The distinct heavy smell of ghee from the kitchen fills up the dining room whenever you visit any thakali restaurant or any thakali kitchen.
Travelling is all about gathering experiences and memories from the place that you visit. Some explore for adventure, while for some, it’s all about culture, tradition, and lifestyle, and some wander to places just to enjoy the authentic and delish traditional cuisines.
Countries are filled with cultures and traditions with their unique portrayal of it. Therefore, if you ask anyone in Nepal about Thakalis, no one will miss out on their delicious cuisine, Thakali Khana Set, a main course dish. Thakali people are an ethnolinguistic group originating from the Thak Khola region of the Mustang District. Thakalis are considered to be very organized people with neat kitchens and tidy houses. Well, a plate of Thakali Khana Set does exhibit this to be true.
The uniquely set-out plate is filled with a variety of main and side dishes in a very organized way. Usually, the set is served in a dermang, a bronze plate traditionally used by Thakali people, and similar bronze bowls are also used to complete the entire course.
The distinct heavy smell of ghee from the kitchen fills up the dining room whenever you visit any thakali restaurant or any thakali kitchen. While you are waiting for the main course, they serve you Khyamba, a popular snack food made from buckwheat. Then after they set out the main course dish. Long grain basmati rice, dal (lentil soup), tareko alu (spicy potato), spinach, and meat for non-veg are served with chap/golbjeda ko chutney (fresh tomato pickle) and mula ko achaar (white radish pickle). For vegetarians, a different set of curry/ vegetables is prepared. Though the dishes sound very simple, the aroma of ghee in lentil soup, light yet distinct taste and smell of timur (zanthoxylum alayum) in curry, and fresh appetizing relish are the unforgettable facets of the thakali khana set.
With a growing craving for Thakali Set, the cuisine is not only limited to kitchens of Thakalis. Out of a total of 600 Thakali Bhanchha Ghars (Thakali Restaurants) in Nepal, 400 lie inside Kathmandu valley itself. The number comprises all levels of Thakali Restaurants from local to expensive ones with better ambiance. The authentic traditional setting to dine for Thakali Khana Set is not on the table but by sitting on chakati (small carpet) with crossed legs. Also, in Nepalese culture, we have our main course with our hands and not spoons. Expensive restaurants and hotels might also enhance the feel with some ethnic touch. They present you with traditional folk dances and even waiters/waitresses attend in traditional thakali attire.
Many people visit thakali restaurants with their family and friends, and it does not always have to be a special occasion. So, dining out for Thakali Khana Set is on everyone’s list, be it a local citizen or a tourist. And if you haven’t tried it yet, do visit a Thakali restaurant for your next dine out. Your first time will not be the last one!