While currently travelling in Nepal, I have been hoping to find some new fermented concoction. I asked several people I’ve met and the word that seemed to keep coming up is “achaar,” which I think roughly translates to “pickle” but seems to have various applications While it seems like the Korean art of kimchee has travelled over to these parts, or vice versa, i was really hoping to find something new, something I hadn’t tried or seen before.
I’ve been trekking for a few days so far in the verdant village area in the hills outside of Pokhara, and today I am all smiles as I ran across two women who shared with me their delicious fermented goodies.
The first was a woman named Gunga who has the easiest laugh and a smile with a mouthful of teeth that lights up the nearby Himalayas. She built a fire in her kitchen to make some tea and when I queried about “achaar,” she shared with me her kimchi, which was quite sour with a nice kick of heat. Although language barriers prevented me from gettingthe exact recipe, I did ascertain that equal parts garlic, ginger and onion go into the making of it. She also uses tomato paste and something she buys in a store that she simply referred to as “kimchi sauce,” although when I pressed she was quick to clarify that it is not fish sauce. She makes kimchi in November of each year, so this batch I that I sampled was 10 months old which I’m sure added significantly to the sourness. She said it can last 2-3 years without problem (and without refrigeration).
After leaving her place I trekked up to the village of Astaam where my guide and I checked into a lovely place called the Mystique Hotel. At dinner, I shared with her some of the kimchi Gunga had given me and Radha the proprietor pulled out a jar of
what she referred to as “radish achaar.” I’m very excited as It adds a whole new twist to the veggie ferment game, that of partially drying the veggie prior to fermenting. I won’t say more yet as I want to get back to the states to flush out the recipe for myself before formally sharing here. I will say that it was delicious, however, and I’m eager to share it with you all.
The monsoon rains are pouring down right now outside here. When the skies clear, incredibly dramatic views of the Anapurna mountain range emerge. The people of this part of the world are wonderful people, very warm hearted and quick to share a laugh, and of course some of their traditionally crafted achaar. Stay tuned!