A Russian food festival brings soup, bread and happiness to Kathmandu
- Russian cuisine is as varied and vast as the country, but at the Radisson Hotel, Kathmandu can sample a specially curated revolving menu
Apr 9, 2019-
Saturday was a foggy evening in Kathmandu. A light drizzle that had begun in the afternoon had settled by evening, but the sky was still overcast. People across social media were complaining of being challenged by the weather, and that a nice bowl of steamy jhol momo would’ve hit the spot.
But at the Waterfall Garden in Lazimpat’s Radisson Hotel, plates of steaming roasted duck breasts with orange sauce were keeping folks warm. Along with the duck, which had a citric, almost sour taste, there were special honey cakes, prepared on the spot by Russian chef Denis Perevoz.
While revelers feasted on Russian delicacies, up on stage, there were Russian folk dances and songs, a fire act performed by Marinka Belkina, and piano and violin performances, along with a Nepali folk dance, by students from Sushila Arts Academy. It was the inauguration of the Russian Food Festival, marking Russian Kitchen Day 2019. The fest is being organised by Radisson Hotel Kathmandu and Russian Centre of Science and Culture.
The Russian Food Festival, which will run until April 12, is being helmed by chef Perevoz, who currently serves as board member of the Russian Culinary Association and is a chef-consultant and co-owner of the HoReCa consulting company.
The festival has on its menu Russian delicacies like jellied pork ribs with Russian mustard; red caviar; a seafood plate that comprising of crab meat, fish fillets and fried shrimp, and okroshka, a traditional Russian soup. The food will definitely be unfamiliar to the Nepali palate, but the dishes are uniquely savoury and carry a distinct Russian flavour to them.
Perevoz, who’s been a chef for over two decades, loves to travel the world and sample different food cultures, and this is what has brought him to Nepal, he says. It feels good to see Nepalis sampling new tastes and enjoying them, says Perevoz, who’s here courtesy of the Russian Culture Centre and the Russian Embassy.
“Everywhere I go, there is something to learn, something to discover,” says Perevoz. “I have been in the profession for two decades, yet I am learning every day.”
Perevoz hadn’t yet tried Nepali dal bhat but was looking forward to it, having learned about it in college. “Wherever I go, traditional food is the best,” he said.
Like the country itself, Russian food is no monolith, says Perevoz. Russian food culture is vast and storied, with a history dating back over a thousand years.
“Because Russia is a big country, we can’t really generalise a certain food culture,” says 39-year-old Perevoz. “But there are certain cuisines that are served in every household and make up a significant part of Russian food culture.”
Russia is a cold country, so food that can be safely stored and served later are popular. A variety of hot soups and fermented meats and fish make up a large part of the Russian culinary tradition, says Perevoz.
Perevoz combines classic Russian cuisine with an innovative approach to food technology and modern ways of serving. He grew up watching his mother and grandmother make soups and breads, sparking his own passion in food.
“In Russia, there’s an old saying, ‘if you have soup and bread then you have happiness,’” says Perevoz.
Shchi, a vegetable soup, is popular across Russia because the ingredients that go into it can be cultivated everywhere around the country: carrot, cabbage, onion, cucumber, and potato.
Then, there’s a variety of locally fermented mushroom that Perevoz calls ‘salania’, which comes with tomatoes, apple, vinegar and different kinds of berries. “This too is one of the most important dishes in every Russian household,” says Perevoz.
Perevoz chose dishes for the festival as representative of Russian gastronomy, he says.
"The thing about gastronomy is that it is like space--it is always expanding,” says Perevoz. “I’ve been in the profession for 20 years and I am learning every day. Any dish can be great, you just have to care a great deal for the cooking.”
The menu for the Russian Food Festival changes every day, but every selection is done specially by chef Perevoz so visitors can expect an authentic Russian experience. Today’s menu features beef tenderloin with garlic scapes, red chicken with vegetable julienne, and stewed cabbage with thyme.
The Russian Food Festival will be on till April 12, at The Fun Café, Radisson Hotel, Lazimpat. The tickets are priced at Rs 1999 + taxes per person.
Published: 10-04-2019 07:00