Himalayan Cuisine in La Mesa adds some spice to life

0
73
WEBHimylaian.jpg

A little more than ten years ago, Khem Kharel opened a small Italian and Indian eatery in the strip mall at the corner of El Cajon Boulevard and Baltimore Drive. The place was always chockfull of diners lured in by the delicious aromas. 

The people especially raved about the Nepalese menu items. As a result, Kharel, who is a native of Kathmandu, Nepal, decided to concentrate on Himalayan cuisine. In January 2012, he officially opened Himalayan Cuisine, expanding the restaurant space to 5,885 square feet.

A little more than ten years ago, Khem Kharel opened a small Italian and Indian eatery in the strip mall at the corner of El Cajon Boulevard and Baltimore Drive. The place was always chockfull of diners lured in by the delicious aromas. 

The people especially raved about the Nepalese menu items. As a result, Kharel, who is a native of Kathmandu, Nepal, decided to concentrate on Himalayan cuisine. In January 2012, he officially opened Himalayan Cuisine, expanding the restaurant space to 5,885 square feet.

“All our interior decoration represent Nepal. All the ceiling tiles are printed with a shree yentra mandala, which is a symbol of wealth. Those tiles we built here,” Kharel said.

A continuous video of the Indian and Nepalese people and culture quietly plays on one of the large walls.

And the people keep coming to the Himalayan, as they call it. They feel good after they eat there. 

“I could eat this food every day. I love their lentil soup,” said Tara Covington, a La Mesa resident.

Each entrée item is accompanied by a complimentary cup of the Himalayan Daal soup, a blend of lentils and Himalayan spices and herbs.

The secret is in the spices that the Himalayan uses. The list is impressive: Asafoetida (also known as hing, an herb cultivated mainly in India), black salt, cardamom, cassia bark, clove, coriander, fenugreek, ginger, garlic, nutmeg, mace, mustard seed, saffron and turmeric. 

“Those spices have healing qualities,” said Kharel, who had moved from Nepal in 1989 to study in the United States.

“Black salt is good for helping with stomach ache, and so is hing. Turmeric is good for healing many things, like arthritis,” he said.

When people order their entrees, the server, dressed in traditional Nepalese garb, asks the diners how spicy they would like their food, on a scale of one to ten. Most people ask for level three or four. Any hotter than six or seven, the delicate blend of tastes can be overwhelmed by tongue burn.

Two of the most popular menu items, which feature northern Nepalese cuisine, include Chicken Tikka Masala and Malai Kofta. The former dish is made with chicken tikka, which is chunks of boneless chicken breast marinated in spices and yogurt, then baked in a tandoor oven and served in a masala, a spicy fragrant sauce. Malai Kofta is prepared with cheese, potatoes, nuts and spices combined together to make dumpling balls (kofta). It is then cooked with a special cream sauce with tomatoes, onion paste, herbs and spices.

“Our dishes have unique flavor, are healthy and mild in spice. We prepare our food from scratch every day, not like other restaurants making food to last a week. Our food takes a long time to make, but it’s fresh,” Kharel said.

The Himalayan offers traditional yogurt drinks as well, such as the Mango Yogurt Lassi. “That’s our most popular,” said Debindra Ghimire, one of the servers. 

After a meal, at the front counter diners can help themselves to a teaspoonful of candy-coated fennel seeds, known for aiding digestion.

The fennel seeds and all of these spices used in Himalayan cooking are available for purchase next door at the Himalayan Market, which Kharel opened in 2012. The market offers other food items, including fresh produce and canned goods. Additionally, there are all kinds of gift items from Nepal and India, such as bells, fabrics, jewelry and even cookbooks.  

“Both businesses are doing great,” said Kharel of the restaurant and market. His wife, a nephew and niece help him in the restaurant and market along with other employees.

Himalayan Cuisine, at 7918 El Cajon Boulevard, Suite #P, offers daily lunch specials from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, go to www.himalayancuisineone.com.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here