Where is the Best Culinary Experience in the Himalayas?

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At the turn of the 21st Century Nepal was considered a barren land in terms of cuisine. Bland curries were the staple of most hotels. But, sixteen years on, there has been an absolute sea change both in Kathmandu itself and further afield in villages such as Dhulikhel.

With its gaggle of ex pat restaurants and bistros, Kathmandu now offers anything from delicious French café fare to excellent Japanese cuisine and superb German/Austrian bakeries.

In Nepal, momos often form traditional appetizers which are simply delicious. They are much like a dim sum with an array of fillings, from fresh vegetables, raw or steamed, to minced pork or chicken, with garlic, ginger and sometimes a touch of chilli and steamed to bring lightness and a depth of flavour.

The big surprise was our stay at the gorgeous Dwarika’s Dhulikhel. It is without a doubt the most stunning place to stay on the outskirts of Kathmandu, away from the traffic and pollution, built with beautiful local, clay handmade bricks and tiles overlooking the magnificent Kayrepalanchowk valley. Not only is incredibly beautiful, but it also offers the most exquisite food which is every bit deserving of a Michelin star.

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The restaurant, very ably run by Pramod, is Michelin star in quality and presentation. Dining here each evening is a real joy and Pramod delights and surprises with his delectable inventions which normally takes the shape of four or five courses, small portions which are healthy and inspired by their philosophy of wellness.

They grow their own vegetables, salads, grains and herbs and they are presently building a demonstration kitchen next to their kitchen garden, so guests can pick the fresh ingredients before cooking them. They are also introducing quails and ducks for their eggs and water buffalo for their milk and yoghurt. They incorporate quite a bit of yak’s cheese, too. Theirs is a belief of self-sufficiency.

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The chef’s passion is evident in every dish he creates. Whether it is a superb lunch, served al fresco overlooking the Himalayan mountains and consisting of gazpacho or salads with mesclun, fenugreek, pomegranate seeds and yak cheese or a five course tasting menu for dinner, you are in for a real treat!

They have the most wonderful teas both in your room and at the main lodge – of the finest loose leaf Jasmine and Green teas, a wonderful blend of herbal tea and Lepcha – a black tea. They serve organic coffee and they have decent French wines to choose from.

Breakfast is world class. Apart from having a range of excellent pastries, they offer fresh wheatgrass juice each morning, a fresh fruit-of-the-day juice – watermelon, pineapple, mango etc. – and then they have a detox juice – beetroot, ginger and apple, for example.

They offer around 6 different breads for toast, including millet and buckwheat. They have fresh fruit, five different types of local honey which is simply sublime, and their own breathtakingly good jams of papaya and pineapple. 

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They also offer cooked breakfast – both Western and Nepali. The Nepali breakfast was divine – a rice pancake with steamed onion, garlic, zucchini and carrot and coriander with an egg in the middle. Quite delicious! Which is why – most people don’t require lunch!

Pramod also offers cookery courses – as he generously takes delight in sharing his secrets and skills. Needless to say, momos headed the agenda! But the joy of this lovely establishment, where service is second to none, is that the staff sit down and discuss your dietary requirements and discuss them with the chef. He will then create dishes for you – a mini degustation menu – with a multitude of palate teasers.

Pramod obtained his training in France and it shows. But, unlike the traditional rather heavy French cuisine, he delivers a light touch, utilising farm fresh produce.

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The joy is that there are plentiful wonderful walks as well as yoga each day and a rim-flow swimming pool, so you can keep any extra calories at bay!

So, whether visiting Nepal itself, which has so much on offer, and the most beautiful walks and rural villages, or staying there en route to Bhutan – which also has the most fantastic food in properties of Como Hotels or the Aman group – you are in for a real culinary treat!

Images courtesy of The Dwarika’s Group of Hotels & Resorts

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Posted by: Nicola Shepherd

Posted on: 13th September 2016

Read more: Posts about Asia

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