What’s cooking?

  • Among the myriad of fancy eateries out in the city, M&S handpicks those where the owners themselves are in charge of their kitchens
- Gaurav Pote
What’s cooking?

May 14, 2015-

Archana Tamang

Café Aamu, Krishnagalli

Starting out

I have loved cooking since my childhood. I find immense pleasure in cooking for my family and close pals—it has never been a burden to me. Opening Café Aamu, seven months back, was a spontaneous move. It was like extending my private kitchen at home, because I felt an urge to cook for and feed a larger number of people, whom I consider part our larger “aamu” family.

Why cook yourself?

I have a knack of creating scrumptious meals for others, like artists who create beautiful artworks. It’s therapeutic for me, and I get to pour all my love into the meals I prepare. The people that come here to eat come with their big hearts, love and appreciation for the good food. Everything about cooking creates a nice family-like atmosphere where I can see everyone happy and enjoying themselves to the fullest—something that I truly treasure.

Motivation behind your business?

It’s just good food and some nice company. The idea of owning a place where family and friends can come to enjoy the food and share a few words makes it less like a business and more of a lifestyle. It’s a great feeling to serve a larger mass, particularly when new people arrive and immediately mingle in our casual family setting.

On running a kitchen vs. running a restaurant?

There isn’t much difference, actually. I prepare the same food that I used to prepare for my family and friends before this. I pay equal attention to taste, quality and hygiene. I never compromise on the quality of my supplies. I don’t personally take care of our accounts but, thankfully, I’ve been told that we’ve had a good quarter. Moreover, I’m responsible for my team. People who work here are not hospitality trained; they put all their effort but I find myself worried sometimes. There are customers who are used to higher standards of hospitality and sometimes, that may not be matched. It’s not a high-profile restaurant but I do respect the dignity of labor.

You'll find...

#  A refined assortment of vegetarian and non-vegetarian fares.

# Casual, live music every evening.

#  Very homely ambience.

Try this: Spicy Red Pork, Cream Pasta with Black Mushroom.

Quick Bites

Your comfort food: Popcorn

Wildest dish you've encountered: Deep-fried caterpillar in south-east Asia

If you could prepare one last meal: Spicy red pork for you (laughs)

One ingredient that you can't cook without: Love

Culinary hero(s): My daughter Prakriti and son-in-law Chef Viraf Patel

Julie James

Mama’s Curries, Pulchowk

Starting out

My husband Kim and I ran a school for nearly three decades. When we retired, we decided to follow up on what had always been my dream—to start my own restaurant. The passion and skill were always there passed down through generations in our family.

Why cook yourself?

If I hire someone else to cook for me, I’ll end up losing the essence of this place and the flavour of my food. These are our old family recipes that have taken years to perfect. When I work in the kitchen I can also ensure the quality and freshness of the food, and I never compromise with what I use.

Motivation behind your business?

Because I’ve always wanted to run my own restaurant, I am happy to cook here. When you’re happy, everything you cook becomes tastier. It keeps my customers happy and keeps them coming back with more friends a couple of times a week. The menu we have is minimal and it’s what we have always been cooking at home. So that sets us apart from the tough competition in Jhamsikhel. So far, we have been sustaining and that is good enough for me.

On running a kitchen vs. running a restaurant?

Running a kitchen at home is obviously easier than running a restaurant. It is less tiring a lot less daunting. With a restaurant kitchen, there are no shortcuts with quality and taste. Everything needs to be kept clean, fresh and hygienic. However, at the end of the day, it is equally enjoyable when people compliment the place and my food; it makes me really happy.

You'll find...

# 100 percent halal food.

# Serves one of the most refined family recipes.

Try this: Coconut Prawn Curry, Chicken Shahi Korma.

Quick Bites

Your comfort food: Dal-bhat

Wildest dish you’ve encountered: Calcutta’s cuisine

If you could prepare one last meal: Rice pudding

One ingredient that you can’t cook without: Onions

Culinary hero(s): My mother

Hannah Kurian

Hannah’s Café, Jhamsikhel

Starting out

Upon arriving in Nepal, I could not find the kind food to match my Filipino palate.  So I started cooking my favourites at home despite my lack of culinary skills and experience. It was after I got better at it and my family and friends began appreciating my cooking, I contemplated about running my very own cafe serving Filipino food. It took a few years of planning but we were finally able to set things up, and it’s already been two years now.

Why cook yourself?

Firstly, it gives me confidence that I’m able to serve tasty meals, although I haven’t had any formal training. It’s indeed delightful to see people enjoy my meal and be appreciated. They value my effort and keep coming for more. Secondly, I need to serve food with consistent freshness and homey taste.

Motivation behind your business?

At the beginning, it was the outcome of my work—the way people got excited when they saw their food being served, the way they enjoyed their meals with curiosity and their kind words. It made me happy. As we grew, we hired some help who were mostly young, struggling people. Then, eventually, it also became more about empowering these kids and helping them support themselves. It’s been a great experience so far.

On running a kitchen vs. running a restaurant?

It’s not easy because you are suddenly responsible for so many things. Hygiene and the tidiness of the place for the sake of your customers’ health is extremely important. You also have to keep a close eye on your books. Although making money is not our priority, it keeps the cafe running. My only regret is that I cannot formally call myself a chef.

You'll find...

#  Scrumptious Filipino brunch.

#  Homey taste and large portions.

Try this: Fresh Waffles, Big Breakfast and Loaded Sandwiches.

Quick Bites

Your comfort food: Dark chocolate

Wildest dish you’ve encountered: Balut, a developing egg, boiled and seasoned

If you could prepare one last meal: Lasagna

One ingredient that you can’t cook without: Garlic

Culinary hero(s): Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver

Mangal Maharjan

Oh! My Chicken, Mangal Bazar

Starting out

Several things prompted me to open Oh! My Chicken. I used to fancy the restaurant meals so much that I’d ask around, get the right ingredients from the department stores and try to replicate them at home. It was one part indulgence and one part break from the regular dal-bhat staple. As well as that, I loving hosting a lot of friends and having paying-guests from abroad at home. My sons have even setup their music studio on the ground floor because of that. So, I just thought of opening a small cafe to cater to them and to keep my sons and myself busy.

Why cook yourself?

I cook for my own pleasure. For me, it is almost an art, and I believe everyone has a definite way of cooking that imparts a distinct flavour in whatever they cook besides the natural flavour. I try new things, and it’s rewarding when they turn out delicious.

Motivation behind your business?

It satisfies me to know that people actually like my cooking. Although I am not trained, I follow my instincts. It has worked out quite well so far. My friends compliment my recipes and it’s good to have them come here and enjoy the food. We have regular live music and a few drinks and share our fried-chicken and keema egg-rolls. Nothing beats the satisfaction that I receive from all that.

On running a kitchen vs. running a restaurant?

I think we are still learning the ropes of the restaurant business. A lot of it is hard work and a clean kitchen. Quality and affordability are equally important. Ensuring all that and keeping up with the competition is tough but all of this makes me happy. But it couldn’t have been possible without the team effort from everyone here and the trust of our customers.

You'll find...

# Crispy fried-chicken served with fries.

# Live music upon request for larger groups.

Try this: OMC Fried Chicken with fries.

Quick Bites

Your comfort food: Dal-bhat at home

Wildest dish you’ve encountered: Japanese seafood

If you could prepare one last meal: Haku Choila or some quick appetizer

One ingredient that you can’t cook without: Salt and white pepper

Culinary hero(s): My wife

Tasneem Shahani

Tasneem’s King Kitchen, Pulchowk

Starting out:

I have always enjoyed cooking for my family and friends. They’ve always appreciated my food, and for many years some of them even insisted that I open up my own eatery. So after that, I started a take-away service from home. Back then, I initiated the plan with just five things on my menu. Eleven years and 32 items later, now, I have formally set up a restaurant of my own with the help of my dear husband.

Why cook yourself?

One of the reasons is that I have a desire to experiment with different ingredients and create new tastes.  There are endless possibilities when it comes to cooking and preparing food. I find it to be very liberating to be able to do that  on a regular basis unlike a stereotypical desk-job. Plus, it pleases me to feed people and see their faces light up.

Motivation behind your business?

It’s a long but fun process. You have to source the best supplies, you have to  handpick condiments, you have to manage the kitchen and you have to cook and serve fresh meals to the guests. But one of the other  things that really keeps me going every day is the satisfaction that I get when my customers appreciate my food and they turn into regular, frequently visiting customers.

On running a kitchen vs. running a restaurant?

Previously, when I operated from home, money had not been a real issue. But now that I have a restaurant, it has become a more significant part of what

I do. It is actually my husband who helps me with the accounts so that I can

focus on my kitchen and what goes on there. I feel there is still a lot to do. We need to maintain everything from the hygiene to the quality of food to customer satisfaction. It is a serious responsibility but the family support makes it easier for me.

You'll find...

#  100 percent halal food.

#  Authentic Indian flavour.

#  Meals can be purchased in kilos for offices or events.

Try this: Different assortment of biryanis.

Quick Bites

Your comfort food: Butter Chicken

Wildest dish you’ve encountered: Squid-salad

If you could prepare one last meal: Butter Chicken

One ingredient that you can’t cook without: Onions and ginger-garlic paste

Culinary hero(s): Gordon Ramsay and Nigella Lawson


Published: 15-05-2015 17:06

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