Highland food cultures meet in a confluence.

With many mala, nuns, monks, and devotees circumambulated the Boudha stupa. News of Kathmandu refers to them as Khasti Chaitya. Visitors stroll around the stupa, and the elderly sit on benches, watching the time pass. Women selling shapes or local produce are also ordinary. Boudha is fascinating, especially during the mornings and evenings.

Many people know that Boudha is different from the rest of the city in terms of energy and vibe. But they need to find out the quality of the local food scene. Many mountainous foods can be found here. To taste the authentic mountain cuisines, however, one must venture beyond the inner circle of gentrified restaurants within the stupa. Many of these cater to foreign tastes.

After passing a coffee shop chain, take the narrow entrance. This narrow passageway, which is dimly lit, will take you to several Sherpa restaurants. These restaurants offer more than your average momo or thukpa. You will hear heavy pounding sounds as you approach the small joints. This is how you will know that rildok has been prepared. Rildok, a delicious and simple soup made from boiled potatoes, is filled with dumplings. However, in some Sherpa communities, rildok is mashed potatoes served with curry.

The family-run Himalayan Sherpa food house, owned by Namkha, Dolma and Ang Tshering Sherpa, is one of the restaurants in the lane. The eatery was where I first tried rildok.

It is intimate and cozy with a homey feel. The place has only a handful of tables and the majority of customers are locals from the Solu and Khumbu areas.

Rildok can be prepared by boiling potatoes and peeling them. Then, pound them in a tsomgok–a large wooden mortar and pestle. Continue pounding until potatoes are a soft, sticky mass. This takes a lot of work. The potatoes used in this dish are typically sourced from Solu and Mude. Dolma didi said, while she pounded the boiled potatoes. This sticky mass can then be squeezed by hand into small dumplings. Then, the soup will be simmered with spring onion, garlic and chilies, turmeric powder, and salt, and finally, tossed in a pot of boiling water. They are light enough to float in the soup and melt in your mouth like butter.

Boudha is always a place I go to for a bowl of dildos. I sprinkle some alarming (sichuan) on top to add peppery-numbing flavor to the dish. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can ask for sashimi, a bitter-tasting flavoring ingredient made from the dregs fermented buttermilk (also known as serkam or dairy cream). Although it has strong flavour and smell, a small amount can transform the flavor of your entire dish. Fermentation can be a magical process.

potatoes were introduced to the mountainous area about 200 years ago. It has since become a Sherpa favorite. Many dishes include stews, curries, and mashed potato. You can also boil them and then eat with a paste of salt, chillies and peppers. Sherpas even make potato pancake. This dish is known as rikikur, and it is made with finely grated potatoes. riki is Sherpa for potato, and kur for roti. It’s served with butter from the female yak and a sauce made from the serkam. Namkha dai, a steel plate grater user, shared his childhood memories of making the rikikur. “In those early days, when there weren’t flat pans or graters, potatoes were grated on a rough stone surface and then cooked on a thick, flat stone slate,” Namkha dai said to me. Namkha dai shared his childhood memories of making rikikur. “Those rikikurs were exceptional and nothing can beat their taste.”

Solu Sherpa Khaja Khagar, located opposite Namkha’s restaurant serves Sherpa winter food called phalgi. This stew is made from sun-dried unripe corn, white beans, potato, and meat. It is also boiled and sun-dried to preserve sweetness and tenderness. For an extra kick, a small jar of oil-infused airmong ground is added to each table. Pemba Sherpa from the restaurant explains that oil preserves flavour and colour. It is enough to bring the phalgi alive with just a little bit of it. Airmong, which is a common spice in Sherpa cuisine (and packets of it sourced from Solu), can be found in the restaurant alongside serkam, dried serkam, nak butter and beans.

It is not uncommon to find monks or locals drinking sucha (butter-tea) in Boudha restaurants. You can also find high-country delights like tsampa (roasted barley flour), deep-fried pastry, chhurpi and tsiluk (preserved animals fats), and shahalep (meat-filled pastry). You can also find amdobhalep, thukpa, shyakpa (hand-pulled noodles soup), and momos.

Boudha’s streets are filled with it all. It is the Tibetan diaspora that made momo, thenthuk, and shyabhale such popular dishes in Kathmandu, in the 60s and 70s. Tibetans have been living in Nepal for generations and have introduced Tibetan dry noodles and laphing to the city’s youth. Laphing, a cold noodle dish, is from northern China where it’s called liangfen. The Tibetan dry noodles are a variation of Sichuan dan mian.

Boudha, which is located in a different part of Kathmandu, is an ancient heritage site and gastronomical microcosm. It is home to Tibetans. Tamang, Sherpa and other mountainous communities have made the valley their home.

Boudha has been home to many families from the upper Himalayan region for decades. This trend continues. Boudha’s diverse mountain communities have brought their culture, traditions, and this is evident in its environment and food scene.

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