwang)……………………………1/3 Teaspoon

Szechwan pepper Crushed (Timur)…………..1/3 Teaspoon

Black pepper powdered………………………….1/3 Teaspoon

Roughly Chopped Ginger………………………..1 Tablespoon

Roughly Chopped Garlic………………………….1 1/2 Tablespoon

Turmeric Powder (Haldi)…………………………1 Tablespoon

Lemon…………………………………………………..Juice of 1

Sugar…………………………………………………….1 teaspoon

Salt……………………………………………………….1 teaspoon, adjust to taste

Mustard oil or Vegetabel oil………………………2 Teaspoon

How to Make it:

1. Roast the Sesame and the Cumin together. Set aside

2. Heat the oil in a pan. Add ginger,garlic and saute until light brown. Throw in whole dried red chilly and tomatoes cut into halves. Add turmeric, clove powder, Szechwan pepper, black pepper, cinnamon, sugar and salt. Cook until tomatoes just start to break down.

classic momo cha ingredients tomatoTry to source smaller ripe tomatoes which are a little sour than large tomatoes. These tomatoes lends the sauce that required tang

3.Add 700 ml of water in the pan.Now add the roasted cumin and sesame. Let it simmer for 5-10 minutes. Set aside and let the mixture cool

4.Add the contents of the pan in to a blender along with the water it was boiling in. Add the lemon juice and blend to a consistency where no lumps or coarse particles remain.

5.Add the finely chopped coriander and stir to uniformly mix.

6.Serve with hot Momos of your choice. Go smack your lips and thanks us later

classic momo cha jhol recipe
Glossary for Nepali words used in this recipe is provided below. We like keeping our international audience in mind :)

classic-momocha-jhol-recipe-glossary

Note: This recipe is only for the Momo Jhol Achar. The Buff-Momos were sourced from Boso Rahit Momo centre,Pulchowk,Kathmandu. The recipe has been researched and developed in-house by Kathmandu Foodies after consultation from required sources. Do write to us for questions, suggestions and your experiences 

Syabhaley – The juicy and crunchy Tibetan import

Having grown around in a neighborhood with significant population of Tibetans and Nepal’s largest Buddhist pilgrimage site – Syabhaley has been ubiquitous in my day to day food quirks.  With the sprawl of Tibetan community (more than a 100 years now), there has been a natural onset of a good number of Tibetan eateries in and around Boudhanath Stupa. And to this day, new openings are coming up. With this onset, Syabhaley was among many other Tibetan imports that seem to assimilate in the Nepali food culture. With all the travelling and influence that Syabhaley took to get here, it has become a deviation of its own to differ from what Syabhaley in Tibet actually is. It is interesting to note and study what changes occurred though this entire cultural and geographically withering journey. However for now, we get to the basics of Sybahaley.

syabhaley boudhanath tibet

Above: Syabhaley at Tibet Kitchen,Boudha Circle. The only reason we would recommend the Syabhaley here is for the view and the ambience. But Tibet Kitchen offers a lot of better options to eat on that front

Syabhaley is a meat-filled deep fried pie or an Empanada sort of Tibetan snack. To us South Asians it would more over compare to a samosa but with meat and a different shape. I can recollect telling my mom that I just ate a ‘Tibetan samosa’ while she inquired me as I came back after hanging out with my street friends in the evening post school. Calling it samosa helped her instantly associate it as ‘that fried Tibetan snack that looks like flat samosa’. Although there is a noticeable difference between cooking methods and the taste characteristics of the two.

syabhaley tibet full

A good Syabhaley is characterized by being fluffy and crunchy. Never too full of the meat filling but always juicy.

syabhaley tibet inside

Here is a Kathmandu Foodie’s guide to eating Syabhaley the ‘Syabhaley Way’. We recommend Syabhaley at New Mechung Restaurant, Boudha Main Street.

how to eat syabhaley guideWith this juicy to-do on your checklist, hope you can make a point and treat your taste buds this holiday. Happy Dashain Folks

Kushal Goyal

Inspiration Galore

In Nepal when you think of food connoisseurs the first name that comes to mind is that of Dubby  Bhagat. When you sit down  with him he will talk to you about the  good things in life, food and travel with so much zeal that you would want  to hop on a plane and explore the food in your new destination  like there’s no  tomorrow.

Hailing from an army background he first started his career with Desmond Doig, Jug Suraiya and a few others in the late sixties and early seventies with Junior Statesman.  He first came to Nepal to cover King Mahendra’s coronation in 1975 and it has been an eternal love affair ever since. He knows of a Kathmandu before Nanglos was conceived and where it still reeked of calm and old world charm. He’s seen those times when Gundruk (dried, fermented greens) would be hung in little bunches on the doors of people’s homes   to the present day restaurant frenzy especially in those little lanes of Jhamsikhel.

dubby bhagat food critic nepal

Lukla holds a special place in his heart having invented a dish out of yak meat and wine on that terrain.  Another reason could be that the region is home to his mountain loving adopted son Rick Dorje Sherpa. He’s also Continue reading