It was a long time ago but I remember every moment of this journey in my heart. Sometimes I can even feel the happiness that I felt, as I soaked in the sunlight of Nepal. Tugga was just two and half year old and an angel. He ate whatever we gave him, slept whenever was told to, wore whatever I put on him, without a fuss and sat down quietly, on the boat ride at Pokhara. Well, that was perhaps the last time that he listened to every thing that Mumma and Baba asked him to!! It was during that trip that we fell in love with Nepali food. Perhaps, it was more to do with mustard being the medium of cooking, which immediately switches on the comfort factor in our brains. Being a Bengali, we love anything cooked in mustard oil. And other than home cooked food made by Aunty (Komal’s mom), the one other place where we enjoyed eating was Bajeko Sekuwa, which roughly translates to ‘grandfather’s barbeque’. At that time, this was a popular hangout, especially with younger and a more casual crowd. The meats that we ate was slightly charred and packed with flavour. It was hot and sour, sweet and salty; all punched together. Till date, I haven’t forgotten the taste of the various sekuwas that we ate there. On inquiry, Komal told me that Bajeko Sekuwa had closed down now.
Its Sadeko all the way
It was at Bajeko Sekuwa and many other places, that we had our tryst with sadeko. Now, in Nepali, Sadeko means to marinate. So, anything and everything when marinated with some herbs and spices becomes a sadeko. Hence, we ate Wai Wai Sadeko, dry buffalo meat sadeko, aloo sadeko, peanut sadeko, chicken sadeko and more. You could do a sadeko of just about anything. A bowl of the main ingredient dressed with chopped onions, tomatoes, green chilies, coriander leaves and then bound together with a drizzle of mustard oil; it was epic. So humble, yet so sensational. You have got to eat it to believe.
One beautiful sunny afternoon, as Anindya and I walked down the stretch of road by Phewa Lake, with Tugga prancing around the both of us, we stepped into this quaint little cafe by the lake for a quick grub before our boat ride. The little monkey was famished by the time we reached the cafe and the only thing that could come quickly, was a sadeko. We ordered a plate of chicken sadeko. A plate filled with bite sized grilled chicken, bathed in a zesty marinade, was so finger licking good that the three of us literally had a war of the forks while trying to get the most of the salad. I wondered, what it was that made a grilled chicken salad so appealing. It was actually the finishing off of the salad with a drizzle of fenugreek flavoured mustard oil that made the magic. That was chicken sadeko!
In so many years, the memory of that chicken sadeko faded away. Blue Poppy Thakali opened and we had chicken choila. Many requests could not make Doma di divulge the secret of the chicken choila other than a vague description. But that meal brought back memories of Nepal and the chicken sadeko that we ate.
I did not wait long but in the next opportune moment, made chicken sadeko from whatever was my understanding of the recipe and my long lost memory. I hope I have not offended any Nepali in the process but this is Nepali chicken sadeko my way.