The eight episode of Glocal Khabar Presents Youth Dialogue ended with another interesting theme and that was Food. The discussion was made on the topic- “Emerging Food Culture and Food Diversity in Nepal”. The three influential guests were invited to join the talk series and they were Ms. Goldi Shrestha (Founder at Meals in Wheels), Ms. Subekshya Hada (Co-founder at Sinka Mo: Mo’s) and Mr. Prajwal Dahal, the founder of Ageno, The Hestia located on Bhanimandal, Ekantakuna. The discussion was made about the emerging food culture of Nepal, Food diversity approach, food experimenting status and also about how can good food contribute towards development of Tourism Industry as well. The dialogue was moderated by Ms. Saru Pyakurel and here are some of the highlights of the discussions.
- Nowadays food culture is in trend. We can see many different restaurants, food corners coming up. Food Vlogs are also popular these days. Many different restaurants opened with variety of different cuisines. How do you see the development trend of Nepali cuisines in context of our country? What is the scenario?
Ms. Goldi is the founder of Meals on Wheels and she replied that seeing the trend of food culture, the spicy and cheesy food are quiet popular nowadays in the context of our country. She also said that even in regular food stuffs, these things are combined to create a different menu which brings variation in Nepalese Food.
Ms. Subekshya, highlighted both the global and local scenario where she found that food innovation is in high development pace and it’s rising every time. She gave an example of McDonald’s, Pizza, Paneer Tikka etc. which are popular worldwide. She also said that the food innovation is quiet good in the context of our country. Her initiation as Sinka Mo: Mo’s is also based on food innovation practice. She added food Vlogs can be the good way to develop food habits in people because, if one food by Food Vloggers gets popular, it gets demand on market too. Therefore, general people can choose food according to their taste palates.
Mr. Prajwal recalled the time when he established the Ageno at first. The word “Ageno” itself signifies it’s the place to get food with Nepali Taste. But then he realized, when the customers were family, due to variation in age group, their interests also varied. Nepali flavored food were always an adult’s choice but the younger ones still searched drum sticks, burger and many more. Then, to meet up with the needs of every individual customers, he changed it to make a multiple cuisine restaurant. He added not just the food trend, but the way of selecting food and eating is also developing in the context of our country. He gave information that nowadays there are 4 course menu, 3 course menu,2 course menu and so on which can be arranged as soup, appetizers, snacks, main menu and finally desert. So he added, people now are aware about the ways of eating food with proper selection. He then highlighted the context of bakery shops in Nepal which is developing.
- We can see the development in trend of food market. If we compare the scenario, we can see the Thai, Korean, Chinese cuisine etc. has lots of varieties of food and nowadays the Nepali cuisine has also adopted the trend and multiple Nepali cuisines are developing. How do you take it? How can market and people adopt this? Has Nepali cuisine been able to make its prominent place in the world market?
Mr. Prajwal said the Nepali cuisines has more masala and are spicy in comparable to other cuisines. If we scientifically observe what we add, it is quite interesting. The ingredients that we add suits our taste palates but it differs with other kinds of food. He added if we go to Tibet, Garam Masala is in trending phase and the food with Garam Masala are 5 times more or less expensive. The people try to bring Nepali taste on their food but it is not always successful. He also explained that if some food gets its market in world, it should have customers who are willing to have them. For e.g. South Indian Food are eaten by few here in our country. But those people who has the taste of these food love to eat it again. In this way, any food can get the market. He also said that there are lots of people who go abroad to work, to study. So, these people if finds the restaurant like in Nepal, they love it and enjoy Nepali food. Therefore, scientific food promotion is necessary. He added we should be able to say what each ingredients mean and how important it is for our health.
Ms. Subekshya agreed to the words of Mr. Prajwal. She said Nepali cuisines are in development phase and she compared to the time when there were countable place to find Newari cuisines like Patan, Kirtipur etc. Likewise Thakali food were only found in some places. But now these food are available almost everywhere and talking about world market, she said the brand like Bajeko Sekuwa, Himalayan Java etc. is already popular in world market. She added it makes her happy when her friends from different parts of world, put food vlogs from Nepali Restaurant opened in those countries. These kind of promotions are necessary.
Ms. Goldi added Nepali cuisines and the Masala somewhat resembles to the Indian cuisines. And the establishment of Nepali and Indian restaurant in abroad can promote our food and it can make people know what kinds of ingredients we use. She also recalled she saw one reaction video where Nepali Khana was also tasted and was rated positively. So, these are all necessary and at the end food promotion plays a vital role.
- We have seen lots of home-made deliveries being done, which main aim is to share the taste of the home to the foodie person. How do you take this initiation?
Ms. Goldi Shrestha related her work Meals on Wheels upon this question. Because, before her initiation was delivery of food, it was initially a homemade business. She said she started to work since her bachelors study. She said she used to deliver food to the customer and that gave a good response. She said; to the students who are in hostel, momo’s, chowmin are the common food and they get fed up of eating same food again and again. But the food that Meals on Wheels delivered was more like homemade food with the relevant taste and they got a comment like the food are nostalgic. That kinds of review gave them motivation and they started to work to create home-made taste in every dishes they deliver. They were able to promote homemade cuisines to the next level. She added nowadays homemade food are being promoted by many companies and its scope is a lot better and it does encourage the house wives involved in this business.
Ms. Subekshya highlighted two different perspective. On one hand there is food wise perspective. And on the other development of food culture locally. She said a house wife can cook good food and serve their family. But if the same art of cooking can be used to meet with food demands of the customer, then this becomes a really good business with good earnings with a same effort. So, this way, it can help to empower women and make them self-dependent.
Ms. Prajwal agreed that empowering women with this way can be done and it’s obvious. People go to restaurant to try different taste of food and Nepali food has amazing taste. All the cuisines has different taste and mixing of flavors makes our food great. And if we can identify potential housewife who can cook really well, then they can generate income even by sitting on their home.
- Food experimenting is popular among youth these days. What do you have to say about this?
Mr. Prajwal said that it excites him when someone comes to his Ageno for Food vlogs and experimenting food. This way he can get the response and comments that will eventually improve their way of work. He also added feedback forms to fill at the end also helps to gather comments and compliments regarding dishes and they change as per the taste of people. He believed that third party evaluation had supported him a lot in his business. He also added after food vlogs is seen by public, the demand is high and food experimenting contributes a lot in his business. Use of social sites makes food promotions and experimentation a lot easier. He even highlighted few foods which are trending after experimentation like Katiya, Choyla Mo: Mo, Cheese Mo: Mo, etc. and he said it is loved by people.
Ms. Subekshya also agreed to the word of Mr. Prajwal that social media has helped a lot for food promotions and food experimentation. She highlighted the importance of food experimentation by giving an example of general Mo: Mo. She said it came from Tibet and is so popular in Nepal. But at initial it was also experimented by someone. Therefore, there is no surety which food gets popular, which experiment gets appreciated. But one must try bringing variation even if it’s risky.
Ms. Goldi said that food experimenting and research should go in hand on hand. The food developer needs to bring variation in menu and food promotion must be done as much as we can. She also added Food and Psychology are related. So one needs to continuously work to match up with needs of customer as per their taste and eventually develop food culture.
- What do you see the status of food diversity in Nepal? Because we have different culture and food diversity also varies. Some noticeable food like Thakali and Newari cuisines are known. But there are lot other foods from varied culture, which hasn’t been recognized. So, how can we evolve this way of recognition and perception?
Ms. Goldi said that in Meals on Wheels, they always try to make Nepali cuisines adding Nepali flavor. They try to promote Nepali cuisines whatever way possible. Taking about food diversity, she said that there are vloggers who travel to different parts of the country and make videos of different dishes. She said she saw some different dish like burned egg, potato, eaten by local people, which was never heard before. Nepali people are foodie and they die for hunger hunting at different places. But trying to gather different cultural dishes, may be difficult to adopt at once because it needs research and experimentation. However, to promote these food, food vlogs again plays a vital role.
Ms. Subekshya said that the food diversity trend is already good in our country because new dishes are coming on light these days. However, there are few restaurants and people who are trying to imitate other people’s style and business without proper knowledge, passion and dedication, which eventually becomes a failure. However, some really popular places like Bajeko Sekuwa, opened franchise in many different places gaining popularity. Likewise, she also said that the food from many different culture are getting exposures which is really good. She also explained that “Sinka” has blend food with culture i.e. Choiyala MO: MO, Sukuti MO: MO, Sadeko MO: MO and so on. She said one must always work to create new taste in food and appreciate food from different culture because as every culture is special, so the food is.
Mr. Prajwal shared his experience of eating food in a place which used some rare ingredient with a different taste. This is what a culture brings, which is uniqueness. He also explained that a healthy, scientific promotion of food is really necessary. He recalled some foods he used to eat like Furaula, Titey Fapar, Maasko Furaula etc. These can be some dish in a restaurant but has lots of risk and cultural food can be promoted only when someone is willing to take the risk.
- It is said, Nepali cuisines have the best taste and now we are celebrating visit Nepal year 2020.How can we develop Nepali cuisines that can promote tourism?
Mr. Prajwal said that in order to develop Nepali cuisines that favors tourism development, food promotion plays a very important role. Many different Nepali dishes can be made, keeping in mind, we are going to receive international guests. We can at least make them taste Nepali Khana and get the feedback.
Ms. Subekshya said that as a part of Sinka Venture, she wants to promote Mo: Mo as many people know that it is popular here in Nepal .Likewise, the success of Visit Nepal Year 2020 is a common win for every individual in the country. Therefore, each and every one should work in co-ordination, helping and promoting each other’s ventures.
Ms. Goldi added during that year, many foreigners visit our country. And many different events, seminars, conferences are also conducted in the country. That time can be the best to promote Nepali Food by putting it as a main dish in event. Not only that, we also need to be careful about what food they want to have. Like, Muslim foreigners eat Halal food, so we should facilitate them as per their interest. We need to set an example, not only with natural beauty, Nepal is really amazing with its culture, food and a warm hospitality. In this way, we can promote tourism.