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Dhindo, a Traditional Buckwheat Porridge, Gains Popularity at Kathmandu Restaurants

 

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At the Mustang Thakali Chulo Restaurant and Bar in Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal, an order of dhindo is accompanied by pickled vegetables, mutton, leafy vegetables, black gram soup and curd. Although people have been eating the buckwheat-based porridge for ages, the dish is suddenly in popular demand, says Milan Raj Subedi, 42, co-owner of the restaurant. Kalpana Khanal, GPJ Nepal
Nepal

Dhindo has always been a staple food for people in the hill and mountain areas of Nepal, where millet and buckwheat are grown. But the porridge is now becoming popular in upscale restaurants and hotels in Kathmandu.

KATHMANDU, NEPAL — Anil Sherchan, the lead cook at Mustang Thakali Chulo Restaurant and Bar in Kathmandu’s tourist neighborhood of Thamel, grabs a plate to serve up an order of dhindo.

The restaurant is known for serving typical Nepali cuisine, says Milan Raj Subedi, 42, the restaurant’s proprietor. “People have been eating dhindo as a staple food from the ancient time,” he says.

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Milan Raj Subedi, 42, and his wife, Babita Subedi, 41, are the owners of Mustang Thakali Chulo Restaurant and Bar at Thamel in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city. The couple say their restaurant is known for serving traditional Nepali food, and that it has been serving dhindo since 2007.

Kalpana Khanal, GPJ Nepal

Open since 2007, Mustang Thakali Chulo has always served dhindo, but in recent years the dish has become more popular.

“There was a tendency to sneer at the mention of dhindo,” Subedi  says. But today, he says, 30 percent of his customers come to eat dhindo.

That trend is emerging throughout the Kathmandu valley, with restaurants and hotels in the Thamel, Sundhara, Baneshwor and Sinamangal areas adding dhindo to their menus.

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Anil Sherchan, the lead cook at the Mustang Thakali Chulo Restaurant and Bar, prepares a pot of dhindo. He skillfully adds hot water to a doughlike mixture of buckwheat flour and water. The hot water, he says, can be added to the dhindo as needed, until the right consistency is achieved.

Kalpana Khanal, GPJ Nepal

Dhindo is shedding its reputation as a poor man’s meal, thanks in part to the health benefits that customers describe. Rice, a more common staple, can leave customers bloated or too full. But dhindo, made from buckwheat and served in a doughy consistency with vegetables, curries and traditional sauces, leaves customers feeling full but not heavy, Subedi says.

Suman Pant, a customer eating the dish at Thakali Bhansa and Sekuwa Café, says he discovered dhindo after he came to Kathmandu. Now, he says he recommends it to his friends, calling it a food with many benefits.

“When we eat rice, we would feel very uncomfortable. It can cause abdominal pain,” he says. “But dhindo does nothing like that.”

Kedar Adhikari, a customer eating dhindo at Mustang Thakali Chulo Restaurant and Bar, says that he comes there twice a week for the dish. Adhikari, a native of Dhading, where dhindo is a staple, was thrilled to find dhindo in Kathmandu restaurants.

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Tabi Magar, 39, the assistant cook at the Mustang Thakali Chulo Restaurant and Bar, sautés vegetables in the kitchen. The leafy greens are one of the many side dishes served with dhindo.

Kalpana Khanal, GPJ Nepal

“I have known dhindo from my childhood,” Adhikari says. “If it is eaten as a lunch, you will not feel hungry throughout the day.”

Durgaman Sherchan, the proprietor of Thakali Bhansa and Sekuwa Café in the Baneshwor neighborhood of Kathmandu, says that dhindo is made to order there, served piping hot to customers alongside flavorful side dishes that often include curried vegetables, mustard greens, pickled vegetables and meat curries, ranging from fish to chicken to goat. Dhindo is traditionally prepared with clarified butter, salt and garlic.

Most proprietors agree that dhindo is not yet popular with foreigners, but its presence on many hotel and restaurant menus is likely to change that.

Dhindo sells for between 230 and 355 rupees per plate.

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Kedar Adhikari, 25, (left) and Mani Khatiwada, 27, say they come to Mustang Thakali Chulo Restaurant and Bar twice a week to eat dhindo. Adhikari has been eating dhindo since he was a child, and says he was thrilled to see the dish being served in restaurants throughout Kathmandu.

Kalpana Khanal, GPJ Nepal


WHAT YOU NEED
Large pot with a lid
Wooden spoon

INGREDIENTS
4 1/3 cups (about 1 liter) water
1 cup (200 grams) buckwheat flour

Serves 2-3 people 

HOW TO MAKE DHINDO
1. Boil 4 1/3 cups of water per 1 cup of buckwheat flour.

2. Slowly pour in the buckwheat flour.

3. Stir with a wooden spoon to ensure that no lumps are formed.

4. Once that is mixed, put a lid on the pot and let it simmer slowly on the stove, on medium-low heat.

5. After 20 seconds, remove the lid and stir the mixture.

6. Don’t step away! Dhindo should be stirred a minimum of four to five times while cooking.

7. Remove the lid and stir the ingredients every so often to ensure the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pot. If necessary, add small amounts of hot water to achieve the perfect consistency. When you have achieved a doughy and slightly sticky consistency, your dhindo is ready.

8. Accompany your dhindo with your choice of sides dishes, or take a note from Mustang Thakali Chulo Restaurant and Bar and serve it with pickled vegetables, mutton, leafy vegetables, black gram soup and curd.