My second meal is a bit more exotic than Dutch stamppot: Nepalese chicken curry! My friend and colleague, Shusil (at right), actually already had invited me over for dinner before I had the plan for the "80 Meals" project.
When I arrive, only Shusil is there, but just a short while later the lovely Rima arrives, together with her husband, Saroj. They all went to vetschool in Nepal and now Shusil and Rima are doing a MSc at the Veterinary Faculty here in Utrecht.
According to Rima, it is pretty unique to see men at work in the kitchen …in Nepal it is usually the women who do all the cooking. But Rima is lucky; her husband Saroj (at left) enjoys preparing dinner. And Shusil is a good cook too. He learned most of what he knows from his mother.
On the menu tonight is chicken curry (murga) which is not too spicy, adapted to my western tongue. The sauce contains a lot of garlic and ginger. To accompany the deliciously tender chicken, white rice (bhat) is served and fried matchstick potatoes (bhujia). So there is at least one similarity between Dutch and Nepalese cooking: the potato.
The rice is covered with a thin sauce of lentils (dal). Shusil tells me that Nepalese and Indian cooking is quite similar, and indeed, I do seem to remember some of these foreign words from Indian menus in the past.
The meal consisting of chicken curry, rice, lentil sauce and fried potatoes
Rima explains to me:"In Nepal we don’t eat beef, because we are Hindu. For us the cow is a holy animal. We do drink the milk though, and we can eat goatmeat, fish or chicken. Pigs however, are seen as dirty animals, so we don’t eat pork either."
I remark:"So you don’t eat holy animals, or dirty animals,…but only the animals in between!"
She smilingly agrees…
It is interesting how different cultures see pork as being unclean. Both Muslims and Jews will not eat pork, and now it turns out they feel the same way in Nepal!
After dinner, Shusil and Saroj enjoy a beer (Heineken…not very Nepalese) while Rima and I have coffee. Rima tells me how in her culture they only drink tiny sips of strong alcohol, for good luck. For Saroj though, who is from a different caste with different customs, these small quantities take getting used to! I tease him: "So you are convinced that drinking more will bring more good luck as well?"
All in all, this was a great evening with lovely food and lovely people. So much so that Saroj has almost convinced me that I should work in Nepal as a vet after I graduate. I am considering it!