One of the festive rituals that India shares with its neighbour Nepal is the worshipping of goddess Durga and her nine avatars. What is called Navratri, Durga Puja and Dusshera in India—marked by the triumph of good over evil—is known as Dashain in Nepal. It is celebrated with much fanfare as friends and families get together, and a large spread of food, that involves various types of meat preparations, is laid out.
Mutton or khashi is most prized and it’s cooked into a curry with fat and meat on the bone for maximum flavour. Even offals, like the brain of the goat, goes into a dish named Bhuteko khashi ko tauko. Gurugram’s Cafe Lungta has a special limited edition Dashain thali with mutton curry and the goat brain dish dry roasted in masalas. “Bhuteko means bhuna and tauko is brains. It is prepared with a spice blend that we source from Nepal,” explains Lopsang Galchen, manager, Cafe Lungta. Other types of meat, like beef or buff, pork and chicken, are part of the Dashain menu too.
The festive thali is a balance of meat, vegetables and condiments like instant pickles. “Our achaars are a medley of vegetables like carrot, radish, cucumber and potato. They are prepared in mustard oil and grounded sesame which gives them a distinct nutty flavour,” says chef Ramesh Chetri of Lungta. In addition to the pickles, there’s the curd-based Chukhauni which similar to raita. It has boiled potatoes, cucumbers, onions and chillies mix with curd and tempered with mustard oil and mustard seeds.
A sweet that’s common to Dashain and Diwali in Nepali kitchens is the selroti. These large, easy-to-share, deep-fried snacks look like bangles and are a festive favourite. They are made with coarsely ground rice flour, ghee and sugar. “The trick to make these is to ensure that the rice is not powdered like refined flour. Coarsely grounded rice gives it a crunchy texture. Although, one can mix in a little maida to bind. For flavour, we add a bit of ground black pepper and green cinnamon,” says Chettri. Cafe Lungta’s Dashain thali, priced at ₹1000 is available till October 20. Those not from Gurugram or Delhi NCR, can try their hand at making selroti with this recipe.