Preserving the Authenticity of Nepali Cuisine: A Conversation with Binod Baral
"June 24,Nepal. Who is Binod Baral?rnrnNepali food has a rich culinary heritage, but it is not as well-known globally compared to other Asian cuisines like Indian, Chinese, Mexican, or Thai food. Many experts describe Nepali food as a mixture of North Indian and Tibetan cuisine. To discuss this issue, we caught up with Binod Baral, a London-based Nepali chef and food researcher, who has established his name as the Spice Pundit. Binod is the head of research and development in the Department of Innovation Kitchen at DO & CO International, an Austria-based multinational company known as the World's Best Gourmet Entertainment Group. DO & CO International manages airline catering, international event catering, and operates restaurants, lounges, and hotels. They cater to 77 airlines, served the FIFA World Cup 2022, and have been involved in many Formula One events. Here, we share a glimpse of the interview with Binod Baral.rnrnQ.  Thank you for sharing your insights, Binod.rnrnIt's clear that Nepali cuisine has a unique identity influenced by its geographical location, cultural diversity, and historical factors. You mentioned that one of the problems in the sector of Nepali food is the tendency to blend it with Indian or Tibetan cuisine instead of promoting its own distinct identity. Can you elaborate on this issue?rnrnA.Absolutely. In an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of neighboring cuisines like Indian and Tibetan, there is a risk of diluting the authentic Nepali culinary heritage. Instead of focusing on promoting Nepali cuisine as it is, some individuals or businesses try to merge it with other cuisines, which leads to a loss of identity. This is particularly noticeable outside of Nepal, especially in countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe.rnrn1.Do you think the quality of Nepali food is deteriorating or that it is losing its identity by merging with Indian or Tibetan cuisine?rnrnA.While there have been improvements in terms of marketing and raising awareness about Nepali cuisine, we need to be cautious. It is important to educate and train individuals in the right way to celebrate Nepalese cuisine globally. Our roots lie in using fresh, seasonal ingredients and employing simple cooking methods that have been passed down through generations. However, the transfer of cooking skills from traditional Nepali home kitchens to commercial kitchens is often lacking. Additionally, the use of excessive spices, particularly in vegetable dishes, is not a part of our culinary tradition. We must preserve our identity by conducting research and development to understand the science behind our traditional cooking methods and ingredients. For example, there are reasons behind a mother sputtering mustard seeds in pumpkin curry or using nutmeg heavily in Kwati (a soup made from sprouted beans). These practices are related to weather, seasons, and health benefits.rnrnrnrnQ.How can Nepali food be effectively promoted?rnrnA.One effective approach is to find similar dishes in well-known cuisines around the world and promote those specific Nepali dishes. For example, we can draw parallels between Malaysian Satay and Nepali Sekuwa, or American Donuts and Nepali Selroti, which is also gluten-free. We have our own versions of popular dishes like Chinese dumplings (Momo) and Indian Dosa (Chatamari). Additionally, we can showcase Newari Bhatti Pasal, a nose-to-tail delicacy, similar to Spanish Tapas. It's crucial to involve all stakeholders, from farmers to consumers, and media can play a significant role in promoting Nepali food.rnrnrnQ.what are your plans for Nepali food?rnrnA.My main focus is on the globalization of Nepal's culinary heritage. I aim to list Newari Cuisine, which is cherished by the Newar community living in the Kathmandu Valley, as an intangible cultural heritage with UNESCO. By doing so, we can raise awareness and preserve the authenticity of Nepali cuisine on a global scale.rnrnrnrnQ.Finally, what is your personal favorite Nepali dish?rnrnA.I have a fondness for simple food, especially my mother's cooking. It's like searching for a loved one rather than just a dish. I particularly enjoy ingredients like mustard oil, Timur (a type of Sichuan pepper), Methi seeds (fenugreek), and jimbu (a dried herb Himalayan region , I called Himalaya chives). Cooking with fewer spices allows the true flavors of the main ingredients to shine through. Sometimes, even small things like Poleko Khursani (open fire roasted dry red chili) can enhance a classic Nepali meal.rnrnrnrnQ.Do foreigner love Nepal foods ?rnrnA.They love Nepali food if they eat Jhol Momo once even Daal Bhat, they always talk about that. When I says Nepali straight they talk about momo, daal bhat and they said what we do different like our thukpa and chowmein as different than rest of the world and addicted they said because we use local spices.rnrnrnrnQ.what food you want to promote and why and what is the current most preferred food for foreigners ?rnrnA.Most of the people talk about momo, daal bhat,sel roti, noodles . I love to promote momo because if easy to eat, cute, tasty and can be served various way, stuffing can be anything from meet to chocolate.rnrnrnrn "

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