Jimbu Thakali: Homely dal-bhat with traditional twist

Food is an essential part of Nepali culture as each part of the country has its own tradition. Kathmandu has its unique Newari delights, Terai has its variety of sweets and the mountain regions have their own unique delicacies. One of such delicacy is the Thakali platter, which originates in the pristine valley of Mustang.

Thakali platter basically has dal-bhat, but with an authentic twist from Mustang. There is something oddly pleasing about dal-bhat as our day is not complete without having a plate full of it. Dal-bhat for us is what fish and chips are for the British. And to try the famous Thakali set, I visited one of the most talked-about Thakali restaurants in Kathmandu– Jimbu Thakali by Capital Grill.

Capital Grill, formerly based in Bhatbhatini, has been serving a variety of Nepali and continental dishes. Now based in Tangal, near the Ganesh temple, the restaurant has expanded and now has a bakery and also offers a genuine Thakali experience.

To get that Thakali experience, I asked for the Chicken Thakali set but before that, General Manager Khem Raj Khatiwada recommended that I try the buckwheat fries (Kanchhemba). With a crispy exterior and soft filling, the fries were truly a healthy replacement for the usual fried, oil-dipped snack options.

As I finished indulging in the unique fries, my meal arrived. The meal at Jimbu Thakali comes with more than 10 different items. At the centre of it is a bowl full of steamed rice, which is surrounded by a variety of dishes like the chicken curry, kalo dal (black lentil), mustange aaloo (spicy fried potatoes), saag, karela (bitter gourd), radish pickle, timur pickle, popadums and a bowl of yoghurt.

The chicken curry felt homely. It was lightly cooked and had the right seasoning and went well with the mouth-watering gravy full of flavours. Along with the chicken curry, I also liked the kalo dal which was thick and full of homely flavours. I felt as if it were cooked by my grandmother.

Along with the chicken and the dal, the mustange aaloo, was probably one of best potato I’d ever had. These kind of spicy fried potatoes aren’t available in many places and maybe it is the owner’s mom’s recipe which gives it such a unique taste along with the saag which was fresh and tangy.

The karela you get is crunchy and compliments your palate along with the radish pickle, which could have been better. The timur pickle, however, was tasty and gave out a pungent odour and tangy flavour. To top it all off, you also get a portion of fresh ghee without which the meal would be incomplete.

Overall, the meal was homely as the food wasn’t overpowering. It reminded me of a meal I had at a tea house while trekking around the Annapurnas. And why wouldn’t it? The essence of the meal does come from the village of Tukche, the owner Bibek Sherchan’s ancestral home. He mentioned how his mom was the reason he introduced Thakali food and has been overwhelmed by the response he has been getting for the past year.

The restaurant also has a place for kids to play and on weekends screens live sports. But what I like the most about this restaurant is the variety of food on offer. Capital Grill, as I mentioned before, serves a variety of food ranging from momo to pizza to even Italian pasta and lasagna.

Photos by: Milan Adhikari

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