Chef Purna Regmi on the secrets of Nepalese cooking
Nepal is a small country, but it has an interesting, unique cuisine that encompasses elements of surrounding India and China. Nepalese restaurants in the states are few and far between—and in Santa Cruz, they were non-existent until a month ago, with the opening of Himalayan Kitchen. The new restaurant, located on Pacific, doesn’t just serve Nepalese food; they have a large variety of Indian food on the menu as well. Their lunch buffet is a good place to start, as dishes from both cuisines are mixed throughout. GT spoke with chef Purna Regmi, and broke down several of his Nepalese and Indian dishes.
GT: Can you give me a brief description of Nepalese food for someone unfamiliar?
PURNA REGMI: Nepalese dishes are not spicy, and not a lot of oil is used when preparing. All ingredients are fresh and organic. The dishes we prepare in our restaurant adhere to these basic rules of preparing Nepalese food.
What is a momo?
Momo is a Nepalese dumpling with fillings, which can either be vegetarian or non vegetarian. The most popular fillings are meat (any kind/minced), potatoes and cheese and mixed vegetables. It is best served hot with special sauce made with fresh herbs and a blend of different spices.
Sekuwa is roasted meat cooked on skewers, correct?
Sekuwa is a Nepalese dish cooked on top of burning coal and is filled with aromatic spices. It is cooked medium and is juicy and chewy.
You have several biryanis, but one is called the “special biryani.” What is that?
Special Biryani is a fried rice of sorts but with special tadka (a mixture of ingredients like ginger, garlic and bell pepper fried on hot flames) mixed together with special long-grain basmati rice.
Of your handful of Nepali special combos, can you recommend one to me?
Himalayan Thali. It consists of daal (lentil soup), saag (spinach curry), rice, yogurt, and chutney. It can be either veg or non veg. The non veg Himalayan Thali comes with a chicken curry. The variety of flavors and spices makes the Himalayan Thali a must-eat.
810 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 466-9878. PHOTO: CHIP SCHEUER