Himalayan specialties with just the right spice combination

Himalayan specialties with just the right spice combination

Himalayan specialties with just the right spice combination
Sarala and Rama Gautam proudly offer Nepalese delicacies at their Concord restaurant. (Rich Eber photo)

Richard Eber, Taste and TellCONCORD, CA (Feb. 22, 2023) — While “diversity” can bring controversy in political circles, it’s a point of pride in the local restaurant scene. Over the years, immigrants settling in the Bay Area have opened up eateries that provide new tastes for residents.

One place that fits this description is Himalayan Cuisine, where Sarala Gautam and her sister-in-law Rama share Nepalese cuisine with the community.

After working several years preparing their native foods in New Hampshire, the two women defied the odds in opening their own place. Sarala learned the trade as a child working in her family’s full-service hotel in Nepal.

There are many similarities between dishes served in her land-locked homeland and nearby India. A taste profile that uses less oil and spice, plus fresh, locally grown produce make Nepalese cooking stand out.

Start with some dumplings

Things start with Momo spicy chicken dumplings that reflect influence from nearby Tibet. Stuffed samosa and Pakora onion spinach fritters are among several appetizers that arrive with dipping sauces. Their curried lentil Mulligatawny soup should be sampled as well.

When it comes to main courses, Himalayan offers five basic sauce/gravies served with a choice of chicken, lamb, shrimp, salmon or goat. They can be made with moderate spice levels to reflect the taste of individual diners.

My favorite was the green pistachio-onion-cream with a hint of cashew. It was so delicious that I could not resist extracting every drop by dipping homemade garlic naan bread in the bowl.

I was also fond of their popular red Tikka Masala, often served in Indian restaurants. The Kashmiri Josh Rogan reflected this unique spice coming from the Indian province. I also tried the Makhani Mazza tomato-butter sauce that is ideal for those who prefer moderate spice levels.

Served with these dishes is the Himalayan’s complex basmati rice Biryani. It includes a combination of saffron, cardamom, yogurt, fresh onions, cilantro, mint and other spices. I prefer the vegetable version that separates the taste profile from their meat entries.

Vegetarian options

Talking about vegetarian, an entire side of the Himalayan menu offers numerous non-meat alternatives. While most restaurants feature token entrees made with little thought, Sarala and Rama provide cuisine even non-vegetarians can enjoy. Among this group is a Navratan Korma vegetable medley served with a creamy pineapple sauce. There are also several dishes utilizing lentil beans seasoned with assorted Himalayan spices.

Several types of naan bread are available to accompany many dishes, with flavors of garlic, chili, onion, whole wheat and cheese.

For larger groups, especially those going to the Himalayan for the first time, it is a good idea to share several dishes to appreciate their entire menu. There are many things I plan to sample on future visits.

For exotic drinks, they offer a mango Lassi smoothie that contrasts well with spicy foods. I especially enjoyed the Masala tea, which has a distinct flavor of sweetened milk, ginger and cardamom. It was a great way to finish my meal.

For patrons who desire an alcoholic beverage, the Himalayan lists a modest selection of beer and wine.

As might be expected, homemade items can be found on the dessert menu. Gulab Jamun, Kheer rice pudding and Gajar Halwa with milk, sugar and carrots are all popular sweets from Nepal.

From start to finish, Sarala and Rama have created a special place for those who appreciate fine dining. Their dedication to fresh ingredients, along with their book of unique recipes, makes this restaurant a gourmet destination.

Himalayan Cuisine is open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, closing a half hour later on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is at 2118 Willow Pass Road, Suite 400, Concord. They can be reached at 925-490-4344 or info@Himalyancusine.com.

Contact Richard Eber at ­rjerje@pacbell.net

Rich Eber
Rich Eber

Rich Eber is a local journalist and long time resident of Concord.  His diverse topics covered go from politics to gourmet food.  He can be reached at rjerje@pacbell.net