Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cooking in Kathmandu

Now that we have everything hooked up and ready to go in the Kitchen I've been able to start cooking. There are some major upsides to cooking here over what I do at home. The first is the freshness of most of the produce. Most everything you buy came off the plant or out of the ground within a day or so of when you buy it. The fruit is also very fresh and especially the oranges are very tasty. I think some time after April the mangoes start making their way up here from India, though I'm not completely sure. Produce is also incredibly cheap, with most hauls of a bags of vegetables costing anywhere from $0.50 to $1.50 (including cucumbers, carrots, onions, cherry tomatoes, green peppers, cilantro, ginger and garlic). To make it better all of these are available at stalls with 100' of any spot in the city, including my apartment.

Despite all these positives, I still just can't seem to cook like I'm use to. I'm not even sure what is missing. A big part of it is that I am cooking vegetarian. I always have at least a little meat in any meal I would make back home, but that has not been the case here. Instead I have been adding beans or corn to make up for the lack of meat. This stems mostly from the fact that I have no idea how to buy meat here. Back home it comes in a nice neat packet with labeled cuts and what ever desired piece of the animal. Here there is just a whole (or what's left) animal sitting on a table. It's slightly intimidating. With chicken for instance I see them all the time, but I have no idea if you can buy just leg or breast meat, or if you just have to buy the whole chicken and pull it apart yourself. Sometime soon I'm going to have to figure this all out because I am not any good at being a vegetarian. A stir fry without meat is like spring without rain.

I've also discovered I'm just not a big fan of starches. Most meals I cooked back home were stir fries and salads that consisted of lots of fruits and vegetables with some kind of grilled or pan seared meat. I can only take so much potatoes, rice and noodles. I do however like bread, especially Indian naan and roti. Naan requires an oven I think but roti can be cooked on a pan. I had a guy in India show me how to make it back in 2002 and a refresher on you-tube has convinced me that with a little practice I should be able to pull this off. I just need to stop by the market some time soon and pick up flour and a non stick pan.

So aside from working on getting a more permanent visa in the near future, I am going to try and figure out how to get meat in this country and how to make flat bread. I have a distinct feeling hat the first attempts will be comical in both endeavors.

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