Peanut Butter Chappaties

As many people know, Kenny and I eat a lot of peanut butter – it may be our main source of protein. A few friends at work teased me about this, implying that I wouldn’t be able to survive without it in Asia. Well, it turns out I don’t need to! We found a locally-produced peanut butter (without sugar – a very important qualification) at our local FoodWorld in Bangalore last night. There are even some great local recipes on the jar:

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We had some on toast for breakfast this morning, but will need to pick up some chappaties next time we’re at the store.

Saturday Café

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Over the past few days we’ve spend a lot of time at the Saturday Café. We were first wooed by the baked goods at the takeaway stand downstairs. Their bakery stand wouldn’t have been out of place in Seattle or Portland, with its assortment of organic grains and juices. Fresh-baked quality whole wheat bread is near-impossible to find in Nepal, so we grabbed a loaf to snack on.

Later that night, we returned for dinner on their rooftop deck. They have a fine stupa view, though it disappeared when the heavens opened up shortly into our meal.

Their menu is primarily soups and snacks, with momos and a few entrees also on offer. I ordered the hot and spicy tofu stir fry. The peppers and onions were fresh and crispy, and it was served with a large portion of brown rice. Unfortunately the sauce fell flat. Mildly spicy at best, and mostly flavorless and uninspired.

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Lauren ordered the vegetable noodles, which were much better. They had a a good kick, and a large mix of veggies (carrots, onions, assorted greens). On par with a solid yakisoba in the states.

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Saturday Café offers free wireless, so we lingered after dinner, waited out the worst of the rain, and caught up on some blog posts and photos. The staff were very nice, and very chill.

Last night, after a disappointing dinner at Rabsel Garden Café, we were back for a late evening snack.  The momos had caught my eye. We’ve been having a lot of momos lately, but the choices at Saturday Café were unique, including the spinach and paneer ones that we ordered (no pics as we left the camera home that evening). The noodle wrapped around spinach and paneer resulted in a good texture, and while the flavors of the momos themselves were fairly weak, the accompanying dipping sauces perked them right up.

I also ordered the mango sorbet, and was reminded as to why I shouldn’t order frozen desserts in Nepal. Turns out that there are two options for refrigeration here. The first is your standard 40ish degree fridge. The other is a below zero freeze-fest. My sorbet was served in a bowl, but was a block of mango ice. It was in the “hockey puck meets flower” shape of those plastic containers you get from the ice cream truck. While it was tasty enough pureed mango once it slowly defrosted over the next 30 minutes, I wouldn’t recommend expending the effort.

On our last morning, we got up early to catch a bus to Sundarijal and Saturday Café was the only place that we knew was open at 7AM. So we had our final breakfast there. :)

Their porridge is served with apples and raisins, which is not as good a combination as the more common banana approach that we had enjoyed at a different cafe the morning before. It took care of the problem though.

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I had the spinach omelet, which is served with their house-made bread. The omelet was a standard Nepalese-style with spinach mixed in.

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Overall, Saturday Café is a relaxing place to hang out. The deck is pleasant, the staff are very nice, and the food is decent. Prices are a little high for what you get (though still very cheap relative to the US of course), and it’s definitely worth stopping by the bakery for some hiking snacks.

Saturday Café
Bodhnath, Nepal
+977 2073157

Daily: 7:00AM – 8:30PM (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Stupa View Café

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Today for lunch we took advantage of the brief respite from stormy weather to check out the Stupa View Café. They advertise the best view in the city, and their 3 level rooftop deck did not disappoint.

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View from our table

Given the prime location and tourist target, the prices are reasonable (cheaper than the equivalent restaurants in Thamel). As with most places in this Buddhist town, Stupa View is all vegetarian. Conveniently enough, the items we were most interested were all pulled together in their “Potpourri” assortment:

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All five of the included dishes were enjoyable. The best dish (which Lauren was hankering for over the next few days) was the Oriental Lentil Balls. Well-seasoned lentils with a light peanut sauce and crispy on the outside, they were the kind of dish that can put meat to shame.  The fried aubergine was lightly breaded, flash-fried, delightfully crispy, and served with a creamy tzatziki. The pizza was decent, though it was the weakest dish of the bunch. The fruit salad was a refreshing conclusion to the meal, served with fresh fruit in tamarind with mint.

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Fried Aubergine w/ Tzatziki Fruit Salad with Caramel Nuts
Mushroom Pizza
Elephant Feet Oriental Lentil Balls

 

Overall an excellent meal and the next time we’re in Kathmandu/Bodhnath, we’ll be sure to enjoy some oriental lentil balls on the roof!

Stupa View Café
Bodhnath, Nepal
+977 4480262

Lunch and WiFi in Bhaktapur

Kenny and I are sitting in Shiva’s Cafe Corner in Durbar Square. We enjoyed a lunch of vegetable momos and a veggie burger (surprisingly decent!), and since then we’ve been enjoying their hospitality and taking advantage of their wifi to back-post a few photos and stories from the last few days. Here’s the view from our table:

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Yin Yang

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We arrived in Kathmandu this afternoon.   While the past three days of Nepali home cooking have been fantastic, we decided to change things up tonight with some Thai food.

Yin Yang is located just off the main drag in Thamel, in a garden courtyard that is a pleasant oasis from the constant noise, traffic, and hawkers outside. The chefs hail from Thailand, and the food is supposed to be authentic.

We ordered Panang Chicken and Phad See Iw “hot” on their scale of “mild”/“medium”/“hot”.  Due to our skin color, Lauren and I are usually treated with spiciness kid gloves in Asian countries (much to our frustration). However, tonight the Panang Chicken had a decent amount of kick to it, on par with a Thai Tom 3-star. The clay pot kept the curry piping hot throughout our meal.

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The Phad See Iw was served in the same manner as in Thailand, i.e. “spice it yourself”. Just like our noodles experiences in Thailand, our Phad See Iw was quite bland initially and we asked for the spice rack. Four spices later (one each for salty, sweet, hot and sour), the noodles were excellent.

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There’s nothing better to wash down your spicy food than a cold Everest Beer! Everest tasted like most other Asian beers I’ve had (Tsing Tao, Chang, Singha, Tiger, Saigon).

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Overall a delicious Thai meal with attentive service in a lovely setting. What more could we ask for?

Yin Yang
Kathmandu, Nepal
4425510

Khan Chacha

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For dinner on our first night in Delhi, Meera recommended that we try out Khan Chacha, a hole in the wall that serves grilled meats either straight up or as roomali rolls. A roomali roll is meat with onions and yogurt sauce wrapped in a large roomali roti.

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There are basically three choices at Khan Chacha – Seekh Kebab (ground mutton), Chicken Tikka, or Paneer Tikka. Normally 1-2 rolls make a meal. Given that this was my last meal before Yom Kippur (and I didn’t really have a proper lunch), I ordered one of each roomali roll. Lauren had the chicken and paneer tikka rolls.

They were absolutely delicious! The Seekh Kebab was the spiciest and got me sweating a bit. The chicken was charred, very flavorful, and medium spiciness. The paneer offered a softer texture variation along with very mild spices.

So far this is my favorite “fast food” in the region, and we’ll be sure to come back on our return trip through Delhi!

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The Salim brothers at work making kebabs

 

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Happiness is double fisting Seekh Kebab and Chicken Tikka rolls

Khan Chacha
New Delhi, India

Mile-High Curry

We’re halfway to Delhi from Shanghai and just finished dinner service. They served a spinach curry with rotis, chutney, and dal. It was possibly they best airline food I’ve ever had (Cathay Pacific is the only other contender), and tastier than most Indian restaurants in Seattle. The businessman sitting next to Lauren said that even though they are often delayed, he always flies Air India because it’s the best meal he’ll get on his way to Delhi.

If the Indians can do this much with an Airbus kitchen, I can only imagine what awaits on the ground over the next few months! :)

Shanghai

Ni hao from rainy Shanghai.

We arrived around 11pm on Sunday night and crashed immediately. Kenny has an extremely full work schedule this week, with virtually every hour planned out. I have just the opposite – five completely free days to explore the city.

We are staying in a fancy international hotel in the French Concession that Kenny’s co-workers recommended, complete with ridiculous breakfast buffet, fabulous gym facility, tennis courts, and a bowling alley.

Given the wet, gloomy conditions I decided that my first day would be a museum day. Our hotel is only a few Metro stops from People’s Square, so I intended to check out the Shanghai Museum. For some reason the Time Out Shanghai guide  warns that the Shanghai Metro can be difficult to navigate and that foreigners should stick to taxis. I’m not quite sure what they’re talking about – from my experience yesterday, it works just like any other Metro system, and the English signage is abundant. And my few experiences with Shanghai traffic have taught me to avoid taxis if at all possible.

I made my way over to the museum, and before entering started talking with two young women from Hangzhou who stopped me to ask for a photograph. I ended up joining them for tea at a tea room nearby before the museum. They taught me some basic Mandarin and gave me some in-depth explanations about Chinese tea culture and etiquette.

The museum itself was massive, containing extensive collections of Chinese crafts dating back to 6000 BC, including bronze ware, coins, paintings, jade sculpture, and ceramics. I spent a few hours exploring, and took some photos for Kenny, since he’ll be in the office all week and needs to see the city vicariously through me. Here are a few, there are more in my Shanghai set:

Buddha Another Buddha
Jade face used on funeral cloth, placed over a corpse's face Inside the museum

After Kenny got home from work, we enjoyed a delicious Cantonese dinner at the Heng Shan Cafe, just a block from our hotel. Kenny will write a review, of course.

Everything left on my sightseeing agenda for Shanghai involves walking around outside, so I’m taking it easy indoors today to wait out the rain: doing some research on yoga/meditation retreats in Nepal, finishing a few things for work that didn’t get done last week, catching up on my photo backlog. In theory the weather will get better starting tomorrow, and I plan to do a few self-guided walking tours in the Old City, along the Bund, and around the French Concession.