Nepal Food Recipe (2)- Chef Shree Ram’s Famous Farm Thali

Our latest Nepal Food Recipe is Chef Shree Ram’s Famous Farm Thali and from the dreamy hill village of Nuwakot.

Beneath the mighty peaks of the Langtang Himalaya, the unspoilt, traditional village of Nuwakot can be found.

It’s a wonderful place to escape to, delightfully off the beaten track and where you can readily immerse yourself into real Nepalese hill village life.

In ‘down town’ Nuwakot there’s an old Royal Palace, as well as a fort, and an ornate Hindu temple next door to a old former Rana building. 

Perched high above the Trisuli River Valley, Nuwakot is rather more scattered randomly along the hillside. Carefully sculpted terraced fields, tiny (often mud brick) homes and farmsteads  can be found and Nuwakot is that sort of place where nothing seems to be happening, but everything is going on at the same time.

Nuwakot is also home to the Famous Farm Country Inn a delightful boutique heritage hotel that oozes charm and traditional elegance. The Famous Farm is a lovingly restored former Newari mansion, with tastefully preserved Newari architectural features. Colourful gardens afford wonderful views across the Trisuli River Valley where you can easily find your own secret place to relax and soak up the sunshine.

For that “farm authenticity”, goats, chickens and the like wander around freely and there’s also a vegetable garden to afford a “field to plate” authenticity for the al fresco dining experience here.

And it’s from The Famous Farm at Nuwakot that today’s “mega-dish” Nepal food recipe comes from.

Chef Shree Rams Famous Farm Thali

Shree Rams signature Thali, which he and his team have perfected over many years, is actually a number of individual spicy delights, as essentially that’s what a Thali is, an assortment of foods all served together. A “platter” in essence.

So, Shree Rams Famous Farm Thali is just the ticket if you have friends over for dinner and want to impress them with your Nepali cooking skills and to prepare all the dishes to serve as a Thali does take time too.

Then again, there’s no law to say you can’t cook just one or two of the dishes that go to make up this Thali either for other times too.

Shree Rams Famous Farm Thali consists of the following dishes:

Chicken curry – lentil soup – spiced spinach -pumpkin curry – mixed vegetable curry – fried papad – sweet mango pickle – rice

Chef Shree Ram’s Famous Farm Thali

Preparing to make The Famous Farm Thali

At a first glance, the thought of making a Thali (especially if you have guests) can appear quite a daunting task.

Sure, you are going to have to make and serve 9 individual dishes!

But, you can make things far less stressful than it needs to be, by advanced preparation. Both in terms of the ingredients that you will need and that most of the dishes can be made in advance of serving and in fact reheated just prior to serving.

Preparation is key.

If you’re going for the “Full Monty” and intending to prepare the full collection of Shree Ram’s dishes that constitute The Famous Farm Thali, you really should do as much “mise-en-place” as you can first.

Namely, make the Famous Farm Spice Mix (below) in advance first.

Famous Farm Spice Mix

This flavoursome combination of spices is used in a few of the individual dishes that make up the Thali and is best prepared in advance. It can of course be used to flavour curries that you create yourself too.

Ingredients

100g cumin seeds

100g coriander seeds

25g cloves

10g sichuan pepper

25g cinnamon

25g cardamom

1 nutmeg

Method

Combine and mix all the spice ingredients together and either:

  1. Leave them in full sunlight for a day
  2. “Dry roast” in a frying pan over a medium heat for a few minutes, being careful not to burn the spices. A good indicator that it’s time to take the spice combination off the heat is when the coriander seeds begin to pop.

Grind all the spices, preferably using a pestle and mortar, into a fine powder and store in an air tight container. A glass jar is best.

You’ll also need some garlic and ginger paste for several of the dishes and again this can be made in advance by simply blitzing some chopped garlic and ginger (a 50:50 ratio) together in a blender, or with a pestle and mortar.

You may also notice that other ingredients feature in several of the individual dishes too. So, it makes good sense to prepare these “en masse” before you start cooking too.

Right, so you’ve got everything ready for your Thali….let’s get cracking.

Lentil Soup

Preparation time: 5 minutes approx. 

Cooking time: 20 minutes approx.

Serves: 4 persons

Ingredients

200g black lentils (Puy lentils will work great for example)

500ml water

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

10ml mustard oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tea spoons garlic & ginger paste

10g finely chopped garlic

10g finely chopped onion

2 teaspoons Ghee

1/2 teaspoon Famous Farm Spice Mix

5g of finely chopped fresh coriander 

Method

Wash/soak the lentils as appropriate to type. Check the packaging for advice. Then add to a pan.

Add the water, salt, turmeric powder, Famous Farm Spice Mix, mustard oil & garlic.

Bring to the boil and then simmer on a medium heat for approx 20 mins, or until the lentils are cooked and no longer hard.

In a frying pan heat the ghee until it begins to smoke (this enhances the flavour), then reduce the heat and add the chopped onions and garlic/ginger paste until a golden brown colour is achieved.

Then add the contents of the frying pan into the cooked soup and stir in well.

Add the finely chopped coriander into the soup mix just before serving and stir in well.

Adding fresh coriander just before serving is a feature of several dishes in Chef Shree Ram’s Famous Farm Thali

Vegetable Curry

Preparation time: 10 minutes approx.

Cooking time: 20 minutes approx.

Serves: 4 persons

400g mixed vegetables (at the Famous Farm Chef Shree Ram uses a mix of cauliflower, carrot and green beans)

4 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

2 teaspoon sunflower (or other vegetable) oil

3g fenugreek seeds

30g finely chopped onion

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon salt

15g chopped tomatoes (use fresh not tinned)

1 teaspoon garlic & ginger paste

1 teaspoon Famous Farm Spice Mix

200ml water

10g finely chopped fresh coriander

Method

Heat the oil in a wok (or frying pan) and add the fenugreek seeds until they become a dark brown colour. Be careful not to burn them.

Add the onion and cook until golden brown.

Add the sliced potatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes

Add the mixed vegetables, salt and turmeric powder and stir to mix them together.

Cover and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.

Remove the cover and cook for a further 5 minutes, continuously stirring whilst cooking.

Now add the tomatoes, garlic & ginger paste, Famous Farm Spice Mix and water.

Cover and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Add the fresh coriander just before serving stirring in well first.

Use the best “in season” vegetables you can. Here’s Chef Shree Rams selection grown in the vegetable garden at the Famous Farm, Nuwakot

Spiced Spinach

Preparation time: 5 minutes approx. 

Cooking time: 10-15 minutes approx.

Serves: 4 persons

Ingredients

2 teaspoon ghee

200g fresh green spinach (washed & chopped)

5g cumin seeds

2 whole dried red chillies

5g chopped garlic

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Heat the ghee in a Wok on a medium heat.

Add the cumin seeds, chilli and garlic until brown.

Add the chopped spinach and salt, mix well and cook for around 8-10 mins until the spinach has fully wilted

Chef Shree Ram (in yellow shirt) and his team at work in the Famous Farm kitchen

Pumpkin Curry

Preparation time: 5 – 10 minutes approx. 

Cooking time: 10 minutes* approx.

Serves: 4 persons

*Note- Chef Shree Ram would use a pressure cooker to cook this dish. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, don’t worry. You can simply cook the dish in a pan and boil until the pumpkin is fully cooked (i.e. soft). A little extra water may be required.

Ingredients

2 teaspoon sunflower oil

3g fenugreek seeds

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic & ginger paste

1/2 teaspoon Famous Farm Spice Mix

200g finely chopped pumpkin (Butternut Squash also works well)

100ml water*

Method

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the fenugreek seed and fry on a medium heat to a dark brown colour.

Add the pumpkin, salt, garlic & ginger paste and Famous Farm Spice Mix.

Fry for a further 2 minutes whilst stirring continuously.

Add water and add the pressure cooker lid and cook for a further 10 minutes. *If you’re not using a pressure cooker, put the lid on the pan and simmer cook until the pumpkin is soft, adding a little extra water if necessary. You may need to remove the lid at the end and raise the heat the pan to cook off any excess liquid.

Chef Shree Ram serves his signature Famous Farm Thali every evening and guests can enjoy dining “al fresco”

Chicken Curry

Preparation time: 10 minutes approx.

Cooking time: 15 – 20 minutes approx.

Serves: 4 persons

Ingredients

800g boneless chicken thighs

2 teaspoon sunflower oil

5g fenugreek seeds

300g chopped onions

4 cinnamon sticks

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

 1 & 1/2 teaspoon salt

200g chopped fresh tomatoes (not tinned)

2 teaspoons garlic & ginger paste

1 teaspoon Famous Farm Spice Mix

300ml water

150g chopped, fresh coriander

Method

Heat the sunflower oil in a wok, then add the fenugreek seeds and fry until dark brown.

Add the onion and cinnamon sticks and continue to fry (stirring well) until the onion is a golden brown colour.

Add the chicken and turmeric powder, mix together well  and then cover.

Cook until the moisture in the chicken has completely evaporated and the chicken becomes brown.

Add the salt, garlic & ginger paste, Famous Farm Spice Mix and stir whilst cooking.

Add water, cover and cook until the chicken is cooked soft.

Remove the lid and increase the heat to cook off any excess water and until a desired curry consistency is reached.

Add fresh coriander and mix in well just prior to serving.

Serve each dish of your Thali in individual bowls, centred around a nest of rice

Papad (Poppadoms)

OK, you might want to use pre-cooked supermarket “poppadoms” for ease and simplicity. But, a home fried papad is always going to be more flavoursome and you should be able to source “raw papads” from an Asian supermarket and most certainly online!

So, for the sake of authenticity…

Preparation time: negligible

Cooking time: 5-10 minutes approx.

Serves: 4 persons

Ingredients

4 Papads

100ml sunflower oil

Method

Cut each papad into 4.

Heat the oil in a wok until almost at smoking point

Deep fry each piece of papad separately until “puffed out” and a light golden colour. Be careful not to over cook and burn them.

You can’t beat a home fried papad

Sweet Mango Pickle

This is nothing like the mango pickle you get in a supermarket, so it’s worth making your own.

You can of course make the pickle in advance and make more if you want to use it to go with any other Asian style dishes you enjoy.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes approx.

Cooking Time: 15 minutes approx.

Serves: 4 persons

Ingredients

40g dried mango (most health food shops and some supermarkets stock dried mango. It’s also readily available online) – At The Famous Farm Chef Shree Ram uses fresh mango, which is then dried out in full sun for 2-3 days

100g unsalted butter

40ml olive oil

200g sugar

100ml water

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

Method

Cut the dried mango into slices (if not already sliced pieces)

Heat the oil, butter, sugar and water together in a wok. Add the dried mango and keep mixing until it melts.

Add the salt, chilli powder and cinnamon powder and keep cooking and stirring occasionally until a syrupy, loose consistency is achieved.

Remove from heat and allow to fully cool before serving.

Dried mango is readily available from most healthy eating shops and online

Rice

Preparation time: 2 minutes approx. 

Cooking time: 10-15 minutes approx.

Serves: 4 persons

Ingredients

500g Basmati Rice

600ml water

Wash the rice before cooking by adding to a sieve and passing cold, running water through it until the water runs clear.

Then drain.

Put the water and rice into a pan. and cover. Bring to the boil, then simmer until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is soft and fluffy.

You can of course boil your rice in a pan, but a rice cooker (and it doesn’t need to be an expensive one) cooks rice beautifully and needs minimal supervision

So, there you go that Chef Shree Ram’s Famous Farm Thali.

We hope you enjoy making this for yourself and your friends and that you all enjoy eating it even more!

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