Khana khanu bho?Bhojan Griha reopens offering guests the Nepali staple
When Nepalis run into each other on the street, most greet each other with
“खाना खानु भो ?” which literally means ‘have you eaten your rice’? It is our ‘good morning’, ‘good evening’ and everything in between. And one is not supposed to respond with a detailed account of the food that was eaten.
But what is it about dal bhat that Nepalis (and many visitors) just cannot do without? It is a comfort food, like a warm hug. For Nepalis outside Nepal, it is a reminder of home. And some trekkers seem to get addicted to the carb kick dal bhat gives.
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“It is so wholesome, so tasty. Perhaps it is tasty because it is wholesome,” explains Prabigya Basnet of Bhojan Griha, a Nepali restaurant in Nepal that has just reopened in a renovated historic building in Dilli Bazar.
She adds: “Everything is freshly cooked and prepared, there are all these spices and different flavours. It is a balanced diet, it is ayurveda on a plate.”
Bhojan Griha offers options for everyone: vegetarian, non-vegetarian and even vegans. White fluffy rice (or brown, or red) flavoured with ghee, warm and hearty lentil soup, seasonal vegetables, a potato dish and achar, perhaps of gundruk, lapsi or radish. A bowl of yogurt or a glass of lassi can be a refreshing accompaniment. For meat lovers, there is either a chicken or mutton curry. Some add fish or eggs to the set.
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At Bhojan Griha most dishes are prepared using organic produce from Basnet’s family-run Three Trees Permaculture Farm in Bhaktapur. “The idea is to share and preserve ethnic Nepali cuisine, and give visitors a flavour of Nepali food and culture,” says Basnet, as a group performs Tamang selo dance number between the low-set chairs and tables.
Before the main course, there are starters: makai and bhatmas combo (popcorn and soybean), alu-jira (a quintessentially Nepali potato with cumin pickle), aila (the potent Newa liquor), steamed momo and quati (the healthy sprout bean broth).
Read also: Exploring Nepal's culinary diversity, Sahina Shrestha
Dal bhat is served on a traditional chares ko thal (a brass plate) with the black lentil and greens arrayed around a mound of rice. Seasonal vegetable dishes, including cauliflower and mushroom, are added, as are chicken and mutton curries.
Bhojan Griha has a set menu but also does à la carte with festival-specific menus. The day this reviewer visited, most tables were taken inside the newly-refurbished interior.
The restaurant is housed in a 150-year-old heritage building that was once the residence of the royal priest of the kings of Nepal. It was set up in 1998 by tourism entrepreneur Bharat Basnet who renovated the crumbling building.
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Says Prabigya Basnet about her father’s passion for nature and culture: “Growing up, he used to take us for clean-up campaigns and bird-watching, he made us outdoorsy and nature lovers, he always said we can give back a lot. So I always dreamt of doing something in Nepal,”
She also heads Kheti Bazar which sells fresh produce from the family’s farm and has a store called Khali Khutta that specialises in handmade products made with ethically sourced, biodegradable materials.
At Rs3,525 per plate, Bhojan Griha is on the pricer side, and perhaps could have experimented with some of its dishes. But the new modern ambience and historic setting make for a gastronomically stimulating night out.