Twenty years ago, Lori came to Nepal looking for an escape, for some space, for some air. During those four months, he was looked after by Amar. The founder of a major Kathmandu travel agency, linked with Italy's Avventure nel Mondo, Amar is kind of a big deal but an absolute friend. One night, Lori wanted to go and eat the best dal bhat, and Amar duly sent him off to one of the capital's hotel rooftops for a meal with his fifteen year old son Amresh. 

Twenty years later and the gang is back together. A few more wrinkles, a few more kids, but the same connection. From the hug as Amresh met us at Kathmandu airport on that first hot, shellshocked night to the intimate Dashain dinner at their house, to the wordless friendship formed between their four year old and ours, we have no doubt that this wonderful family really made our time in Kathmandu.


Amar and Amresh, father and son. Two absolute gentlemen who, conscious of being more fortunate than most of their compatriots, decided to share their luck with them. In 1996, they became part of Hanuman ONLUS, an Italian non-profit association that helps kids in need around the world. Amar became the president of the organisation in Nepal and so far, they have managed to build an impressive fourteen schools around the country for children who wouldn’t otherwise have access to education. The 2015 earthquake damaged some of these schools, so they not only set about repairing them, but future-proofing them against more natural disasters. As we said, they’re very good men.

The time had come to say our own small thank you. So we did what we do. We cooked. Lori took over the kitchen of the family's Bhintuna Hotel in Bhaktapur, Olivia decorated the menu, I bounced around with the baby while pretending to chop things and together we braved the local markets and came up with the perfect meal to celebrate this particular friendship. 

Without further ado, here is our Italian take on the traditional Nepalese thali, the Ithali.




An Italian take on the traditional Nepalese thali.

  • Risotto ai funghi misti
  • Pollo con Peperoni alla Romana
  • Zuppa di legumi misti
  • Caponata di melanzane
  • Fritti patatini
  • Spinaci nepalesi aglio, olio e peperoncino
  • Salsa di pomodoro piccante



Serves 6 hungry people


Risotto ai funghi misti


  • Mixed mushrooms 700g

  • Garlic 3 cloves

  • Large onions 2
  • Carrots 2
  • Celery 1 stick
  • Half a chilli
  • Carnaroli rice 6 cups
  • salt and black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil


Prepare a vegetable stock by boiling a medium saucepan of water with one carrot, one onion and the celery.

Finely chop the garlic, the chilli and the remaining carrot and onion, then sweat in a large saucepan with a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil.

When softened, add the rice and stir until golden. 

Gradually add the vegetable stock, ladle by ladle, then season. 

When the rice is plumped and cooked, and the stock is absorbed, you’re done.


Pollo con Peperoni alla Romana


  • chicken legs 9, cut into large pieces
  • cloves of garlic 3
  • onions 2
  • peppers 6
  • white wine a glass
  • thyme a few sprigs
  • salt and black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil


Put four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into a large casserole over a medium heat. When hot, add the chicken.

Roughly chop the onions and garlic, then cut the peppers into strips. Add them to the casserole as soon as the chicken is golden brown on all sides. Stir for a couple of minutes before adding the wine.

Cover with water, add the thyme and season.

Simmer on a low heat for 40 minutes, until the meat is tender and almost falling off the bone.


Zuppa di legumi misti


  • borlotti beans 1 cup
  • cannellini beans 1 cup
  • orange lentils 1 cup
  • brown lentils 1 cup
  • kidney beans 1 cup
  • black-eyed peas 1 cup
  • onions 2
  • a chilli 2 cloves
  • salt and black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • garlic


Finely chop the garlic, onion and chilli. 

Place in a pressure cooker together with the pulses and three tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. 

Season with salt and pepper.

Cook for 45 minutes until everything is soft and soupy.


Caponata di melanzane


  • aubergines 3
  • cherry tomatoes 100g
  • a chilli
  • an onion
  • salt and black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil


Cut the aubergines into 2.5cm cubes, then roughly chop the onion and chilli. 

Put them into a large frying pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and stir fry for five to ten minutes. 

Quarter the cherry tomatoes and add them to the pan with two cups of water and some salt and pepper. Cook over a medium heat for ten to fifteen minutes, stirring regularly until the aubergine is soft and the sauce is shiny.


Fritti patatini


  • Maris Piper potatoes 600g
  • onions 2
  • salt and black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil


Peel and chop the potatoes into 3cm cubes. Roughly chop the onions.

Sauté the whole lot in olive oil in a frying pan for twenty minutes, season, and try not to eat it all.


Spinaci nepalesi aglio, olio e peperoncino


  • spinach 1.5kg
  • garlic 3 cloves
  • chillies 2
  • salt
  • extra virgin olive oil


Finely chop the garlic and chilli, then sweat them in a frying pan over a medium low heat. Add the spinach and sauté for 10 minutes until wilted. Season.


Salsa di pomodoro piccante


  • cherry tomatoes 500g
  • red chillies 10
  • half an onion
  • salt
  • extra virgin olive oil


Chop the tomatoes, chilli and onion and cook together for 20 minutes in a small saucepan. Allow to cool. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve to eliminate any skin or seeds. You should have a smooth sauce that may well blow your head off.


Bringing it all together

We used a traditional Nepalese thali set of metal tray and bowls, but feel free to make your own from whatever trays, plates, bowls, jugs, shot glasses or teacups you happen to own. As long as the risotto is in the middle, surrounded by small helpings of the other dishes, anything goes.

Serve the Ithali warm, with plenty of ice-cold vodka and friends you haven’t seen in years.


Mab Adventure Tour and travel
Tel: +977 01 4261004 - 4261158

Hotel Bhintuna
Byasi Gate, 10, Nagarkot Rd, Bhaktapur 44800, Nepal
Tel: +977 1-6613364

Hanuman ONLUS