Since 2005, the Himalayan Gorkha Restaurant has fed locals and travelers alike, offering authentic Nepalese and Indian food in the very heart of Prishtina.
Although most cafes and restaurants in Prishtina are fairly easy to find due to their online presence, some others require a bit more field work. It took me a few minutes of ferreting to get to what is the only restaurant in town that serves Nepalese and Indian dishes. The Himalayan Gorkha Restaurant is located on first floor of a semi-abandoned shopping mall on the UÇK street; it was immediately discernable due to the distinct tunes that managed to escape the four walls of the venue. I didn’t let the location put me off.
One of the owners who was sitting outside promptly stood up and showed me in. Since it was a rainy Tuesday evening and they had just started their shift, I was their first and only customer for the time I was there.
The place is run by two brothers who have single-handedly introduced the city to the flavors of Nepal.
The interior was embellished with scenic photographs of the Himalayan mountain range, animal figurines and small, scattered-about souvenirs. Parts of the walls were covered in cobblestones and serpentine plastic ivy. The glass-covered tables and wooden floor were whistle clean, making me feel very comfortable although the Qafa complex itself has seen better days.
The owner himself brought me the menu booklet, which was much more sizable than your usual bill of fare. The first page contained a few passages about the Gurkhas, a Nepalese soldier caste after which the restaurant was named. Even though the menu was rich with many meals and specialties, no amount of studying it helped me decide what I wanted to order. Although my prior knowledge of the Nepalese cuisine was practically nonexistent, they were kind enough to briefly and generally explain what they served. As a fowl enthusiast, I was delighted to learn that it was mostly chicken.
Yet, none of the countless hours I have spent watching Bollywood dramas helped me predict the taste of what I ordered.
I started off with the Himalayan Gorkha Soup which arrived in a matter of minutes. Comprised of eggs, mushrooms, peas, chicken and spices, it turned out to be the perfect appetizer for the main dish. It was adequately salted and the meat was pleasantly tender. Served in a plain white bowl, it was simple and straightforward: all that a hungry man needs. Having sufficiently warmed up my throat with flavorful soup, I was ready for the second dish.
I was quickly met with a platter of Afghani Chicken: a fair amount of curry-glazed hunks of chicken with a modest side-salad made of fresh vegetables. Although I expected it to be overly spicy due to the pungent smell, I was positively surprised to find that it was very hot and spicy, just to my liking. The chicken was of fine quality and evenly cooked, combining perfectly with the salad. It was mouthwatering. I am still amazed at how a skillful mixture of flavors and spices can evoke the sights of a place I’ve never been to.
Even though I was quite sated at that point, I still had another dish coming. And it was not at all negligible.
Before me stood the Mutton Biriyani, a huge plate of seasoned rice embedded with mutton and fresh vegetables. It felt like the dish contained almost a pound of rice, which was intimidating at first but exciting when started to dig in. It was neither soggy nor dry, a very important aspect when it comes to rice. Among others, the dish also contained unspecified “exotic spices.” The meat was very delicious yet slightly chewy; my jaw was on the brink of surrendering towards the end. I contemplated stopping halfway through, but I truly enjoyed every grain of the perfectly-cooked rice; to quote the comedian Louis C.K., “the meal is not over when I’m full, the meal is over when I hate myself.”
After finally finishing the Biriyani, some refreshment was due. I ordered a glass of Lassi, a mixture of yoghurt, sugar and mango pulp. It was love at first gulp. Not only did it flush out the spicy aftertaste, it fittingly topped off an amazing culinary experience.
Whether you’re tired of eating kebab every second day, or you just want to try something new, exciting, and – above all – spicy in the urban jungle that is Prishtina, the Himalayan Gorkha Restaurant has you covered.
07 June 2016 - 12:57
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